Letters from the Home Working Front Vol. 3
We have statistics, so it must be real
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, telecommuting has increased 103% since 2005, and in 2016 twenty-three percent of employees did some percentage of their work from home, with 3.3 million of us working from home full-time. This tells us that while the trend is aggressively moving toward at-home work, the bulk of employees are still on job sites and offices. So if the at home worker is to be successful, it follows that the more they can assimilate with their traditionally dispatched colleagues and customers who are largely location-based, the better.
There are some simple things you can do to make this happen. For example, I have yet to find anybody who has told me they really enjoy hearing somebody chew and swallow on a business call. Slurping your coffee with a mouthpiece an inch from your face is a turn off whether you’re talking to a prospective life-partner or business associate. And not answering a question on a business call because you are checking something on your mobile smacks of unprofessionalism and a lack of consideration. We all multi-task, that’s understood. And multi-tasking isn’t an exclusive function of working from home. But, the at-home worker needs to be more sensitive to the perception of productivity.
If you are working from home as an individual business owner or part of a smaller (less than 10 employee) operation, the key is obviously, to be as responsive as an office worker and provide the same communications services as a larger operation. With the advent of cloud-based solutions, it is easier and more affordable to accomplish this. An emerging additional benefit are the advanced collaboration solutions, like Circuit or Slack, that let you not only collaborate and share data, but store the conversation content for later meetings. This makes follow up more comprehensive and orderly when projects expand or change scope.
For those working as part of a larger organization, it is helpful to appear to be an office worker by using the same tools and being completely available during office hours. This is tough. When I said to my wife, “I’m going to be working from home from now on.” I think what she heard was, “I’m going to be handling the laundry, getting dinner ready, and answering all calls from pollsters and fundraisers from now on.” The other phenomenon at home is the perception that if you aren’t on a call, you aren’t working. Telling the kids to be quiet because you’re on a call can be the equivalent of telling them to raise holy hell as soon as you’re off the phone.
If your business provides you with the means to check the availability of a co-worker before calling them, use it. Get a high quality headset so you can hear and be heard. You probably need to invest in the best data network option you can get. All of these contribute to at-home workers effectively creating a seamless image among their peers and customers.