There are a lot of posts and recommendations on the Internet about making telecommuting successful. For example 10 Tips For Working From Home, Get More Done: 18 Tips for Telecommuters, and 12 Tips to Stay Healthy While Working From Home. The suggestions often focus on

  • Keeping a strict office schedule
  • Getting dressed as though you were going into the office
  • Separating your workspace from your living space
  • Minimizing interruptions
  • Work/Life balance

If you google you’ll find a lot of advice like that. One thing most of these lists have in common is that they omit the most important key to successful telecommuting or remote work.

What’s that one key you ask?

Before answering that, let’s think about what your boss really needs.

Your boss, employer, or client needs work to get done. Depending on the work you do, this might be easily measured via a ticket system, version control commits, posts, deliverables or various other ways that record work in one way or another. Frequently the presence in the office also counts for those not telecommuting.

In other words, there is a desire to know that you are making progress. But, how do you help raise the understanding of your work and the confidence that it is getting done regardless of where you are?

It’s really rather simple: great communication is the key to successful remote work.

1 key to succesful remote work

Communication will allow you to set yourself apart from all of your colleagues and competitors. It doesn’t matter whether you (or they) are in the office or not. The burden is on you to communicate your progress, your needs, your questions, and your feedback. Diligence in communication will build understanding and trust. It’s not really a burden, but an opportunity. There are a lot of people who don’t make communication a priority. I’ve found this to be true of many office workers. Just showing up is considered a win somehow.

In the next few posts I’ll dig a little deeper on some specific topics such as

A lot of this isn’t just for telecommuters. Office dwellers will likely also benefit. However, as a remote worker communication is the one truly critical piece that will make you successful.

Stay tuned for some my thoughts on bringing a high level communication game that will leave others (especially your boss) with nothing but trust and confidence in you.