As a successful telecommuter, you need to make sure you remain visible and vital to your employer.
The economy continues to get better, but let’s face it — it’s still far from perfect. Companies continue to look for ways to maximize income and minimize “outgo.” If you are a telecommuter, you may be at special risk.
Why? Because employers are made up of humans. Humans tend to take the easy way out. And the easy way out is to lay off someone you see only rarely, rather than someone you see every day and who’s become an integral part of your work life. “Out of sight, out of mind” is an annoying cliche, but it’s true.
Which is why you, as a successful telecommuter, need to make sure you remain in sight. Here’s how:
Instantly respond to emails, texts and phone calls. Always be available during the hours that your company considers “working hours.” This is why smartphones were invented.
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Never miss an on-site staff meeting. Always come looking spiffy and professional.
If on-site staff meetings are few and far between, you may need to get creative. Join your team members for lunch, or schedule an after-work happy hour. And if you are in a different city, video chatting is your friend.
Be a presence during conference calls. Speak up often, with energy in your voice. It can help to stand up. Make sure there are no dogs barking, babies crying or vacuum cleaners cleaning in the background. If you have to, invest in a noise-canceling headset with a mute button.
Send your boss regular (even daily) summaries of your work. Check in frequently with co-workers.
Volunteer for difficult assignments. What better way to demonstrate you’re indispensable?
Finally, and most important, never give the impression that your life is easier or more fun because you telecommute (even if it is). If you work in jammies and bunny slippers, keep it to yourself. However, consider showering and dressing as If you’re going into an actual workplace. Because you are.
Telecommuting has many advantages. It saves time, gas and wardrobe expenses. And you may know in your very soul that telecommuting has made you a happier, more productive — and hence more valuable — employee. All you need to do is make sure your boss knows this, too.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.