One of the more challenging aspects of working from home? Making it crystal clear to those you work with that you are, indeed, working.
Or rather, that doesn’t have to be a challenge if you’re making an intentional point of communicating your uses of time and impact to colleagues. No one should have to account for every single minute or hour of their WFH days, of course — that’s a toxic expectation, and one that fails to acknowledge how especially deserving of flexibility we are at this moment.
By all means, you should go on that walk. Go on all the walks! Take that conference call while knocking out your next load of laundry. Log off early. Switch to a four-day work week model. Do what you need to do, for work and for yourself, on any given day. And do it while also being smart about the messages you’re sending out to colleagues, lest you leave them wondering: “What do they even do all day?”
If you’re guilty of any of the following work day behaviors, know that the folks you work with may be asking themselves that very question.
1. You take a long time to respond to Slack messages and emails.
If you’re knee deep in a project, it makes sense that you can’t simply respond to every message that hits your inbox within the hour. But if people consistently find it hard to get ahold of you, they’ll wonder why that is.
2. You’re late to meetings, and during them, it’s clear you didn’t prepare much beforehand.
People sometimes have to ping you to make sure you’re still joining, too.
3. Conversely, you schedule meetings with your coworkers constantly.
If it seems like you’re a fan of meetings for meetings’ sake, it may cause some to wonder: how do they have time for all of these?
4. You’ve stopped contributing new ideas or taking the initiative on new projects.
And if you are involved in a new project, it’s because work was specifically delegated to you.
5. “Do not book” is something that people have come to associate with your calendar.
While it totally makes sense to block off chunks of time that you’re dedicating to personal things, you’ll still want to be prudent with the number of vague “dnb” events you add to your calendar.
6. You share the results of your work only with your direct boss.
A surefire way to leave people questioning what you do all day is by not broadly communicating that info. Sharing your work with your direct boss can only get you so far — you want your colleagues to have a clear sense of your contributions, too. Make a point of sharing interesting findings and developments over Slack in a group channel, or ask your boss if you can have five minutes of the next team meeting to describe your approach to a project.
7. You’ve stopped (virtually) socializing with your colleagues.
People are likelier to find themselves questioning what you do during work hours if they don’t have a sense of what your life in general looks like these days. Eliminate the mystery for them by making a point of staying sociable and communicative.
8. You often say how busy or slammed you are.
Really, no one should feel perpetually slammed at work — and if you do, that may be a conversation with management that needs to happen! We all have busy periods, and it makes sense to comment on your plate being full during those stretches. But if “I’m so busy!” has come to serve as a kind of eternal talking point for you, simply in order to relay to others that you’re Capital-B Busy, it can lead folks to question: What exactly are they so busy with?