When Mobile Gets Really Mobile
Letters from the Home Working Front Vol. 5
Most of us who work in a home office have stretched the definition and boundaries of “home office.” For example, when we have company, my home office moves to a work bench and stool in my garage. Goodness knows it’s the only truly productive activity that has ever come from that workbench.
In North America, the need to be constantly connected to work is becoming a fact of life. It’s not necessarily a good fact of life, but when is the last time somebody started a conversation by saying “This is a fact of life” and it ended up being a good thing? So if we are going to work almost every day, it makes sense to limit the aggravation factor. There are a couple of steps and habits that can make working from anywhere at any time much less aggravating.
First, don’t work on weekends and vacations. Ha! It would probably be more helpful if I gave you witty responses to the people who tell you to completely disconnect from work. But, there is a difference between “have to” work and “checking in” work. The checking in part is where we can and should cut back significantly. There are very few life and death situations and let’s face it when we “check in” we are prone to do a little extra work as well. It’s a guilt trip we sign up for, not something our companies insist we do.
Second, buy a mobile hot spot. These are easy to get from your mobile device provider. Having the luxury of working with roughly the same quality connection greatly reduces frustration and improves your mobile flexibility. This is especially true if you have the option of a Unified Communications capability and can make and receive calls using your laptop. I was in Florida in February and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic at zero dark thirty while on a call with overseas colleagues. They assumed I was in my cold, gray cell in Philadelphia, so they ended the call quicker than usual. Big win for the home team.
A third and really simple adjustment is one-number service combined with an intelligent out of office alert for e-mail. Most of us have the ability to have our calls routed to a single phone number through UCC (Unified Communications and Collaboration) or call forwarding. Make that a habit. Also, when you are going to be away from the office, be sure to leave an out of office alert, but think about how you want that alert to read. It might be best to indicate your availability clearly and how often, or rarely, you will be checking for messages. Most people are in the same boat as you are and will respect the vacation or travel terms. Those that don’t respect the terms are unintentionally clueless or need a life. In either case, they can’t help themselves so go easy on them.