Holding Ourselves Accountable When Working Remotely

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Accountable employees determine their position by themselves rather than being told what it is/should be. Accountability is coupled with responsibility, given that there’s no finger pointing at others. Because of all this, accountable employees are highly valued by businesses of all sizes.

How to be more accountable

Optimally, a workplace where all employees are accountable is a collective sharing in company success. Everyone always gives their best, but that doesn’t imply continuous overtime—quite the contrary.

Because everyone is held accountable for their actions and results, and conflicts are rare. By extension, such an environment is inspiring for everyone, and stress levels are lower, meaning that tasks will be easier to perform because no one’s feeling pressured.

Productivity is a natural result of such an atmosphere. In addition to employees’ accountability, leaders’ and managers’ responsibility is highly valued and inspiring because they’ll be held accountable for their mistakes and poor judgment. When problems are recognized in their essence, they never get to escalate, which makes them easier to solve and allow for a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone.

In contrast, unaccountable employees don’t see themselves as part of a successful team and don’t share in overall success. That means that business reputation may suffer because individuals that haven’t adapted to this way of doing things.

Here are some tips on how to be/become (more) accountable when working remotely.

1. Be honest and keep in touch with co-workers

Being accountable means being honest about your performance. Admittedly, that’s something everyone can work on.

In addition (and as is always the case when it comes to remote work), communication is crucial. By discussing all work aspects with your colleagues, you’ll be able to deepen the understanding and bridge the gaps brought forth by multiple factors, including cultural differences, different approaches and multiple assignments.

When an issue arises, discuss it as soon as possible. This holds especially true for leaders and managers, upon whom lies the heaviest burden – identifying what went wrong. Because sometimes employees may lack skills or expertise, the approach should be adjusted accordingly.

For remote workers, such situations mean two options: either an online meeting or written communication. The latter seems to be working better for many people because the extra pressure is missing. But sometimes it’s easier and more productive to exchange opinions faster via an online meeting app. It all depends on the situation and the preferences of those involved.

2. Focus on realistic goals

Developing a goal-oriented mindset is always desirable. However, it’s important to differentiate between goals in general and target goals. As always, being realistic when assigning them is crucial.

To ensure that the desired outcome tied to specific goals is met, it’s recommended that you measure the success using equally specific metrics. Hence, defining benchmarks is the first step. Vague goals are a huge no-go.

3. Prioritize

Don’t we know all too well how many times there are too many goals and not enough time for nearly all of them. This seems to be common, rather than an occasional occurrence, given that the typical work environment is way too hectic. That’s why it’s important to prioritize from the beginning.

This isn’t rocket science, either. Normally, employees start their day by going through the tasks and sorting them by time-sensitivity. Urgent tasks should always come first and followed by less urgent ones. It’s equally important to set reasonable deadlines. A complex task shouldn’t be rushed no matter its urgency and neither should your regular breaks suffer under any excuse.

Taking regular breaks is essential, as no one can remain concentrated all day long. Take your time to unwind, enjoy your lunch and workout routine, and only then go back to the pending task.

4. Work on your self-esteem

No matter how one comes across, the truth is no one is ever 100% certain of their skills. It’s only understandable, given that the average employee nowadays is expected to know all sorts of things, many of which aren’t even in their field of expertise.

Building self-esteem should be a continual task; the trait is crucial both for your professional- and private life. Normally, with experience comes wisdom.

Taking bold risks and standing behind your decision no matter the outcome is what accountability is in a nutshell. By no means should this be confused with unreasonable endeavors; presumably you’ll have learned to prioritize before making a final decision pertaining to each task.

5. It’s never too late to learn a new skill

Learning new skills and enhancing the existing ones is an ongoing process every serious remote worker should keep in mind. After all, business practices change all the time and we must all follow suit.

In addition to the obvious changes taking place in the workplace, a mindset focused on learning is certain to become accountable easier than a traditionalistic mindset.

6. Keep informed and up-to-date

As important as it is for employees to be accountable, the burden lies more heavily on team leaders and managers. It’s up to them to keep the workers informed about company policies and updates to avoid people not meeting the expectations.

Communication is also crucial. Setting clear goals and communicating expectations in simple terms is the first step towards a fruitful future.

Final thought

Accountability is a skill that can be learned. Normally, continual education, constant communication and dedication to work will lead to a sustainable, stress-free work culture that benefits everyone. In addition, accountability is a valuable intrapersonal skill to come by. It eliminates stress and helps us become more honest with ourselves.