Telecommuting and Your Career
Recently, the Austin Business Journal had a poll about telecommuting called Would You Be A Good Telecommuter?
This a hot topic, as we now have Los Angeles-like traffic in Austin. The question about telecommuting is not whether it would be good for you, but whether it would be good for your career?
I want to address two types of telecommuting: working in a remote city versus working from home to avoid the commute.
Telecommuting in a Remote City
With advances in technology, it is now possible to work from just about anywhere.
This has great advantages:
- You are no longer restricted to working for companies located within your city
- Greater variety of opportunities
This also has a number of disadvantages:
- Team – When you are remote and, specifically, remote geographically, it is more difficult to develop relationships with your team. I have a client who manages multiple remote development teams, and he uses Google Hangouts to interact with them. This is still a challenge for him.
- Cross-Functional Teams – When you are not in the office, it is easy to be out of sight and out of mind. This is specifically true when you are trying to develop working relationships with people outside of your direct management chain.
Relationships are key to your career success. When you work in a remote city, you will really have to work to develop those key relationships.
Many of us have been given the option to work from home. Is this a good idea? It depends.
Is there a culture of telecommuting in the organization? If so, is there a pattern?
Do many employees work from home on Friday? Are there specific times of the week, like Wednesday morning, when employees work from home?
Whatever that pattern might be, follow that pattern. You want to telecommute whenever others telecommute. You want to be in the office when everyone else is in the office.
Why come into the office when most others are gone? I have one client who came into the office on days when others were telecommuting and she said it was like walking into a graveyard—really quiet!
Pick your times to be in the office when there is a high need for collaboration. Be strategic.
Resource Actions or Reduction in Force
Whenever there is a Resource Action or Reduction in Force or Redundancy, or whatever other names you have for a layoff, the easiest employees to eliminate are the remote employees. Often, management does not need to see these employees face to face to tell them their positions have been eliminated. I have seen this done over the phone and even by e-mail. Yes, I have known employees who were laid off via e-mail!
If you telecommute, you need to put some extra effort into developing key relationships. If you live locally, pick the times to work from home.
What relationships do you need to cultivate, and will telecommuting detract from those relationships?
In my honest opinion, there is a lot to be lost by telecommuting in bad times…and a lot to be gained in good times.
It should be noted that Flexjobs.com just released their list of Top 100 Companies with Remote Jobs in 2015.
Do you telecommute? Is it a good or bad situation?Marc Miller
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