This is the final installment in a 3-part interview with Jen Haley, who is a Software Engineer with Hewlett Packard. Jen telecommutes from her home in Bozeman, and below she shares some of her thoughts toward remote workflow and how to find success in a telecommute role:
JM: What successes have you had while telecommuting?
JH: I have found a great work/life balance. My life feels less rushed (needing to be somewhere) and more structured and efficient. I feel like I have more flexibility from both a professional and personal perspective. If I need to put in more hours, or I need to support a late night effort, it’s simple to do this from home. And, vice versa. When taking a break from work, instead of walking to a break room, I can do a quick hit task at home, if needed
From a completely professional experience, since I’ve worked from home, my performance ratings each year have consistently been at the “Solidly Exceeds Expectations” level. I consider this one of the best successes.
JM: Do you see telecommuting as a solid ongoing work opportunity for others like you and also for those that have a different career track?
JH: I do. I don’t know that all professions or even all tasks within a profession are a 100% compatible with telecommuting. But if the way one works fits, the majority of the time, it’s a very good option. For those situations that don’t fit, a person must be willing to travel to the office to accommodate those needs.
JM: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone considering becoming a telecommuter?
JH: I would say,
Know what your skills and strengths are and learn how to tactfully ‘toot your own horn.’ You have to be able to sell yourself. You CAN do this work, you have done it before, lots of times, successfully. When seeking this type of work, you need to convince them and you can only do this if you are convinced yourself.
Know you resources. What is available to you to do your job well. The best resources are people. Build relationships, know what your teammates do, help them understand what you do and know, and build a network.
Focus, Commit, Never under-perform and at the end of the day, close the office door. It’s very easy to walk into your home office every time you go by it (I’ll just check my email). You’ve already done your days work, this is YOUR time to spend as YOU wish.
JM: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to companies thinking about implementing a remote work option for their employees?
JH: That’s an easy one:
Set clear expectations. How will you operate? Do you expect your folks to be at their desk at the same hours if you were all in an office (8-5)? Do you have core hours that you need everyone to overlap (collaboration is faster, meetings, etc. 9-4)? Are their hours flexible, if so how (i.e. work 4/10s, can work early shifts/late shifts)?
How will you measure productivity/workload. Project Managers are very important. Project planning and tracking is very important. Teleworkers have to participate in their workload (is it too much, too little, just right), so these lines of communications need to be open.
Have a mandatory online messaging tool; one where you can easily talk to your team/teammates. This gives a sense of ‘all hands on deck’ when you can see your team ‘online’ (It shouldn’t feel like a way to ‘watch’ them, it’s a tool to promote a ‘team’). This give each person instant access to anyone on the team, right up to the boss, allowing for questions to be quickly answered.
Formalize status reporting. There needs to be an easy way to keep in touch with team members. This can be done with a weekly status report, weekly team meeting and 1:1’s monthly or quarterly. Don’t make these meetings all business. Take time in group meetings and 1:1s to do ice breakers to learn about each other and foster relationships. And from this, use it to reward those who are performing well, and for those who are not, use it to highlight development needs and expectations.
JM: What is your favorite “telework perk?”
JH: Picking a favorite is hard because there are so many. Overall, my favorite aspect is the productivity that it provides to both my job and my home life. I can mow my lawn over my lunch hour, for example, but most lunch times I don’t need an hour to eat my lunch, so I am back to work in 15-20 minutes. The productivity goes both ways.
JM: Lastly, tell me why you love living and working in Montana.
JH: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Thanks so much to Jen for sharing her story! She is an inspiration and I hope that everything she shared helped encourage you to either take the leap into a telecommute position or to press even deeper in embracing your role as a remote worker. Check our part 1 to this interview series here and part 2 here.
Do you want to have WhyTelecom updates and industry information sent your way? Sign up for our email newsletter. We promise never to spam you, and we will never send you more than 2-3 email updates per week. Thanks for joining the telecommuting revolution!