Many companies now allow workers to telecommute. The flexibility that comes with this option could be a great perk especially in places where traffic turns any commute into a big extension of the workday. But telecommuting can have its downsides, as well, if you are not prepared for the many aspects that are required to make it successful.
When you’re working from home you are as close as it gets to being your own boss as far discipline is concerned. Your abilities to focus and do your best every day even if there is no supervisor who is looking over your shoulder are what can help you keep your productivity up and stay on par with others who are working in the office.
Still, over time, things can change and people may slide into comfortable routines that drift away from the optimal work schedule and expectations. That may impact their performance to an extent that is noticeable by other coworkers and supervisors. To avoid this, keep the following tips in mind.
Working from home doesn’t mean that you don’t set a foot in the office. If possible, try to show up for major meetings or at least use some video conferencing app or Skype to make your attendance more personal. For other day to day communication, make sure that you always send emails to confirm, follow up or inquire about whatever going on. Few people still prefer phone call, so stay on email if your coworkers seem to be doing the same whether they are in the office or not. Some companies offer instant chatting programs to facilitate communication, so take advantage of every means of communication you can get your hands on.
Keep communication open as well. With a limited presence in the office, it is easy to fall in the trap of being distant and inaccessible. The more you keep in touch with others, the easier it will be for them to reach out and work with you. Misunderstandings typically are a result of miscommunication or lack of it.
Workplaces evolve and change all the time. If you expect to work from home for years without a change, you may be isolating yourself and undermining your own potential for advancement. It is important to keep up with what is happening in the company, stay abreast of changes in directions and policies, and remain an effective member in new projects.
This involvement will keep you in the position of a key employee who also has the potential of growing into a bigger and better role. You will need also to remain open to the idea that eventually you may have to take a job that doesn’t provide the flexibility of telecommuting. If that prospect is acceptable, then make it clear to your coworkers and supervisors because otherwise they may rule out your interest in advancement opportunities based on the perception that you only want to continue to work from home.
Joking about working from home in your pyjamas is one thing, having a background noise of screaming kids and barking dog is another. Just like you’d show up in appropriate office attire, make sure that your voice, tone and surroundings reflect a professional environment when you’re calling or video-calling the office or clients. Your professionalism also extends to how responsive you’re. If you’re working from home during work hours, the expectations will be that you’d respond to emails in a timely manner and you’d pick up the phone if called. Making it a habit not to get back on emails and calls reflect — whether that is correct or not — that you’re not actually working when you’re supposed to be.
Even if your office doesn’t require you to check in and out, it would be courteous to send a quick note to others to let them know that you’re logging off for the day, if you’ve been working with them on a project — just like you’d do if you’re leaving the office at the end of the work day. Such small gestures will help others feel more comfortable working with you and avoid the frustrations that can result from having someone who is unavailable when needed.
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