The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” can be all too true when people are working from home.
Q: I have become very disillusioned with my telecommuting job. I accepted this position about a year ago because I liked the idea of working from home. However, I now have so many assignments that I can barely keep up. I was recently given a huge project which has me working until midnight almost every day.
My manager is located at corporate headquarters, which is in another state. I have emailed her about my workload, but I don’t think she understands. On top of that, she doesn’t provide any feedback. Although my projects have all been successful, I never receive any compliments, like “good job” or “thanks for your hard work.”
Despite the convenience of having my office at home, I’m about ready to quit. Do you have any advice?
A: Unfortunately, the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” can be all too true when people are working remotely. Without ongoing observation and dialogue, managers often have no clue about what their off-site employees are actually doing. As a result, they may continue delegating assignments without understanding the cumulative effect.
When management fails to establish regular communication, remote employees must take the initiative. For example, the “huge project” that was dumped in your lap clearly requires an expectation-setting conversation with your boss. You should discuss deliverables and deadlines, and then explain what you need in terms of time and resources.
Because overuse of email is a teleworking pitfall, important discussions should always be verbal. While email is fine for routine exchanges, attempting to address complex issues in writing inevitably leads to mistakes and misunderstandings. Picking up the phone will save time in the long run.
Going forward, arrange a schedule of regular meetings with your boss to review assignments, establish priorities, and receive feedback. If you occasionally ask how you’re doing, she will probably provide a few pats on the back.
Q: One of my coworkers has been going around our manager and recommending changes to our new vice president. “Casey” schedules private meetings with the VP and sends him emails without copying our boss.
She has been visiting other offices to observe their procedures and reporting her findings directly to him.
Casey recently told me in confidence that she will soon be reporting to the VP. She seemed to be implying that she is going to replace our manager. I have considered telling our boss about Casey’s deceitful behavior, but I’m not sure he would believe me. What do you think?
A: Before informing on your devious coworker, you might want to view these events from a slightly different perspective. New executives often choose to make changes in policies, procedures and staff. So instead of assuming that Casey is plotting a coup, consider the possibility that the vice president may have initiated these activities himself.
If Casey’s gossip is correct, your best move is to avoid becoming involved in this political skirmish. Blabbing to your boss could easily damage your own career, especially if Casey eventually becomes his replacement. So focus on your work, keep this damaging rumor to yourself, and wait to see what happens.