Telecommuting: Keeping those offsite on target.
With the economy in the state is in today, telecommuting is fast becoming a popular alternative for employees. The question is how to keep these employees on task so that productivity is still achieved at a maximum level. Telecommuting offers flexibility which is highly desired by many employees; however, companies are sometimes hesitant to offer this opportunity due to bad experiences in the past with employees who did not pull their weight and were a drain on the company. Most remote workers understand the need to work harder than their counterparts on site and strive to make it happen.
Although there are many advantages in being an offsite employee, there are disadvantages too. Telecommuting employees are not able to participate in the water cooler conversations that happen on site. They do not get to develop strong personal relationships with their cubicle neighbors. They also tend to bear the brunt of blame when things go wrong. Looking deeper at these disadvantages; however, reveals that they might not be as negative as they seem. Water cooler is often centered on gossip, employees can still get to know their team without being in a cubicle next to them and people often try to find scapegoats wherever they can, regardless of where they are located.
Remote employees need to recognize that although a flexible schedule contributes to a better work and life balance, they need to be accountable, stay connected and communicate in ways that lets the office know what they are working on as well as establishing relationships with the teammates back at the office. Do not give off the appearance of a robot that sends emails and has an electronic voice. If you take the time to get to know the onsite employees at your company, you will be appreciated and accepted by them even if you are not physically with them all the time.
Consider these five tricks and tips to help you maintain those relationships and stay productive:
1. Track your work output – Let your manager or supervisor know what you work on every day. If it makes sense, keep your teammates up to date too. There are lots of resources on the Internet, including free online tools to keep track of work output.
2. Use Instant Messenger like it is your best friend – Most likely you are working near a computer with Internet accessibility. Utilize an IM program that allows you to send links, information or questions whenever you think of them. This makes you feel connected to those at the office and lets them know that you are actually working. The conversation that you have with IM is more fluid than simple emails.
3. Stick to a schedule – Although a flexible schedule is one of the desired outcomes for an offsite employee, having clear work hours is still a necessity. This makes you accessible to your teammates at the office so they know when to get a hold of you.
4. Set up weekly communications – If you are unable to make it to the office once a week due to distance, set up a weekly communication with key members of your team. Video chats or conference calls are important whether you perceive a need or not, so you can show off your personality and talk shop. You will find that there is always something to talk about even if you did not have a list of topics ready beforehand.
5. Make your voice heard – Just because you are not physically at the office does not mean you are not a vital part of the team. Make your voice a part of the conversation when emails are sent or during conference calls. This is an excellent way to digitally brainstorm with your fellow teammates and clarify what happens at the office when you are not there.
Keep these five tips in mind when working at a company that allows the flexibility of telecommuting. Get to know your fellow teammates, stay connected with management and communicate regularly on what you are doing to ensure that you stay accountable and visible from your office at home.
To help with the idea of productive telecommuting, why not check out our next article on the “Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), What it is and How it can Help Your Business.”
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