FREELANCING / APR. 11, 2014
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How to Stay in the Loop While You're Working from Home

One of the few drawbacks to working from home is the “out of sight, out of mind” factor. Since you’re not there in the mix every day, people may forget that you’re just as much a part of the team as you were before. Plus, if you’re a social butterfly, you run the risk of feeling isolated. On the other hand, if you’re an introvert like I am – happy to go the whole day without any chitchat – staying in touch can take a monumental effort. Take a look at these tips on how to be productive at home while still maintaining good relationships with your colleagues.

Be proactive.

The primary responsibility for keeping in touch is on you. For one thing, “out of sight, out of mind” really does have a lot of truth to it. Plus, your colleagues might not feel comfortable “bothering” you at home. You want to nip that perception in the bud.

  • Give your colleagues your contact information and make it clear that you’re just as available as if you were in the office.
  • Check in by phone at least once a day, just to catch up on what’s going on.
  • Ask if you can be patched into meetings via Skype.
  • Don’t make all of your communication about work. When you’re working from home, it’s more important than ever to stay in the loop socially. Your colleagues may feel a little rejected, so make sure you let them know you still want to be part of the team.

Don’t complain.

Don’t grumble about the challenges of working from home. Most of your colleagues would change places with you in a heartbeat.

Be flexible.

There will probably be times when you need to go to the office. You might need to attend an important meeting, or maybe pitch in during crunch time. When those circumstances arise, don’t act put out or inconvenienced. Show up when you’re needed and act like you’re happy to be there.

Be social.

If you know your team heads out for drinks after work on Tuesdays, make sure you show up once in a while. Or meet them for lunch somewhere near the office. And keep track of birthdays and anniversaries so you can show up for cake and coffee.

Make the most of technology.

From communication to collaboration, technology makes it easier than ever to work from home. Check out these options:

  • Skype: Use Skype to participate in meetings, both scheduled and spontaneous. Let your colleagues know you want to participate in off-the-cuff brainstorming sessions, and make sure they all have your Skype contact information.
  • Basecamp: Basecamp is one of the leading collaboration platforms. It’s cloud-based, so it doesn’t require any special software or equipment. Once invited, team members have access to their own personal pages as well as all team pages. One of the best features of Basecamp is that everybody can see what everybody else is doing, so it drastically reduces the chance of somebody missing out on important information. You can use it for to-do lists and to get feedback on important steps in your project. You can also use the internal messaging system instead of email so that everybody will know what’s going on. It’s a great way to organize team projects.
  • Teamwork: Teamwork competes with Basecamp, and you’ll find die-hard fans of each. The pricing is about the same ($50 median), but Teamwork has a few features that Basecamp doesn’t. It has a native time-tracking feature, which is important if you bill hourly. It also lets you set up dependent tasks, meaning that the second doesn’t show up until the first is completed. There are also some neat reporting features.

Whatever your reasons for working at home, you still want to be part of the team. And most of the responsibility for that is going to fall on you, for the simple reason that it takes a lot more effort for your colleagues to include you when you’re not there every day. These tips will help you keep up with what’s going on in the office while you’re being productive at home.

Photo credit: freeimages via dking

 

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