When you first started your career as a professional remote worker—especially if you were making the change from traditional in-office employment—you were thrilled by the prospect of freedom. Gone was the pressure to prepare the perfect outfit each day, to rush through breakfast, to grumble through the same commute to the same cubicle or office. Suddenly, the world was your office! Athleisure was your business causal! You could take lunch when and where you wanted and not miss a single beat! Your focus improved, your meetings were timely, and you were avoiding messy in-office politics.
But now, something’s different. Your day-to-day life feels dull. Your work begins when you wake up in bed responding to emails, and it ends when you turn off the light. You’re tired. You’re feeling depleted. You’ve been wearing the same sweatpants for the past three days.
Sound familiar? If so, you aren’t alone. Many remote workers fall into the trap of low self-esteem from working at home all the time. But with a few tips and tricks, you can revitalize your routine so you look professional, feel in control, and—who knows?—perhaps get so productive your next 1:1 starts addressing the question of your next raise.
Here are some proven ways to appear professional when you’re working remotely.
There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable as you get work done. In fact, sometimes when you’re comfortable (not thinking about how your pants dig in a certain way, or worrying about spilling coffee down the front of your brand-new button down), it can feel a lot easier to focus on the task at hand.
However, most of the time, the best thing you can do for your mental health is to dress it up a notch when you’re working. It’s a type of mental conditioning, described well by Joshua Duvall and quoted inthis article on The Ladders: “Our bodies appreciate the comfiness of our bed wear, and consciously or unconsciously, our minds react to this comfortability by shutting down the practical parts of our brains.”
Start slowly and test this theory for yourself: Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, start the day with a fresh set of clothes of any kind—even if it’s just a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. From there, graduate slowly into clothes you might feel comfortable wearing at the office. It doesn’t have to be a full suit (unless you work best that way), but making little adjustments to your wardrobe before you go to work will certainly help.
One last tip: If you find your old office attire just wasn’t comfortable, consider investing in one or two garments that look professional and feel comfortable. Have them tailored, if necessary. That way, you’ll look forward to wearing them.
Even with the best set of digital platforms, working remotely can leave you feeling disjointed from a company you’re truly proud to be part of. Consider doing some research into networking events or conferences that would add value to your position and your company, and talk to your manager about attending. Attending events is a great way to position yourself as a professional (and a thought leader) within your company: Your manager and peers will see you taking the initiative to learn and network within your industry, and the people you meet will look to you to share ideas and glean your unique perspective on the work you do.
Depending on the event, you may even have a valuable perspective to present—which looks great for your team and on your resume. For example: Doing something exciting with email marketing that you think could help revolutionize your industry? That could be a great presentation worth presenting at a conference focused on digital marketing efforts. Are you helping project manage a podcast that’s taking off with unprecedented downloads? Whatever you’re doing, there’s likely an angle that your peers could learn from.
Whether or not you choose to present, attending conferences and other networking events opens doors for you. You’ll meet new, like-minded people who can help innovate your work, you can share your expertise, and you’ll feel the ownership you have over your work.
Think of this as another kind of mental conditioning, like with changing clothes: No matter your job, there should be hours where you are not expected to be on the clock. Don’t let the fact that you’re working remote deter you from holding yourself to those boundaries, as that’s the only way you’ll have time to turn off your brain. Otherwise, everywhere you go will feel like your office, and you’ll run the serious risk ofburnout.
Consider this when discussing due dates for deliverables as well. As a remote worker, it can be tempting to drop everything as soon as any request comes through your inbox. Resist that urge. Instead, give yourself time to evaluate your priorities, consider your down time, and let people know when they can expect to hear back from you. This will not only help your emotional health, but will show your colleagues that you are dependable and help you deliver a quality product on time.
Remember: No matter where it’s taking place, if you’re responding to an email, fielding a phone call, or doing anything related to your company/job description, you’re doing valuable work. By setting boundaries, creating a sense of ownership over your role, and dressing the part, you’re sure to start feeling like the consummate remote professional you truly are.Photo by Taylor Grote
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