How Working from Home Can Work Against You | Social Media Today
Sign up | Login with →
Posted by: Khalid Raza

How Working from Home Can Work Against You

Like it?
6

Collaboration is the buzz word these days and with the advent of tools allowing it, world has become smaller. People now do not have to be co-located to work together. Everything is getting virtual.

Managing WorkOrganizations are now doing everything to cut costs and allowing work-force to work from home (WFH) is a brilliant phenomenon. Although some studies suggest that working from may translate into longer hours but if done effectively, it allows employees to be more productive and less stressed. As in my case :-)

Employees do the same job but do not need to come to work. Teams are now globally distributed but work seamlessly. Organizations are saving costs and people are become productive.

IBM allows several categories of employees to work from home. For many others, it's flexible, with managers taking the call. "Work /life balance touches morale, productivity and retention. Current lifestyles have resulted in higher stress levels and we take a positive view towards creating a conducive environment to help people integrate work and life," says Chandrasekhar Sripada, head HR, IBM India.

World is Awesome! But wait a minute – is everything really awesome?

According to BusinessWeek, a recent survey concluded that 50 percent of the workers said their bosses are reluctant to have their employees work from home. How can someone possible to focus on work with this plethora of distractions? Is it even possible to work efficiently?

Apparently, it is. A study by Stanford University found that workers are actually more productive when working from home. According to the study, people had higher work satisfaction when working from home, and their performance increased over 12 percent during a nine month experiment. Source

With this new freedom, comes a new set of responsibilities, which can make or break your impression and career too. Employees, who work from home, need to be extra careful about perception-management now than ever before. When people do not see you at work every day, they form their opinions based on nothing and that can be detrimental. Sometimes it is perceived that employees, who work from home, do not work at all.

In my last role, I faced a similar challenge and there was no way at the end of the year for me to change the impression my manager had. It resulted in a not-so-good appraisal for me.

So what can you do to ensure, WFH, doesn’t work against you? I am listing few steps/actions which every WFH employee should consider:

  1. Use your instant messenger wisely: When your manager and team need to contact you, they will use IM to connect with you. Your delayed response will tell people that you have logged in but may be out somewhere. Put ‘away’ when not in front of the system and ‘available’ when you are. Incorrect status message will allow people to form opinions. Do respond to IM as soon as possible. Remember, IM is the first contact point for virtual teams and you do not want people to ping you and wait forever.Communicate Effectively
  2. Be available on phone: Ensure your manager and team knows your work time schedules and your availability. Your phone should be in your reach at all times. There is nothing more irritating that not able to reach a WFH employee. If you see a missed call, respond actively. Remember, your salary comes from your work no matter where you work from. By not answering calls, you letting people know that you were not near your home-office and may be watching a cricket match on TV.
  3. Respond to emails, in time: As a WFH employee, your response time to emails should not go awry. If it was a conventional (co-located office) set up, people would see you and comfort that the response is on its way. But when they do not see you, they need to get answers quickly. And who likes unread emails in their mailboxes, anyway. Late replies tell people that you are not looking at your inbox and may be busy on Facebook.
  4. Join meetings on time: Joining meeting late is a cardinal sin and more so for a WFH employee. You are sitting on your desk (at home) so there is no way you should be late. Communicate if your last meeting is running over. Join late also shows that you are not managing your time well.
  5. Ensure you are visible: Have a nice, well-lit and professional photo on your profile and use the same for your LinkedIn (or any other professional account) account. Since people do not see you, they would love to have a face to associate with your name. Have your designation mentioned clearly. If you have a different functional reporting chain, mention that too.

All these points majorly focus on two key factors and those are ‘communication’ and ‘approachability’. If there is any lag in either or both, your image will get a beating. Also consider downloading this Best Practices for Working on the Go pdf from GotoMeetings.

Read this article on SocialGlamor.



Authored by:

Khalid Raza

Khalid is working as Social Business Program Manager, Social Learning evangelist and Enterprise Community Manager at IBM. He supports the efforts of IBM's Social Business Management Council, Brand Systems, Cyber Security and Privacy organization to define IBM's Social Business policies and deliver specific programs that position IBM as the global leader in the application of Social Media and ...

See complete profile

Would you like to contribute to this site? Get started »

» Already a member? Login now to comment!

» Not a member? Register to comment!

Like it?
3

February 4, 2013

Tom Brennan says:

Great comments !

As more people become involved in the internet and global market, the traditional office/cubicle environment will contract but not disappear. More information-product workers will work remotely by smart-er phones and use cloud technology. I used to be a cubicle staffer at my last "desk job". Today I am appalled at the waste of gas, time and brain power. Although I work much longer hours today (17 hours a day, 7 days a week as a web content consultant, ranch manager and cowboy..there's a combination for you), I get more done because more has to be done.I have taken responsibility for the quality of my own work because it's signed with my company's name Horse-Sense-Media, because I said I would do the work required to keep 26 show horses healthy and competitive, and because it's the ethical and proper thing to do. Not everyone will choose to work this way, and if they can't be self-disciplined and motivated, they shouldn't.

 

I think there will be a gradually increasing shift to cloud-based, remote work. But the test will be how dedicated and productive those workers will be. The pressure will be on the cublcle-based to match the productivity of the remote WFH (or barn and pasture, like me). This will be very, very interesting to watch.

Share this comment:

Like it?
2

January 26, 2013

Malabika Debnath says:

Great tips, Khalid! Here's another one- take advantage of video tools. Working from home, you can still 'see' your team/manager. My previous team used video to great effect, when we met for our daily/periodic calls. With geographically dispersed teams becoming a norm in large organizations, video, to an extent, also brings back the sense of community that we have lost due to challenges with colocation.

Share this comment:

Like it?
4

February 4, 2013

Khalid Raza says:

This is so important too Mala. Videos help a long way. I recall, when I first saw Sarah Siegel, my colleague and friend, who was my team-lead while I transitioned into a new role, on a video, the connect between us grew stronger as team members. I feel seeing people makes a whole lot of difference.

Share this comment:

Like it?
4

January 25, 2013

Tom Brennan says:

This is a good combination of recommendations for those who work remotely. My last office/cubicle job has some elements that apply to perceptions by supervisors and co-workers. Being on time: for work in general and meetings. You are on the clock when you are scheduled to be there. Planning your work or even being able to talk/communicate online when expected isa matter for beig ethical and  responsible. We had a sales rep who would sneak in when it fit her schedule (usually late) and even de-activated a secure door by removing the battery so she could enter a back entrance. Her ruthless sales methods didn't help her relationships either. Being a work from home employee gives advantages but still demands increased attention to being available.

I work from home as a consultant. I also help out with managing a ranch. Often times "stuff happens" that isn't planned (broken fences, escaped steers, weather emergencies) still I have two laptops, a netbook, a tablet and cell phone: no excuses, I will respond on time and can take my wireless with me.

On the good side for employers, a work from home staff member will not be wasting time at the coffee pot talking about the last football game, American Idol, bad dates or other chatter. Work from home staff are usually highly disciplined, motivated and productive (we have to be, most of us work around the clock, not watching it). Commute times, lunch, breaks and too many unproductive meetings are eliminated .Used wisely, work from home is good for employees and business but perception is an ongoing issue.

 

 

 

Share this comment:

Like it?
3

February 4, 2013

Khalid Raza says:

I coudln't agree more with you Tom. I have been a victim of 'perception' while I was in a regular office-going role. But I learned that a lot depended on me as to how I a picture myself in front of others. And with WFH, this is really imperative as there is no way one can create any impression.

Share this comment:

Like it?
6

January 24, 2013

Kent Ong says:

As long as a staff has good discipline or able to finish work, job or project on time, what time they spend is not really important. It is about quality of work, not quantity of time. If I can finish a job in three hours but another staff in 6 hours. I am more effective.

Share this comment:

Like it?
5

January 24, 2013

Khalid Raza says:

Thank you Kent for stopping by and sharing your perspective. In today's global/connected invironment, it is very difficult to work in 9-5 environment. And situation gets even bad when employees work from home. In a day's time they attend to multiple household chores, even if they do not want to. Being able to create a work-life integration is the key.

Also the perceptio of people around you is te key. I agree that we have jobs to finish but 'being-available' and 'being-approachable' are traits of leaders and employees need to reflect those before they become leaders. Employees, who work from home, need to be extra careful about perception-management now than ever before.

And once the credibility is built, employees can be as free as a bird. As you said, just do your work and no one wil care where/how you spend your time.

Share this comment:

 
Logo