Six Tips to Making a Tele-Work Job…Work!

Kelly Dingee Kelly Dingee, Telecommuting

I’ve been a “remote” or “virtual” or “teleworking” employee, since April of 1998.  I can remember clearly when I converted because I was pregnant with my second daughter.

And I was trying to quit my job.

My boss, Barb, was not having it.  I was a good employee, got the work done, and when push came to shove, young mom or not, put the time in to meet deadlines and deal with employee relations issues.  Come in at 5 am to field calls with London? I was there.  Guide our inbound call center staff through corrective actions and terminations? There for that too.  Deal with nightmare salary and commission based forecasting spreadsheets? Count me in.

So knowing I was up for anything, Barb came up with two things…a telecommuting plan, and a sourcing job.

And one of the things Barb said to me? Make this work.  Because you think it’s important to be home with the kids when they’re little, but what’s really important is being around when they’re teenagers.

So I took her advice, and 15 years later, still work from home.  What did we put in place that worked then and still works now?  Here it is….if you want to successfully be a “tele-worker” take note:

Dedicate space.  You need your own world to sink into and get the work done.  It also gives you the opportunity to shut off.  I have a lovely office in our basement and two stations set up – one for the home pc and family “stuff” and one for work.  I keep a clear separation of church and state.

Be Accessible.  It doesn’t matter you’re not in an official office, set your office hours and be available.  Sure, I do get up early and log a couple of hours before most of our team is up and running, but that’s fine.  There’s plenty to do and I still hold those office hours.

Quantify the work.  You know what you’re getting done and what you’re not.  You know what’s measurable and what’s not.

Put in the “face time”.  Your boss wants to see you? Once a week? Once a month? At company meetings? Be there.  No Flaking.

Communicate.  Everything.  The Good, the Bad and the God-awful.  When you’re in, when you’re not.  15 years ago there were no “smart phones” to create accessibility anywhere and everywhere.  Leverage technology to always be in touch with your boss and team.  And don’t always email, phone calls are a good thing for making you “real”.  Struggling with a task? Communicate.  More often than not collaborating and sharing the information will help you find a resolution.

Want it.  I’ve always felt that my tele-working situation was a privilege, not a right, not an entitlement.  I’ve earned it by proving I can get the job done.  Now I work at a very virtually oriented company and if anything, am better now at being accessible and communicating than I ever have been.  I also leverage every tool at my disposal to be available to our team and embrace cloud tech to get various jobs done.

Your company culture, and your boss, is going to dictate whether you can follow the guidelines above to be successful.  I’ve been fortunate that my employers over the last four years have focused more on what I can do, as opposed to where it’s being done.  The guidelines above have definitely helped me with retaining focus to get whatever the job was… corporate sourcing… contract sourcing… training and writing or… recruiting manager/blogger/speaker, done.