How to Make Telecommuting Work for Your Company

With all the speculation around Marisa Mayer’s decision to reduce telecommuting options and Best Buy’s decision to get rid of ROWE, I’ve been a little concerned about the subject. Although their choices are their choices and I’m sure they had good reasoning for it, I don’t think other companies should start panicking over this. More importantly, I don’t think companies should start rethinking their telecommuters (or their plans to implement them) just because these two situations occurred. Both companies had issues beforehand and didn’t make the decision out of the blue. So, let’s not get all crazy about it. I work virtually every single day and found that it has been better for my career, productivity, and growth than the years I spent going into the office.

Sometimes virtual work and telecommuting options don’t work properly because: they are not implemented well; they are not managed well; the option doesn’t work with the job function; or the wrong people are being allowed to telecommute. Too often we hear about the negativity of things, but what about the positive aspects of it? I’m living proof that it CAN work if it’s done right.

Here are some suggestions to make telecommuting work effectively:

  • Utilize different forms of technology that makes sense for your company. This can increase opportunity for collaboration and communication in a functional way.
  • Create expectations and a plan for managers to manage this successfully.  Managers need to be very involved in the daily activities of their teams, communicate feedback regularly, and make themselves available for additional training/assistance.
  • Allow HR to look for opportunities that increases engagement throughout the organization. Some of these activities could include different committees within the company to help the company be progressive. It can also allow employees to partner up with people they might not normally work with. This can create a strong sense of community and team work.
  • Hire the right people for this position. The people who are a fit for this are ones that are trail-blazers, internally motivated, Type A, and accountable. They don’t believe in making excuses- they believe in working hard. This hard-work and dedication can inspire others and set the bar for the organizational expectations.
  • Create a culture in which they leave no man (or woman) behind. All of the employees should be there for each other and they should make sure they help out one another to ensure everyone hits their goals and expectations.
  • Compare notes regularly. Employees of the organization should regularly meet to discuss different tactics they utilize which can ensure they are managing their time well. This can keep them productive and effective at their jobs. Employees are able to learn from each other and they can try different options to see what works for their needs.

Like I said earlier, I feel like I’ve progressed more in my career working virtually than in an office. I’ve not only done well at my job, hit goals, and made my managers/clients happy but I’ve also had the ability to take on other projects that I am passionate about. Essentially, I am defining my own career path. I’m responsible for my professional development.

You don’t believe me? Check out this infographic on Youtern.

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Benefits of Working Remotely/Virtually

There seems to be this on-going idea that remote or virtual workers don’t work as hard or effectively as those who come into the office. Additionally, there is this common thought that these types of workers don’t receive any perks of working for a company because they are no longer physically there. Some may even believe that these types of jobs are illegitimate or a scam. Others could think that these individuals would be miserable because they don’t see/interact with anyone. In some cases, this might be very true. However, I would like to put this common belief to rest. After working in a virtual environment and speaking to others who have worked remotely for years, I have learned that there are many benefits to this type of role.

If your company has found a way to implement this role effectively, you may find that working virtually/remotely has both personal and professional benefits:

  • Increased communication: Working outside of the office means that you must rely heavily on communication. Also, your communication must not be taken advantage of. Because these roles rely heavily on using communication successfully, it has allowed an increase in effective collaboration. Additionally, employees felt that they built stronger relationships and teams because of this reliance on communication.
  • Increase in productivity and accountability: A lot of worker’s complain that they are not engaged because they do not feel responsible or accountable for anything. They also feel as if though they are not empowered to do their best. If you are working in a role like this, you have to be self-driven, organized, good with time management, and accountable. Your success and failures occur due to what you produce. Individuals in this role have found work to be more meaningful.
  • You are relocatable: Sometimes, things change in life. Perhaps you are a nomad that wants to explore other areas. Maybe a significant other is in the military or needs to transfer for a company. Perhaps you need to move to help a loved one during sickness or a hard time. Or maybe you want to try someplace new that has a better living situation. Reasons are endless and many times people can feel unfulfilled or stressed if they feel that they have no options to do these things. Working remotely can allow you to easily relocate for whatever reason without having to quit a job or search for a new one in the new area.
  • It can help your job search: Some areas just really don’t have a good job market and your job hunt may be unsuccessful. Maybe the area you live in doesn’t even have companies that support the type of industry you are targeting. Remote/virtual work can allow you to gain employment for the job function or industry you desire, with a company that is out of the area. Companies that offer this option can expand their job offerings to people that are struggling to find work in their current location.
  • Can cut costs and time: You can save a ton of money working home if you don’t need to spend it on transportation and gas. You can also cut down time spent on commuting and allow yourself to have a little extra time to either work harder, handle personal affairs, or even just relax. Who wouldn’t want to save money and give a few moments back to themselves?
  • Always be there:  This is a great option for parents or pet owners. Sometimes parents/pet owners do not have the means to pay for babysitters, boarding, walkers, or daycare. Additionally, some parents/owners don’t want to use these options because they want their children or pet to know them while growing up. This option can allow you to be home and be there for when your children grow up or when your pets need you.

Of course, there can be chances where people take advantage of working from home, which is why this stereotype is out there. Surprisingly though, many people who are self-driven can be even more productive and dedicated to work than those who come into the office each day. It’s really all about finding candidates that are results driven because they’ll be the producers that are successful in any environment (inside or outside of the office). If you are a company, consider these options. You can cut overhead costs and expand your workforce to areas that have talent you wouldn’t be able to find in your immediate area. If you are a job seeker, be sure to consider this option because there are many benefits, such as the ones mentioned above.

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Become a “Rock Star” While Job Hunting

On Friday, I had written a post that talked about building up your confidence through the grueling process of job hunting. It’s tough- trust me, I know. There are plenty of days that I want to throw my laptop out the window from pure frustration. However, I’ve learned to pull it together during a time that really wanted to test me. Perhaps it’s my defiant nature, but I’ve vowed that I will beat this. Having this “can-do” attitude is helping me tremendously and I would love to help you get to this point, as well. Therefore, I’ll be happy to share some tips and suggestions on how to make yourself become a rock star while searching for your next employer.

First, I would like to mention that there are many beneficial reasons for harnessing this sense of self-worth. To name a few:

• You’ll display yourself in a confident demeanor during interviews.
• You’ll keep your sanity if you’re unemployed and bored sitting home.
• You won’t let rejection defeat you.
• You’ll keep your priorities in check and won’t accept a job just because it’s the first thing to come up.
• You could discover something interesting and useful about yourself.

As you see above, there are plenty of reasons why you should take a break from the job boards and take some time to work on yourself. Rejection after rejection can kill confidence which will end up hurting your job hunting progress. If you’re currently reading this post, then it is apparent to me that you care about finding a good job. Since I understand your current state, I would love to do anything I can to help you. Therefore, below are a few suggestions on how to build up your self-assurance and potentially get employers interested:

Break out of your comfort zone: Go to local meet-and-mingle events for professionals with the sole intention of learning more about the businesses in your surrounding area. Don’t come off as desperate by starting it off with a “please hire me” campaign. This tactic could potentially put up the “gatekeepers’” defenses. Instead, spend time asking questions about them and their company. Conversations like this could help you figure out which companies you’d want to target. Additionally, this can allow you to create a networking relationship with them. These gatekeepers are the ones who determine if your resume gets through or not, so get on their good side.

Be a socialite: Talk to anyone about anything. You may be pleasantly surprised at the new insight you gain. I’ve spent time reaching out to people all over the business spectrum and ended up learning a lot. These individuals have taught me: life lessons that changed my perspective; introduced me to businesses that fit what I’m looking for; gave me new tips on how get employers’ attention; and directed me to new resources that helped me learn about specific topics. I was also surprised by how willing people were to help and how supportive they were.

Get virtual: Join professional networking sites and contribute to discussion boards in various groups. You can learn more about business and expand knowledge by talking to professionals throughout the world. I have been utilizing sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to get exposure. I have found that using these websites and really taking the time to communicate ideas thoughtfully have taken me further in my job search than simply submitting resumes to job postings. Even if the individuals I’ve spoken to couldn’t help me directly, they have been kind enough to connect me with someone who could.

Take time to do something you love: Only focusing on the job search can create stress that hinders your productivity. Take a breather and do something you love to break up the search stress. Taking this break could put you in better spirits and in a better mind-set when attacking the job boards again.

Reward yourself: Most job seekers beat themselves up over their unemployment or underemployment. However, you’re making an effort in the right direction and deserve to reward yourself for working hard. Trust me- you’ve earned it.

Try something that interests you: Too often we focus on what we have done previously rather than what we’ve always wanted to do. Give it a shot- take a class; watch an instructional video; or read a “how-to” blog/book. You could discover you’re better at something new rather than something you’ve been doing for years. Learning this about yourself could open yourself up to opportunities you’ve never considered before. Opening your mind can help you break out of the box you may have trapped yourself in.

Realize it’s never too late to switch gears: The world is full of options. It’s also full of resources to obtain the experience and education you need to pursue those options. It is never too late to switch career paths. Like my father always said to me, “I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.” He’s been a loyal employee of the electric union for over 25 years. It’s nice to know he still has the mentality that opportunities are always there, no matter what you’re doing in life. I always appreciated the fact that my dad encouraged me to find what feels best for me instead of pushing me into a specific major or career. That inspiration is helping me more than ever right now.

Put yourself out there and take chances: If playing it safe isn’t getting you the response you need (or any response at all), then you need to try a new tactic. Take a chance, try something new, get exposure, and put your all into it. People respect others who show courage. You may be able to catch the attention of the right people because of it. My blog is my example of putting myself out there. I was happy to know that this approach could be successful, as I read in this article.

Life sometimes has a way of making the steady ground you stand on become unstable. Unfortunately, we can’t control when or why this situation occurs. However, you can control how you handle the circumstances. Job seeking isn’t easy but these suggestions can help you get back on your feet.

Send me a tweet and let me know how these suggestions have successfully worked for you: @AshLaurenPerez

Links:
How to Blog Your Way Out of That Entry-Level Job
10 Tips for Job Seekers in the Digital Era
Intel’s Networking Tips Blog Post

Companies mentioned:
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