Warning: This isn’t necessarily travel or miles and points related. However, a lot of business travelers work at home when they aren’t on the road, so I thought it might make for some interesting discussion.
As you probably know, I have a regular day job that pays most of the bills here at MJ on Travel World HQ. It’s a “normal office job” that requires about 30 to 40 percent travel, sometimes more in a busy year which this one is shaping up to be. Recently, some decisions were made to remodel portions of the building where I work. My office isn’t getting redone, but nonetheless, I’m impacted by it. The contractor doing the work recommended that all the workers in that area of the building be relocated for 2 months while the work goes on. For me, that meant one thing – working from home full time. (aka tele-work, tele-commuting, etc.)
I’ve tele-worked 1 day per week for years, so it wasn’t a totally new idea, but for me working at home full time seemed a little daunting. I manage a number of staff, and I’m in the middle of some pretty high visibility projects, with one of those at a particularly critical phase. While I’m confident that my crew wouldn’t use the word “micro manager” in a description of me, that “particularly critical” project just seemed to need some hands on management. In the end, the only real problem in teleworking full time has been me – I am highly extroverted. I like people. I like being around other people. Working at home, it’s just my staff assistant and me.
He doesn’t talk much, and after a month of this, that’s OK. Between email, instant messaging software (that happens to have voice and video capability), and (le gasp) a telephone, my team and I have not missed a beat. We moved that big project out the door with a minimum of fuss. Best of all, I’ve traveled on business during 2 out of 4 weeks to keep things interesting. One month in, and I think I’ve figured out a way to do this longer term.
Routines are important – Wake up on schedule, shower, shave and get ready for work even though you don’t have to commute to the office. Flip flops and shorts are still OK. 😀
Talk to your people – You don’t have to be annoying, but maintain contact with your team via something other than email. Keep your staff meeting schedule, just teleconference in or host an online video chat if you have the capability. Call your team members individually on occasion for some one on one time to show you’re engaged with them and available.
Manage up – Make sure the bosses at HQ know you are on top of things. If there’s an opportunity to participate in a meeting with upper management, make sure you dial in. Better yet, if there’s a face time opportunity, take it.
Meet your deadlines – Maintaining productivity is key. It keeps you engaged, and it shows the higher ups that you are still in the game even if you’re working at home while the cat watches.
At this point, I think my biggest challenge will be facing the fact that I may not want to go back to the old way of working. What about you? Any fellow travelers out there work from home full time and have some advice to share?
-MJ, May 24, 2014