The Future of Telecommuting: Will it Pan Out or Become a Flash in the Pan?
By Allison Rice
Since the popularization of the Internet, one of the fastest-growing trends in the professional world is telecommuting – and working from home has never been easier.
Meanwhile, corporate mega moguls (like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly) are instituting company-wide telecommuting bans and changes to the work-at-home policies.
According to Marissa Mayer, telecommuting kills the “communication and collaboration” required for innovation to flourish. That may very well be true for careers that require team-work; however, for solitary positions, face-to-face meetings may actually stifle the flow of creativity and efficiency.
At the same time, there are some very real concerns related to the accountability and productivity issues inherent in a work-at-home environment.
So the question becomes: How can you navigate these issues while making sure your telecommuting is a win-win working situation for all involved?
Consider the following:
Why Work from Home?
As countless employees and entrepreneurs already know, for many types of careers, it is simply not necessary to conduct business from one central location.
In fact, it’s actually less efficient to require employees to put in time at the office. With a focus on maximizing productivity and minimizing job turnover, managers and business owners realize the benefits of offering flexibility for those jobs that are better executed from a remote location.
For working moms, these advantages are the very things that might otherwise keep them from working outside of the home. For example, working remotely comes with:
- More time to actually work because of less time spent getting dressed (in full “hair and makeup”) in the morning;
- Less money spent on those expensive work clothes and makeup, plus those power suits don’t clean themselves;
- Less time and money wasted on commuting to an office;
- More time to spend with your family and take care of yourself;
- Less money wasted on eating out because you are no longer so exhausted from the non-work parts of your workday that you can’t scrape together some dinner;
- Less time away from the office to take care of sick kids;
- Less time away from the office to take care of sick YOU!
There are tons of reasons why working from home can be a life-saver for many women, but those are just some of the most obvious.
What’s not so obvious, however, is how to make it all work together. In other words, how do you ensure everything runs smoothly from home such that your employer has no reason to want to drag you back into the office or replace you completely? Here are the three biggest ways to keep your boss happy and yourself at home.
1. Be Open: Tele-communicate!
Since you’ve already picked the perfect real estate location to conduct your business (anywhere that’s not in your employer’s office!), it’s time to focus on the number 1 rule of working from home: communication, communication, communication.
The quickest way to maintain a trusted position within the company even when you’re away from their desk is to communicate with them. This doesn’t mean you check in every time you have a doctor’s appointment or you need to work at night instead of in the morning – you’ve already established the flexible nature of your hours because you’re not tethered to an office – but it does mean you need to be in the loop on work-related projects and do the same for them.
2. Be Dependable: Set a Semi-Regular Schedule and Keep It
At the same time, when your boss needs you, you need to make sure he or she can find you. Again, you don’t have to be around from 9-6 every day, but make sure to let your employer know when you will be available and then actually BE available during that time.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but if you want to fly under the radar, be visible! This means checking in regularly, attending those standing weekly conference calls, contributing to the team, and above all, if you say you are going to do something, follow through.
3. Be Productive: Under-Promise and Over-Deliver
Rather than punching a clock and filling a seat with a warm body, which makes your presence at work easy enough for your employer to verify, since you work from home, you likely have some kind of tangible product which proves you have been working.
Likewise, if you have nothing to show for a 40-hour time-card, your boss will not be able to overlook your lack of work product for very long and it’s either back to the office or back to the job market for you!
One way to avoid either of those unfortunate scenarios is to set smaller, realistic goals that you can finish and present to your company at the end of the week.
Above all, do not be that girl who constantly flakes! Sure, life happens and things get in the way of us completing tasks but if you are always promising the moon but only presenting shooting stars, your light within the company will fade just as quickly. Employers just don’t have time for that and with the rest of the workforce ready to take your spot and get it done, they don’t have to put up with someone who is more trouble than she’s worth.
If you can set yourself up to succeed from the beginning, working from home can be a win-win for all parties! What are some of the ways you have found to go the extra mile for your employers when you’re not in their office – and buy yourself some breathing room in the process?
Allison Rice is the Marketing Director for Amsterdam Printing (www.amsterdamprinting.com), a leading provider of custom and promotional pens and other promotional products to grow your business and thank customers. Allison regularly contributes to the Promo & Marketing Wall blog, where she provides actionable business tips.