Out of Office

Archive for the ‘Cooperate With Them’ Category

4 Steps To Set After-Hours Work Expectations

Most of our book is about Out of Office work styles for workers, but much of this work style depends on how their managers treat them. If you’re managing Out of Office workers, one of the most important things to do is help them understand your needs and expectations regarding time. Now that work doesn’t stop when the office door closes at 5pm, it’s important to set boundaries that suit you and your team.

An article in Fast Company magazine recommends these four steps to set your expectations for your team members:

  • Recognize that you have to initiate the conversation with your direct reports.
  • Decide what you really expect in terms of response and connection.
  • Have a meeting, state the parameters clearly, and then be consistent.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and encourage ongoing clarification.

Read the full article here.

Time Blocking: Do Not Disturb

As an Out of Office worker, one of your primary ways of connecting with others is through (on-line) meetings. To make it convenient for others to schedule meetings with you, you can share your calendar with them. This lets them know when you’re available. It should also inform them of when you’re unavailable. The latter isn’t just the time you’re in other appointments, it’s also the time you don’t want to be disturbed.

If you attend a lot of meetings then make sure you set aside time to get work done. This is called Time Blocking, and involves marking time in your calendar when you’re busy with work and so unavailable for appointments with others. Time Management Ninja, Chris Jarrow offers three tips about time blocking:

  • Block time for personal tasks too
  • Use only one calendar so all your obligations are in one place (and easily shared)
  • Be ruthless! Chris regularly blocks 60% – 70% of his time

If meetings are killing your productivity then open your calendar and start Time Blocking.

Online Meetings Etiquette Guide

Online meetings are important for many Out of Office workers, but most people don’t know how to behave in them – neither efficiently nor effectively. In this episode, we give you 10 guidelines for online meeting etiquette, so you make the most of your next online meeting.

Listen to the episode here:

Download the MP3 file here

Buy the book here (available at a reduced price for a limited time).

Here are the ten guidelines:

  1. Find a quiet environment with good call quality.
  2. Be on time.
  3. Stay silent while waiting for the call to start.
  4. Identify yourself and address people by name.
  5. Be polite.
  6. Use mute when not speaking.
  7. Avoid distractions.
  8. Avoid multi-tasking.
  9. Stay on track and ensure private matters are solved outside the call.
  10. Respect people’s valuable time.

Reference: This list is from Gihan’s book Best Practice Conference Calls. The main credit for this list goes to Gihan’s co-author Brandon Munro, who initially created this list. We also have this list available as a free one-page download from the Web site, so you can distribute it to colleagues and clients as well.

Companies Embrace Telecommuting as a Retention Tool

Telecommuting is good for employees, which translates into benefits for employers as well – the chief being lower turnover and greater retention.

A number of reports and surveys show the rapid growth in telecommuting, and the subsequent benefits to organisations. Of course, from the employee’s viewpoint, the increased flexibility is a key benefit, and many would sacrifice some of their salary in exchange for this flexibility.

Some organisations that allow telecommuting don’t save money this way, because they have paid for offices and other infrastructure anyway. And in some cases, it increases their costs because they now have to provide collaboration software, offer better Internet access and improve their security measures. But the returns in terms of employee satisfaction, productivity and retention often make up for these costs.

How to embrace remote meetings

In the chapter about cooperating with your work colleagues, we discussed the importance of running effective on-line meetings. Gary Swart has some additional tips in his post “How to embrace remote meetings”.

The key to remote meetings is to take charge, especially if you’re the Out of Office worker and everybody else is in the office. People in an office spend a lot of time in meetings, and often don’t treat them seriously. You, on the other hand, should treat them as a scheduled part of your day, so make sure they start on time, end on time and achieve clear objectives. Your colleagues won’t necessarily be thinking this way, so it’s up to you to take charge.

Telecommuters are More Ethical Than Office Bound Employees

Here’s some research that might raise some hackles among your office-bound colleagues: A study by the Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle suggests telecommuters are less likely to have ethical violations than office-bound colleagues.

On the one hand, telecommuting seems to offer more opportunities for unethical behaviour, because you’re away from the watchful eyes of managers and peers. But on the other hand, this forces you to be responsible for your actions, so perhaps you’re less likely to do the wrong thing – or more likely to do the right thing.

Another factor is that telecommuters are judged on their results, so even if they do “goof off” when they should be working, it’s the results that matter. On the other hand, office-based employees who are judged by time spent at the office rather than results can easily waste that time – sometimes doing things they don’t want to be caught doing.

The Real Reason Telecommuters Are Happier

In the book, we’ve talked about the three big benefits of an Out of Office work style: convenience, comfort and freedom. However, that’s not all, and might not even be the biggest benefit, according to a recent study of telecommuting workers. That study suggests the biggest benefit of telecommuting is … avoiding pesky colleagues!

This isn’t just about “bad” people, although most offices have their fair share of them. Colleagues aren’t necessarily pesky by nature; it’s just that they tend to interrupt, gossip, involve you in office politics, and waste time in meetings. All of these things can increase stress and frustration in your work environment.

Read the CBS News report about this study here.

You are currently browsing the archives for the Cooperate With Them category.