5 steps to becoming a better virtual employee – An Employer’s perspective

From an employer standpoint, there a certain fundamental items that we need our employees to do in order for us to be fully satisfied with the work that a team member is producing. The first thing that the employee needs to understand is that we WANT to be happy. We WANT you to be successful. If you are successful, in general, that success translates well for our business.

The question remains though, what creates that success, what can you do as an employee to ensure that your employer is happy and your relationship with them lasts for a long time? Well, that’s what this article is all about. There are just a few things to focus on from a high level, and I’ll also be giving you a few really specific items that will make you really stand out to your employer.

1. Set a regular schedule and get up front agreements in place.

Do you know when your employer is expecting you to be online? Every day? Specific times? When are they expecting to hear from you, and when you communicate with them, what format do they like to receive updates in? Find these items out, and you’ll be well on your way to pleasing your employer and making a great impression. Many employers are not the best at communicating these items as you start working with them, so by asking them, you are showing that you are organized.

Up-front agreements are basically making sure that each party clearly understands what the other wants. The more details that you can agree on up front the higher the chances of your mutual success are.

2. Ask clarifying questions

Chances are you are working with an entrepreneur that has between 2 and 15 employees. They have a ton going on, and one of the faults of entrepreneurs in general is not giving enough details. We like to say things like “just do it this way” or “just get it done”.

What you should do at this point, is try to extract as much info from your manager as possible. What colors are they looking for? Can they send you some examples of others who are already doing what they want? The goal is to understand exactly what they are looking for, so that you can produce a product that will be right the first time. This will impress your employer. You don’t want to waste time or budget creating something that they won’t be happy with.

3. Communicate Often

This is as simple as letting your employer know what you’re doing, when you are doing it. Nothing signals trouble like an employer constantly having to follow up and ask about what projects are next to work on, and when they will commence. If you want to really impress your employer just keep track of your daily activities and just send them an email of what was worked on that day.

Let them know at a high level what projects you’ve been working on, how long they are taking and just in general your thoughts on how those projects are going. Proactively answer questions like how much longer you anticipate a project taking, and feed them screenshots of the progress. Your employer is spending money on these projects, and they want to know how they are going. In addition, the more you communicate the more your employer will know that you are on their projects.

4. Focus on Quality

Everything on the web is moving towards quality. Web designs, content, products, software, and just about everything else you can think of is going through a major change and it’s all towards quality. Consumers are less tolerant of bugs, and misspelling. Anything less than a quality product doesn’t cut it anymore (it did in 2004).

Spend some extra time if it takes extra time to create a quality product for your employer. They will value quality over the extra few minutes that you spend getting it right. If you write in poor english, don’t use spell check, or produce poor code, your relationship with the employer will most likely soon be ending. Anything less than great quality doesn’t cut it anymore. Be one of the few producers that gives your employer a quality product and they will be very happy with you.

5. Speak your mind when you can add value

An employer is hiring you mostly because of your experience. They want the job done of course, but defining the actual steps required for completing the job is sometimes the hard part. Example… I have no clue how to start making a logo. So I am hiring someone based on their experience creating other logos.

So don’t be shy about telling your manager what have you seen other clients have success with in the past. Go ahead and share – make it clear that, in the end, you’ll do the task however they want it done. But you have had good results doing it a certain way. Or you could do some research online and present a few different options for doing a certain task. These are all valuable actions that you can perform to stand out and show your employer that you are overall a good person and they are well on their way to finding a great employee. It shows the employer that you can add value to their business, and that you are someone that can think for themselves.

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  • http://www.helloyoga.com/ Dylan Robertson

    Dave, this is a good starting point, but what we need is a more comprehensive guide for prospective freelance contractors explaining what Hubstaff is, what’s in it for them if they use Hubstaff vs other remote employment arrangements, how payment works, how to avoid common problems, what to expect, etc.

    I can’t seem to find anything like this. Instead, the information on your site is mainly geared towards employers.

    You should take a look at Harvest – they are recommended to people almost as much by freelancers as employers. Whereas, you’re only targeting half of the equation with your current explanatory content. And, it’s quite a jumble. For example, I stumbled across your open letter to the patent office. It was a fascinating distraction for me, but really it had no place being there and was just a derailing me from what I was trying to do – find something I could send to a prospective contractor to explain everything about Hubstaff.

    I think you need to bring in a fresh pair of eyes to help you sort this mess out because you guys are in too deep and close. You can’t see it from an ordinary person’s perspective anymore.

    • http://davenevogt.com/ Dave Nevogt

      @dylan – have you seen this page? http://blog.hubstaff.com/university/

      • http://www.helloyoga.com/ Dylan Robertson

        @davenevogt:disqus, thanks! I had found this once and then couldn’t find it again. You’ve made some great stuff here, but it doesn’t seem to address the following questions from prospective contractors:

        1. What is Hubstaff and why should I work via this tool vs working via a middleman such as Elance that provides escrow services and arbitration to give some level of protection?

        2. How do I get paid? What payment options are available?

        Also, I note that a lot of the guides seem to be roughly about similar topics and it would benefit you to merge them. Instead of presenting us with a forest of documents, give us 2 or 3 at most.

        Also, I suggest that you clearly separate the content aimed at employers vs. contractors/employees.

        You’ve been prolific in generating mountains of fantastic content. Now what you need to do is bring in someone who can, with a fresh perspective, help you organize it all so that even people like me can figure out how to navigate it.