How ‘Work from Home’ can work against you!

Collaboration is the buzz word these days and with the advent of tools allowing it, world has become smaller. People now do not have to be co-located to work together. Everything is getting virtual.

Organizations are now doing everything to cut costs and allowing work-force to work from home (WFH) is a brilliant phenomenon. Although some studies suggest that working from may translate into longer hours but if done effectively, it allows employees to be more productive and less stressed. As in my case 🙂

Work from Home Khalid Raza #SocialGlamorEmployees do the same job but do not need to come to work. Teams are now globally distributed but work seamlessly. Organizations are saving costs and people are become productive.

IBM allows several categories of employees to work from home. For many others, it’s flexible, with managers taking the call. “Work /life balance touches morale, productivity and retention. Current lifestyles have resulted in higher stress levels and we take a positive view towards creating a conducive environment to help people integrate work and life,” says Chandrasekhar Sripada, head HR, IBM India.

World is Awesome! But wait a minute – is everything really awesome?

According to BusinessWeek, a recent survey concluded that 50 percent of the workers said their bosses are reluctant to have their employees work from home. How can someone possible to focus on work with this plethora of distractions? Is it even possible to work efficiently?

Apparently, it is. A study by Stanford University found that workers are actually more productive when working from home. According to the study, people had higher work satisfaction when working from home, and their performance increased over 12 percent during a nine month experiment. Source

With this new freedom, comes a new set of responsibilities, which can make or break your impression and career too. Employees, who work from home, need to be extra careful about perception-management now than ever before. When people do not see you at work every day, they form their opinions based on nothing and that can be detrimental. Sometimes it is perceived that employees, who work from home, do not work at all, which is rubbish. In my last role, I faced a similar challenge and there was no way at the end of the year for me to change the impression my manager had. It resulted in a not-so-good appraisal for me.

So what can you do to ensure, WFH, doesn’t work against you? I am listing few steps/actions which every WFH employee should consider:

  1. Use your instant messenger wisely: When your manager and team need to contact you, they will use IM to connect with you. Your delayed response will tell people that you have logged in but may be out somewhere. Put ‘away’ when not in front of the system and ‘available’ when you are. Incorrect status message will allow people to form opinions. Do respond to IM as soon as possible. Remember, IM is the first contact point for virtual teams and you do not want people to ping you and wait forever.Work from Home Khalid Raza #SocialGlamor 1
  2. Be available on phone: Ensure your manager and team knows your work time schedules and your availability. Your phone should be in your reach at all times. There is nothing more irritating that not able to reach a WFH employee. If you see a missed call, respond actively. Remember, your salary comes from your work no matter where you work from. By not answering calls, you letting people know that you were not near your home-office and may be watching a cricket match on TV.
  3. Respond to emails, in time: As a WFH employee, your response time to emails should not go awry. If it was a conventional (co-located office) set up, people would see you and comfort that the response is on its way. But when they do not see you, they need to get answers quickly. And who likes unread emails in their mailboxes, anyway. Late replies tell people that you are not looking at your inbox and may be busy on Facebook.
  4. Join meetings on time: Joining meeting late is a cardinal sin and more so for a WFH employee. You are sitting on your desk (at home) so there is no way you should be late. Communicate if your last meeting is running over. Join late also shows that you are not managing your time well.
  5. Ensure you are visible: Have a nice, well-lit and professional photo on your profile and use the same for your LinkedIn (or any other professional account) account. Since people do not see you, they would love to have a face to associate with your name. Have your designation mentioned clearly. If you have a different functional reporting chain, mention that too.

All these points majorly focus on two key factors and those are ‘communication’ and ‘approachability’. If there is any lag in either or both, your image will get a beating. Also consider downloading this Best Practices for Working on the Go pdf from GotoMeetings.

I have been working from home for last 4 years now and I feel working from home makes me more productive and less frustrated. I have had best of performance ratings, which goes to show, performance has improved too. What about you? What are your thoughts on this?

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9 thoughts on “How ‘Work from Home’ can work against you!

  1. Ranvijay Kumar (@ranvijaykumar67) December 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm Reply

    I work at home too using a site called opinionvalue.in, and I agree with what you said. Working from home sometimes works against you because the atmosphere and everything in general is different from the atmosphere of an office. But on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to work at your own time and at your own home.

    Like

    • Khalid Raza January 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm Reply

      Yes Ranvijay, both a very different worlds and have their own pros and cons. Smart people excel in both environments and some people struggle to manage. I am glad you were not in that crowd who struggled. Could you share any incident which you cherish while working from home?

      Like

  2. Roma January 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm Reply

    Hi – I enjoyed reading your post. Managing perception while working from home (WFH) is not only from employer perspective but also personally. There is not enough understanding that people WFH are really working. So once this perception is put right at the start at home,it enables a bette working condition and therefore helps further the WFH perception for the employer as well.

    Like

    • Khalid Raza January 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm Reply

      Thank you Roma for taking out time to read and compliment the blog and also to share your thoughts along. I am glad you brought this point up regarding understand or lack of it around WFH. A lot of people I meet, still feel people who work WFH are actually not ‘fully’ working. That is a mind-set issue but at the same time one needs to ensure that perceptions are not formed, or say is corrected at an early stage. Unavailability of the employee who is WFH causes raised eye-brows.

      Like

  3. Michael February 4, 2013 at 1:17 am Reply

    in reading this blog in my opinion i think there is a upside and downside to working from home, the upside is that you get to spend more time at home with your family and enjoy doing more things together and it saves the commute to work which means less pollution into the world……Now the downside to this is that you do not get ti interact with other people which in due time not being able to interact could harm your social skills and cause issues for people down the line because then more people will not want to go out and enjoy activities because they will be consumed with always staying at home and working which also means they will become less social with their loved ones which could hurt families as well.

    But i will say overall that i do think it is an added benefit though and would balance out once things are really put to the test.

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  4. […] – thank you IBM (I miss going to office sometimes…..not always but sometimes. Also read how working from home can work against you). Going to office is fun and especially when you have a good crowd around you (now this is […]

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  6. Ulises Gascon June 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm Reply

    Hi Khalid! 🙂 I love this post, but I have to say that one of the keys when you work from home ..more than the effective communication is the working space. You need a very clear and functional space to work from home as you are going to do it for a very long hours. I will say that the positive thing when you are working from home is the option to focus without any distraction for long hours (great idea if you are a programmer). I love to work from home but from my point of view is very important to keep the professional attitude even if your colleges are not sharing the same environment 🙂

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  7. Flor Brouard April 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm Reply

    Working from home requires discipline, a strong sense of connection with the teams you work with, responsiveness and good time management. You have to be a self starter with very clear goals and a strong sense of accountability. I wouldn’t recommend it for a new hire fresh out of the university. One needs to form bonds with team and be strongly grounded to work from home. My biggest challenge is time management… I enjoy working from home because I can be very focused, collaborate with ease (thank you IT!), and the time I would have spent commuting is spent on productive work. The challenge comes in the form of allowing oneself to “finish just one more thing” and before we know it, it’s 10pm. However, loving one’s job and being driven also contributes to that! Need balance!
    I also agree that one must go to the office on a fairly regular basis. Re-connecting face-to-face does wonders.

    Like

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