used with permission from the Microsoft Business Site
winning race
Today’s office worker isn’t always found in the office. Even if you’re not in sales, you may do a significant amount of work at a customer site, from conference hotels, or at home. Studies have shown that this kind of work flexibility leads to a more satisfying work life, a more fulfilling career and (usually) a more productive employee.

However, being away from your co-workers can have its drawbacks as the corporate jungle brings out the competitive beast in some people. Perhaps it’s human nature to assume that an employee who isn’t in the office isn’t actually working, or to use it as an opportunity to get a leg up on a team member. But even if your physical office seems blessedly free of corporate politics, don’t let “out of sight, out of mind” be the epitaph on the headstone of your career.

Here are five tips to help you survive and thrive in your career without being chained to a desk:

1. Become a productivity expert.
Remote workers who succeed in their career are able to prioritize effectively. They understand which projects are most critical to the company’s success, and they focus on those tasks that have a maximum impact on their performance. They also have the ability to close their office door, even if it’s only a figurative one, when they have deadlines to meet. To be as efficient as possible, many of these successful people become highly proficient with modern office productivity tools that help them get the job done. Tools like the new Microsoft Office 365, which combines familiar Microsoft Office productivity solutions with online versions of our next generation communications and collaboration software such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online, help remote workers with affordable, easy to use office productivity solutions that can be accessed online from where work takes them.

2. Remain visible.
You may enjoy being a mystery, but when no one really knows where you are or what you are working on, it isn’t good for your career. Share your calendar so team members know when you’ll be out of the office. Don’t just share your free and busy status. Share your actual meeting and project information so co-workers can see that not only are you unavailable, you’re in an important meeting with a client or heads-down working on a crucial project.

3. Stay accessible.
You don’t have to be glued to your cell phone, obsessed with texting, or return emails instantly in order to be accessible. But you should stay on top of your email and return your voice mails – focusing on the most critical items first. It also helps to use tools like Microsoft Lync Online’s instant messaging capabilities so co-workers can reach you, even when you are in a meeting. The harder you are to reach, the more likely your fellow employees are to exclude you when something comes up. Being accessible helps others engage with you when you’re needed, and helps ensure you’re included when something important is happening at the office.

4. Get credit where credit is due.
If no one sees your work, did you really do it? Shared workspaces like Microsoft SharePoint not only help teams collaborate effectively, they can help you showcase the work you are doing – without making you feel like you’re stepping over the line in your efforts to self-promote. When you reach project milestones or complete deliverables, share them so that others (especially those higher up the corporate food chain) can see the value you add despite your time away from your desk.

5. Keep your eye on the ball.
Remote workers have far less leeway to fail. If you tend to do most of your work out of the office, you need to keep an eye on the deliverables and metrics that are most crucial to your organization.

Hopefully, your organization has a goal setting process and shares crucial metrics through tools like SharePoint dashboards. If not, consider setting your own metrics and goals and making them visible to others. As they say, the numbers speak for themselves. By meeting your goals and making them visible, you can help the numbers speak for you when you aren’t there to do it yourself.

For remote employees, working away from the office isn’t an option. For others, it’s a precious freedom that shouldn’t be squandered. Whether being a remote worker is a choice or a necessity, career survival hinges on ensuring that others understand the value you add to the organization.