Skip to main content

Working at home – Lifestyle AND Career Choice

Working at home – Lifestyle AND Career Choice

It’s becoming easier.   Technology enables working from anywhere.   Go into any coffee shop and see the number of people working at laptops, holding meetings and sharing cell phone business conversations with the world at large…
But if you work for a corporate and are planning a big career, do the advantages of missing the daily commute and the noise and buzz of open plan space outweigh the disadvantages?
I do not believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder in the work environment.  In fact, just the opposite.
Teams work because they are close together.  You don’t build ability in a sports team by everybody practicing in separate venues and coming together five minutes before a match.  The same goes for a choir.
Or is that changing with social media?   Are people able to build up great team spirit and work effectively without proximity?
I think it’s possible unless the model is not consistent.  
So if you have a team of 10 where 5 work in the office and 5 work from home, the chances are the 5 who work together will tend to work more closely together, while the 5 working from home may also build a rapport.
Two teams of 5, though, loosely grouped into a team of 10 when necessary….
There does seem to be a fair amount of evidence to show that if the whole team works from home, the team spirit is easier to create.
Of course, it depends on what the work is.   Some jobs lend themselves to flexibility and work from home.
So what to look out for if this is the path you have chosen, and you still want promotions.
1.       Share that this is your current choice, and that you are looking to grow your career.  Your boss might believe that working from home is your career choice and not consider you for opportunities.
2.       Be aware that people in the office are more likely to be given those ad hoc type of projects simply because they are there.
3.       Managers are more likely to build emotional connections with people they see every day, so in tough times their decision making processes might be influenced by this.
a.       Remember the Executive lift story – there is a view that if you are seen after 5 or before 8 you are working hard, so if you catch the lift at the same time as senior execs in the evenings it will add to your credibility.   Irritating, yes!   Politically savvy? Maybe.
4.       Proactive feedback into the team and management is stress relieving because anything you get as a manager without asking for it is a bonus! 
5.       There is a perception that people working from home are less structured in their time management ie spread their 8 hour work load over 12 hours.   That is OK if management agree to those terms, but if you are at a swimming gala or toddler’s party when your boss thinks you are at your desk, trust levels will drop.
6.       Learn to write emails using positive language, it is too easy to blast off a quick response in writing without realising that it might not be seen as constructive at the other end.
7.      
Do try to separate your home and work space so that people contacting you are not privy to home background noises.   Once again, the perception received is that of a professional and where you are becomes irrelevant.
a.       At Business Connexion and Telkom we are working with the Senn Delaney concept of “Be Here Now”.
b.       A key component of this is giving your full attention to the space you are currently inhabiting.   So being able to close the door on work should assist with this.


8.    Ensure that the deliverables are clearly defined and regularly re-evaluated.   It is very easy to slip into a comfort zone and not be aware that your boss is satisfied but not delighted.
9.       Should you be one of a few people who contribute from home, it is important to try and build relationships.  
a.       Whether you are an individual or a branch office, distance can cause exclusion;
b.       If you play golf, try and arrange the odd game with your work mates;
c.        As a woman, (and non-golfer)  I have found that finding the right opportunities to socialise and build relationships at a distance is not easy, so an awareness of this and communicating that you want to participate in social events is important.
10.    Working from home also can give your family and friends the impression that you are available during business hours for personal issues.   Have the conversations about this early so that you can prevent hurt feelings and misunderstandings when you are clearly at home, but not available.
Working from home can be productive, time saving and cost effective, but I also know that changing perception around it is a work in progress.
Traditional company culture might pay lip service to flexibility and work from home but unconscious – or conscious - bias against people who are not present daily can have a negative impact on career growth. 
As part of putting this article together, I discussed the downside of work from home with my colleague, Cathie Webb.   We both adhere to the “getting everybody together in one room to quickly resolve a problem” principle.   While we know that technology (to be really effective, though, there is a cost) and good planning can assist with this, efficiencies may be lost.   We also talked about how many good ideas come from spontaneous brain storming sessions.  
 I am very interested to hear from people who have made a success of this in a corporate structure, and get their input on how they have managed the process.



Links, References and Notes

Accsys provides people management solutions ie Payroll, Human Resources (HR), Time and Attendance as well as Access Control/Visitor Management.
The company develops, implements, trains and services our solutions.  We provide readers, turnstiles, booms and CCTV.
We run both on premise and in the cloud, as well as mobile options for ESS.  Recruitment, online education and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) are part of our offering, too.
http://www.accsys.co.za/accsys-peopleplace-talent-management
email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn
Note:   Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source.Share

Popular posts from this blog

Agile workers & workspaces - a new way of working..

Being an agile worker is still a work in progress…
Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace?And is it really working? We keep renaming it – remote, activity based and agile work being some of the current terms. The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does look like a great way to work and live, and it seems to be is a high priority for those entering the business world. There is also the development of the agile work space, where people come to the office each day, but don’t have a fixed work area.We used to call it hot desking back in the day and it met with mixed success.Today, office designers have started to create work spaces which are intended to encourage innovative thought, cross departmental collaboration and improved productivity. My research indicates that the mix of engaged and disengaged employees in an open plan workspace does not always have the desired effect of the positive workers influencing the culture.In fact, a case study of a senior execut…

It's Not Your Fault, But..

It’s Not Your Fault, But…
Its’s not mine, either. When something goes wrong, whether at work or home, most people immediately start casting around for somebody to blame. Over the weekend, I was reading and drinking a cup of coffee which was perched on the arm of the couch.  I do this daily, and have never spilled it.   My daughter came into the room, I put my reader down next to me and we started chatting.  A little later, I picked the reader up, turned to my coffee, and knocked it over.  Something in my expression caused her to ask whether it was her fault.  Of course, it wasn’t, but a mean, small part of me was thinking, well, no, but if you hadn’t come in the room…  And she was kind enough to help me clear it up!
If that lamp post wasn’t there If that faster person wasn’t in the race If the traffic light hadn’t turned red at just that moment If we hadn’t hired Joe, I would have got the promotion If, if, if….. We are very quick to accept the “if” when it is about us, and much slower to do so…

Setting Budgets and Targets

Does too much of a stretch impact motivation?    Over many years of setting (and trying to achieve) targets and budgets, getting the balance right between stretch and motivation remains a challenge.

I love Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and their BHAGs in their great book, Built to Last, but if the goals are seen as unachievable too early in the business year, what then?

Is there a way for businesses to achieve success without budgets and targets in place?

Two old favourites " You can only manage what you can measure" and "People do what managers measure" suggest that they can't.  I am sure there must be successful businesses with different methodologies, but most of us need to work towards something.

With that in mind, I think there needs to be stretch, and there needs to be a sense of achievability.

Why would you race against Usain Bolt unless you think you could win?

The same goes for budgets and targets, people need to believe they are possible.

So how do you…