Almost one-fourth of all employees work from home at least part of the time, and that number is expected to keep growing as workforces grow more mobile. There's no longer a reason for every employee to sit in a cubicle 24 hours a day, since many workers can perform their duties from anywhere.
As businesses have chosen to limit the number of on-site employees, however, they've noticed a disconnect between management and workers. The workers, as a result, often feel isolated from the rest of the team. If some team members are in the office more often than others, telecommuters may begin to feel as though they're being passed over for career opportunities due to the “out of sight, out of mind” factor. Here are a few ways remote workers can keep themselves in the loop when they can't be in the office every day.
What happens if you stop by the office? Chances are, you're greeted with a warm welcome. If your business has an office in an area you frequently visit, find work-related reasons to stop by the office and do so whenever you're in the area. If a desk is set up for remote workers, take advantage of it. You'll not only have access to great Wi-Fi, printers, and free coffee, but you'll be able to make contact with everyone and let them see how hard you're working.
While it's no substitute for in-person conversation, videoconferencing is a great way to bridge the miles. It's far more powerful than a basic phone conversation because it allows you to see the other person's body language. Over time, regular video chats will allow you to build a rapport with your co-workers and supervisors so that when you do meet face to face, it will feel familiar.
Take the Boss to Lunch
If you work in an office, you're required to share your boss with multiple co-workers. Working from home gives you a distinct advantage because you can regularly request one-on-one lunches with your supervisors, fellow team members, and others in your office. If you work in the same town, make a point to regularly have lunch with someone from your company to discuss work-related issues. If you're out of town, try to make it to town sporadically.
If your remote work involves regularly interacting with clients, you may have an opportunity to advance in other ways. Your business's customers are its most important assets and remote workers can sometimes have better access to them than in-office staff. Sales team members, for instance, are out there on a daily basis, interacting with clients and leads. When they make a good impression on those clients, it can do far more than they could ever do in an office. One way to leverage these interactions is to regularly pass client feedback on to your supervisors.
Your career potential extends far beyond your current workplace. Think outside of your current situation and spend time networking within your industry. Attend conferences and trade shows to make the connections you need to help your own company. There are also likely networking groups in your own community that are geared toward helping professionals meet and work together. All of these opportunities will extend your network and potentially lead to exciting career opportunities.
Working from home is a great job perk, but it can also lead to a feeling of being disconnected. When remote workers make an effort to network and regularly connect with co-workers, though, they can position themselves for career advancement while also enjoying the many benefits of working from home.