by Kevin Hooks
Kevin is a native from Georgia who relocated to Tampa in early 2015. He has a BBA in Business and Economics from Mercer University, and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Previously, Kevin practiced employment law with a large specialty firm in Atlanta, and then started his own firm. Most recently, he operated his own HR consulting firm, providing a variety of outsourced HR services, including recruiting, to employers of all sizes. Throughout his career in employment law and then as an HR consultant, he has become very familiar with the advantages of flexible employment opportunities in the workplace.
So you landed that perfect job, the one that gives you the work-life balance you have been seeking. Your employer has given you the flexibility to work from home, and you want to show your new bosses that you can be efficient and productive while working remotely. What now? What steps do you take to make this work for you and your employer?
Be Responsive. The quickest way to lose the trust of your employer, and get your work-from-home job off on the wrong foot, is to go silent. Technological advances, which give you various forms of communication at your fingertips at all times, is the primary reason that employers are more open to telecommuting. If you do not respond to an employer’s email or telephone call in a timely manner, their first thought is going to be that you are not living up to your end of the bargain.
During your regularly scheduled hours, especially during the critical hours of your employer’s workday (typically between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm), make sure to respond promptly to all communications. Give yourself a goal of responding within no more than 5 minutes. Even if you do not have a substantive response ready, at least respond with a message letting your supervisor know that you received the message and will respond by a certain time. It is better to say “I will call (or email) you in 1 hour,” rather than simply waiting that full hour to respond. Timely communication will foster more trust with your employer.
Be Communicative. Particularly during the early stages of your work-from-home arrangement, it is better to be overly communicative with your supervisor and other team members. Give regular updates on where you stand with projects or tasks. Ask questions when necessary to clarify project requirements, expectations and deadlines. You should initiate communications as if you were down the hall from your supervisor. If you are giving too many updates, or reaching out too much, your employer will certainly let you know. But do not assume that you are communicating too much or pestering your supervisor. More communication – not less – will cut down on mistakes and misunderstandings.
Be Interactive. When working remotely, it is easy to feel isolated very quickly. To avoid this feeling of isolation, and to lay your claim to being a team player, take every chance you have to interact with other team members. Whenever there is a group communication, whether through email, GroupMe, Slack, etc., offer up your opinion. Respond to requests for input on certain issues raised in group communications. If you have questions, suggestions, or assistance that you can provide other team members, do not hesitate to reach out. Again, treat your work-from-home situation as if you have other team members down the hall. Fostering a team environment, and being an interactive member of the team, will enhance your remote working experience, and show your employer that you are truly engaged.
Be Proactive. Working from home requires discipline, and you need to set yourself up for success. Make sure that you have all the equipment and other tools you need to be successful in your home office. Give yourself a schedule and stick to it. And plan for unexpected workplace interruptions. If you have a deadline to get something to your supervisor, give yourself an earlier, self-imposed deadline to get the work done. While it is understandable that issues may arise – computer problems, internet connection goes out, a sick child that needs to go to the doctor – an employer is less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt if you are working from home, as opposed to if you were down the hall where an employer could see or hear the problem that arose. Do not put yourself in a situation where you appear to be making excuses.
As you can see from all of these points, communication is key with any work-from-home situation. So take the necessary steps to communicate in a timely and effective manner to get your flexible job off to a great start!