I began teleworking from home in 2002 one to two days per week. While Federal managers were complaining about the new concept of teleworking and that they couldn’t manage people who weren’t in the office, I could attest to the fact, that for me, productivity increased. At home there were no drop-in visitors with HR questions or people who just wanted to chat. I was able to save work projects that didn’t include face time for the days I was at home. Gradually I moved into only working from home and managed my day with online meetings, teleconferences, shared network files and calendars. I can and do conduct all of my current work virtually.
I think when you are 100% virtual there both are benefits and shortfalls. One benefit is the freedom from feeling fenced in – I can walk outside to get away from the computer without someone in the office peering out a window wondering what I’m doing and why “she’s not working.” A disadvantage though is the old saying “out of sight, out of mind!” When opportunities come along you may be forgotten because you are only virtually visible, a voice on the other end of the phone, or a face on the monitor (if you have a camera in your online meetings). However, “out of sight, out of mind” can be a blessing because it keeps you from being pulled into work politics and frustrations with co-workers’ behaviors in close office quarters.
How to make it work
It is important to have a work space that is devoted to your official job and to actually act like you are “going to work” in an office. Get up on time, login to the computer and be sure to inform your supervisor if you will be away for a medical appointment or an extended lunch. Don’t jeopardize the opportunity to telework by not following the normal procedures in place for all. Use the shared calendar to mark down when you are out or in a meeting; and get approval for your leave the same as your co-workers do. Along with a good workspace, be sure your equipment is working and you can get help remotely from the IT helpdesk. Know who is in charge of getting you supplies, updated equipment when there is a new roll-out, and most importantly, get a buddy at work, even though you are virtual.
While the article talks about how workers may have a compulsion to shirk off at home, I believe that if one is engaged with their work and can prioritize assignments and workload, that he or she can be successful teleworking. Sure, you can throw a load of laundry in, like the article mentions – just be sure you are at work during the required core hours, that your assignments are completed timely and you are not using company equipment or time for disallowed activities. Take your breaks like the article mentions and establish a routine for your work just as if you are in the office. Be sure to check your voicemail and emails so that you are in touch in a timely manner. Lose the guilt if you do take an occasional extended lunch – remember that those in the office get to go to the office parties and other onsite gatherings and you don’t. Most of all relax, don’t stress, and enjoy this 21st century “electronic work” mode.
Do you have any other tips you would like to share about what has worked for you when working remotely?