Citing a goal to improve collaboration between employees, HP followed Yahoo!’s lead by ordering telecommuters back to the office. Studies report that telecommuters are more productive and lower overhead expenses, but telecommuting does create challenges in collaboration and communication. Telecommuters are out of sight and therefore out of mind. As a result, they’re often viewed as less committed to their jobs, miss out on inmport office information and are overlooked for advancement opportunities. However, telecommuters can stand out in the crowd to make their value known.
Be accountable. Telecommuters may work remotely, but that doesn’t mean they’re not part of a larger group that relies on them. A sure way to kill a telecommuting position is to be unavailable when needed, deliver work late and produce subpar results. As a telecommuter, you need to remember that you are part of a team that you need to communicate with and deliver quality work to on time. Being accountable to your colleagues and manager improves their view of you as a valuable, irreplaceable member of the team.
Connect with colleagues regularly. Collaboration isn’t the only reason to stay in touch with colleagues. Much of the information passed along in an office, such as an open position or the gift fund for a co-worker who’s having a baby, is delivered through the interactions between co-workers. Formal and informal communication with your colleagues can help you stay informed of what’s going on at the office, as well as improve the relationships with them. Technology, such as phone and web conferencing, has made it easier than ever to spend time with your colleagues even though you’re not in the office.
Check in with the boss frequently. Because telecommuters aren’t in the office, it is easy for managers to forget about them during the busyness of day-to-day activities. Being forgotten can mean you’re not memorable, which means you’re expendable. Keep your boss informed of progress or completion of projects, new ideas you have, and information that can keep you in his mind. A daily email report keeps your boss informed of your work each day, but don’t be afraid to call or even drop in. The more personal the connection, the more likely your boss will remember you and feel good about the work you’re doing.
Successful telecommuting relies a great deal on how well you communicate your value to the company. While providing quality work in a timely manner is a part of this, so is staying in touch and building relationships with on-site and other remote workers.