Just when you’d finally trained yourself to ignore your television set and refrigerator at your home office, your boss wants you back at your desk.
A growing number of employers, such as Bank of America and IBM, are bringing their remote employees back to the office. It’s all in the interest of increasing productivity and creativity, particularly at firms that consider their people to be their greatest resource.
These employers want their people to be able to have impromptu conversations around the water cooler and banter about ideas in the hallways or in the cafeteria. They want them to be able to bounce ideas off co-workers—while also acting as a sounding board themselves—and build stronger interpersonal relationships with their fellow team members.
Those impromptu conversations can often be a great springboard for creative ideas that would never materialize when people are working in isolation.
It can also be difficult to build and maintain trust in a virtual environment. If communication and interaction is spotty, productivity and engagement will suffer. To build trust, extra attention needs to be given to communicating goals and expectations, as well as the recognizing the contributions of remote team members. Sure, a webcam can let you see what somebody in a far-flung office looks like, but there’s no substitute for meeting colleagues in person and, better yet, having lunch with them or socializing after work.
But is it time to sound the death knell for remote work? Not quite. However, if you currently work remotely or are considering a virtual position, be prepared to put some extra effort into your career management strategy.
Dress for success. It’s very easy to start your work day in your bathrobe when working from your home office but there is plenty of research that shows you should dress for success. Putting on business attire when working from home can get you in the right mindset and positively impact productivity.
Be accountable. Working from home isn’t for everybody. Some people need their boss hanging over their shoulder to get their work done. To succeed in a virtual role you must be self-motivated and accountable every day at your home office. Set goals and deadlines and then hold yourself accountable for achieving them.
Make your contributions known. One of the downsides to working outside of the mother ship is if you’re out of sight, you can also be out of mind for decision-makers and overlooked for potential promotions or other interesting opportunities. Be sure to stay connected with your boss and your team so they’re aware off your accomplishments.
Interact regularly with coworkers. Working from home simply wasn’t a viable option a generation ago but technology has changed all of that. With built-in cameras in your laptop, connecting with colleagues from home is as simple as a couple of mouse clicks. Set up regular check-ins with your boss and team members to review goals and deliverables. This is a great opportunity to make sure projects are on track and brainstorm new ideas.
Mix it up. Come into the office a couple of times a week. It’s a great way to maintain some all-important connections and get some face-to-face time with key members of your team. Another option is to consider a co-working or shared work space to provide an environment that can help spark creativity.