You’ve recently negotiated a nice working from home situation with your boss and it feels great. The laptop’s fired up, the tea is brewed and radio is playing peacefully in the background. Bliss. But what if you get stuck on something and need to talk to a colleague, or even call in a favour?
The first thing to remember, is that you should always stay in the habit of keeping in regular contact to maintain a presence at work - just because you’re mainly working at home, it doesn’t mean that you’re not still part of the team.
With this in mind, here are a few measures you can take to stay connected with people while working away from the office…
Make it Part of Your Daily Routine
Much like running a morning system report or grabbing an 11am coffee, make time in the day to touch base with people in the office who are important to your job role. Even if there’s not much to report, or no assistance required, drop a couple of emails or make a few calls to let them know that you’re there if they need you and it will be reciprocated by them when you need a helping hand.
Use the Technology
From Skype and FaceTime to online MSN messenger services and conference calling, there are plenty of tools available which make it a piece of cake to keep in touch with people remotely - so use them.
If you’d like to see a friendly face or need to talk slightly more extensively about a project related matter with one or more of your colleagues, send them a meeting request via Outlook (or whatever you generally use) outlining the relevant details and medium in which you’d like to use to communicate. When the time rolls around, you’ll be able to connect in an instant, catch up and get the job done together.
Make an Effort to Come into the Office
Even if you live far away, I feel when working remotely for a company, it is important to show your face once in a while, even if it is once a month or so. This will give you the chance to physically present any work, have a little face-to-face banter with your work mates and most importantly, show that you’re a team player - a very important attribute in any job role.
While you’re there, you may even want to ask a few of your colleagues to lunch or for a couple of after work drinks, a great way to maintain a solid rapport.
Make a Few Templates
As already mentioned, it is imperative to keep in regular contact with your co-workers on a regular basis, but even when you’ve penciled in a call or Skype meeting, you may need to maintain an additional level of contact.
By writing a few email templates such as generic requests, general answers to queries or even to say that you’ll ‘look into the matter and get in touch within a few hours’, you’ll be able to keep in touch with your colleagues even when you’re busy and show that you value them.
This might sound totally irrelevant to the subject, but especially when working from home the point is this: you need to make a real effort to maintain a positive working relationship with people because if things go sour, you won’t be there to pick up the pieces and this could have a negative effect on your credibility.
So, when you do make contact keep a friendly, upbeat tone and don’t forget, if someone has done a great job or helped you out massively, it doesn’t take much time to send a well done email to them. By doing this and making sure you’re a positive presence, you it will essentially make it a lot easier to stay in touch with your co-workers.
When you’re isolated from others, it can be difficult to stay connected and in the proverbial loop. But just remember, by prioritising time to get in touch with colleagues, it won’t be as difficult as you think and that half an hour or so out of your day will go an incredibly long way. So if you’re sitting at home working away now, why not save what you’re doing and pick up the phone? You never know how much good it could do to your career.