Spouse’s job relocation.
A desire to live near extended family.
Lifestyle change or intrepid stint as a digital nomad.
These are some of the quality-of-life reasons you might keep your current job, but do it far from your employer’s locale. Like several states away. Or even another country.
Thanks to tech advances and cool collaboration tools, doing your job from anywhere is a viable work option for many knowledge workers. Including you, perhaps.
Whether you telecommute from your home office, a high-rise in Hong Kong or a beach hut in Honduras, there’s one step you don’t want to skip to make remote work a success.
I recently heard from one of my customers who arranged a sweet deal to work remotely, but she saw some dangers signs surface about two months in. Let’s look at–and learn from–her misstep.
Hi, Pat. Thanks to your template, I’m now working remotely 5 days per week in Reno and traveling to the office in San Francisco once every 4-6 weeks. It has been lovely.
I started 9 weeks ago, and it has now come to my attention that HR is asking around my office how my work arrangement is negatively impacting my co-workers jobs. How do you suggest I address this proactively, if at all? Vexed Valerie*
Here’s what I later found out:
Valerie had totally skipped the crucial evaluation portion of her telecommuting trial period. That’s a misstep that will derail the arrangement.
Evaluate and Communicate
Soon after your telecommuting trial period begins, it’s likely that some minor logistical issues will arise. These will most likely be related to communication, but it could be anything.
- Be alert to them and address issues right away. (Yes, Valerie, the proactive approach is vital. Hiding out from a communication issue won’t advance your goals.)
- Keep communication with others open and active.
- Reassure the parties involved, spreading liberal doses of appreciation for their cooperation in making adjustments that assure continued success of your arrangement.
- Let your manager know what’s happening in an informal way; a verbal update in the early weeks should be sufficient. However, given the “players” involved, you may want to put an early status report in a memo or email.
During all of the trial period, monitor and document the specific performance measures which you listed in your original proposal under the “Evaluation” section. These will form the basis of your end-of-trial period evaluation report. Agree with your manager how often s/he would like work reports.
Input from others is one of the evaluation measures.
- Actively solicit comments from your direct manager, coworkers, as well as internal and external customers.
- Learn how your new work arrangement is impacting them.
- Emphasize what’s working well.
- Then collaborate with them to develop solutions to satisfy their concerns and abate any real or perceived operational disruptions.
Course Correction, ASAP
I directed Valerie back to her Telecommuting Proposal Package to access the evaluation memo templates. Here’s her follow up report:
I did initiate a weekly wrap-up email to my boss letting her know the status of all my projects and what I was working on. I don’t know if she reads it but at least it’s on record. I also made an effort to reach out to that HR representative and let her know–without stating directly–what I was working on and when I was traveling for work.
It definitely helped to mitigate perceptions and make them feel comfortable that I am working hard. I also got feedback from my boss that I’m doing a good job and always get my stuff done no matter where I work.
All good, yet I would continue to encourage asking for input from others and making adjustments as needed.
Action: Redesign your job to work from home—or Hawaii.
Takeaway: When you get approval to telecommute and you want to secure the arrangement for the long-term, be sure to do the evaluation steps during the trial period (typically, 3 to 6 months).
*Name and cities changed to protect privacy.
The Fastest Way to Get Flexible Work Approved
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