Whether you call it telecommuting, working from home, mobile work or remote work, it is a fact telework is on the rise. Thanks to the advancement of digital technologies, doing some or all of your work outside of your employer’s offices is trendy and growing.
Is working from home, your favourite coffee shop or even a beach always more profitable for you and your employer?
This article sheds light on what is reduced, what increases, what you need to pay attention to. It also offers strategic solutions to work well in telework mode, while continuing to radiate confidence and credibility.
I – WHAT IS REDUCED
All of the costs related to your commute: gas and the maintenance of your car, the monthly public transit pass and parking are lower in your budget. Maybe the second family car is no longer even needed…?
You need less clothes, your seasonal wardrobe is narrower. Your clothing budget is less. When you have to meet with team members, customers or suppliers, you can put your clothes back on without worrying that you are suspected of not having had the opportunity to go back home the day before, to change your clothes.
Warning: What you wear impacts your posture and your spirit. Your attire is judged by others, including when you are on a videoconference whether you are at home, the cottage or the beach. Wherever you are, you must look like your role and be credible to do what you do.
Solution: wear clean clothes without wrinkles or stains, inspired by your daily activities. Do not skimp on the bottom of your attire, just in case you have to get up. Oh, oh! Remember Ron Burgundy in Anchorman? And always have clothes ready for last-minute meetings.
Your coffee and lunch envelopes will be thinner and sipping your coffee at home, is less expensive than at the restaurant or your favourite coffee shop.
With more flexibility in your schedule, you will benefit from less stress from your work-family balance and your personal life.
Warning: having access to your work tools from anywhere, being reachable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year can be overwhelming.
Solution: Validate and announce your office hours and usual responsiveness. Don’t overestimate your ability to get things done. Be realistic and assign timelines accordingly.
Traffic jams, the weather, construction and road blocks are out of your control and the stress associated with these unforeseeable situations is gone, or almost.
Warning: the weather could cause technological breakdowns.
Solution: Identify and make arrangements to connect elsewhere when there are disruptions.
Unpleasant colleagues, disturbing smells, distracting sounds, impromptu visits, the continuous flow of team members and gossip disappear from your daily routine, you are less annoyed and irritated.
Your sense of belonging
Without daily contact, meetings and hallway conversations, the organizational mission, along with the vision and the values can be diminished. List your priorities regularly and compare them with organizational goals.
Warning: far from collective synergy, loneliness can be a side effect. Away from the eyes of the employer, some employees may go under the radar of promotions.
Solution: Establish regular visits, meetings and reports with your leaders and colleagues. Organize lunches and other activities to boost team building. Present your success modestly using quantitative and qualifying data.
II– WHAT INCREASES
Your technical skills
Emails, teleconferences, webinars, text messages, phone calls and who knows what other mode of communication we will be using in the next few months or years. By working remotely, you develop these skills. Bravo, techno pro!
Warning: you are responsible for maintaining and ensuring the operation of your equipment and all your devices. You are also responsible for the confidentiality and protection of your documents.
Solution: If your employer does not offer technical support, find a trusted supplier and another one, just in case. Backup regularly and establish a prevention calendar. When you are visited, close the windows on your computer and even your devices. Also keep your documents under lock and key.
Warning: what you project in your communications also reflects on your employer.
Solution: Be strict about adhering to company policies and practices in your email, voicemail, social media and on your computer. Make sure that your decor and all that is seen in a videoconference reflect your role and your employer, including the choice of your glass. Compared to an opaque glass with the logo of a beer brand, a transparent glass with water will leave no doubt about your drink, especially if it is quarter to midnight on a Friday evening, when you are chatting with a customer in another time zone.
No more wasted time going back and forth to the office, finding a parking spot and ruminating in traffic. You are no longer late and you are less absent.
Warning: while waiting for communications from colleagues who think you now have a flexible timetable, that may be outside of business hours, you can waste time.
Solution: within your team, formalize the expected return times and the preferred modes of communication, according to the variety of messages and tasks.
You are no longer interrupted by whoever talks too much or too loud, out of the blue sits to chat or holds you back when you get out of the bathroom. In your bubble, a few minutes after your first coffee of the day, you are fresh and quickly ready to work.
Warning: interruptions from family members, neighbours and even your pets may be increased.
Solution: announce your day’s activities with a board on your door or a poster. Notify loved ones that you are not taking calls. During working hours, do not interact on social media, unless it is for work,
Your employment possibilities
By saying “bye-bye” to the constraints of travel, you are quickly connected to the world-wide web. The whole world is waiting for the gem you are!
Warning: Canada has six time zones and our world has 24 time zones. Work habits and hours are linked to culture.
Solution: inform yourself and respect what is done or not done elsewhere. If need be, contact your favourite etiquette expert for a coaching and your cultural intelligence profile.
Easy access to your favourite hobbies and your favourite treats and even household chores could be very enticing and lure you away from work and ultimately affect your performance.
Solution: maintain a regular schedule, that is based on your biorhythm and your efficiency. During your work times, stay within your work area and only visit the washroom. Access the kitchen, the yard or go run errands only during your breaks and at the end of your work day.
In nomadic or sedentary mode in an office at home or from almost anywhere on the planet, according to survey results employees who have the privilege of teleworking are happier and richer.
Before you go shopping for your office equipment and supplies or announce a new policy that allows teleworking, make sure you have the essential teleworking qualities: discipline, self-motivation and focus. Regularly validate your expectations regarding deadlines and deliverables.
If necessary, participate or offer training on data security, organization and time prioritization, including how to divide workspaces as well as professional and personal time.
Finally, since you will be far from applause, and recognition pat yourself on the back and celebrate your successes.
Originally published in French in La référence of l’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines du Québec, January 2020 (c) Julie Blais Comeau