Sparked by Yahoo’s recent decision to ban telecommuting, and following my on-air appearance on the Today Show, I have received hundreds of emails from people around the world regarding this very topic. The #1 question I have been asked is… Do I worry about being overlooked by colleagues and management?
The answer is simple. Yes. That is exactly why I don’t do it every single day.
For me, my formula has always been to go where I am needed and I use good ‘ole fashioned common sense to make a decision.
If you are one of the 13 million U.S. employees who telecommute at least once a week you may benefit from the following tips in a series I have dubbed “The Art of Telecommuting”.
Telecommuting – How to Stay Relevant
(1) Communication Know-How
In case you are wondering… you DO need to overcompensate for the fact you are out of sight. Ever hear the expression… ‘out of sight out of mind’? Your colleagues need to know you are engaged and working and that you are as much a part of the team as those that are in the office. While email and Instant Messenger (IM) might seem easier and faster, picking up the phone allows for the building of a relationship. Schedule weekly or bi-weekly phone chats with people that are critical to your success.
(2) Know when to be seen
Showing up for important events, like staff meetings, is also key and this will show your loyalty to the company.
Nobody really needs to tell you when shaking a hand is necessary.
Use common sense.
If getting to the office is next to impossible talk to your manager and family about the possibility to arrange for a quarterly business trip. A planned trip may ease any anxiety you feel and will allow you to arrange for many face-to-face meetings in one visit.
(3) Be Available and send Status Reports
The absolute worst thing you could do as a telecommuter is to be unavailable. Be sure you return phone calls promptly, leverage call forwarding. If you use IM in your office – be sure to flag when you are away from your computer by marking your status accordingly. Deliver the same courtesy to your manager as if you were in the office and had to leave for a long period of time. If you have a doctor appointment that will take 2 hours, let your boss know you will be out of pocket.
Send status reports to your boss or to your project team on a defined cadence. Let your inner circle and extended team know what your accomplishments have been and what your intentions are moving forward.
Following these 3 simple tactics will help you maintain and establish your relevance with your boss, your colleagues and also to yourself.