With some big name companies cancelling work at home and telecommuting programs, it’s easy to wonder who’s next. It’s also a good reminder that no matter how secure your position is, it’s a good idea to show your employer that you are a great employee, even if you never show up at the office. Here are some tips to help you do your best while working at home.
1. Evaluate Your Work
Don’t wait for formal evaluations from your employer. Take a good look at what you’re getting done and compare that to what’s expected of you. Are you meeting or exceeding expectations? Be honest with yourself and maybe even a little strict. Doing just enough isn’t enough to impress most employers.
Perhaps most important is that you find and recognize the parts that aren’t working for you. If there’s a problem, you’re better off taking the initiative and finding a way to fix the problem. Most home based employees will run into problems some of the time.
2. Can Your Employer See the Results?
Can your employer tell how hard you’re working? You want to be sure they can.
This is easy in some jobs. Most customer service work at home jobs, for example, are good at tracking their employees. So much of the work involves scripts and entering information into the computer, it’s pretty easy to see who’s performing well and who is slacking off. Not to mention companies that record calls for later reviews.
Other jobs, it’s not so easy. Make sure you communicate enough with your manager that your accomplishments are noticed.
3. How Are Your Work Hours Recorded?
One of the complaints Marissa Mayer had about Yahoo’s work at home employees was that her review showed they weren’t working enough hours. Make sure the hours you work show.
Once again, this is easy with some jobs. If you have to log in to work, and you get paid on production, talk time or some other measure, odds are your employer knows if you’re working as much as they expect. If you’re on salary or not logged in all the time while you work, it may be more difficult to show that you are working the hours you’re supposed to. Report your hours worked in whatever way suits your employer. If they don’t track your hours, make sure your productivity shows other ways.
This is especially important if you aren’t an exempt employee. Your employer needs to know how many hours you’re working in order to comply with labor laws. Make sure your hours are tracked!
4. Communicate With Your Employer
Despite the many ways you can communicate with your employer, it’s easy to forget to do so. Your employer needs to know about your progress, questions and problems.
5. Stick to Your Schedule
Sure, working at home can be really flexible, but you should be careful about taking too much advantage of that. If you commit to a schedule, take that commitment just as seriously as you would if you had to drive into work. If you need to work odd hours or make a change to your scheduled hours, let your employer know.
6. Handle Problems With Technology
Computers are fussy beasts, and you will have problems with them sometimes when you ought to be working. If you’re working from home, you shouldn’t have to call your employer to help with every minor problem.
This includes protection from viruses and malware for your computer. Pick a good antivirus software and keep it updated. For other problems, the internet is a wonderful resource which can help you solve many problems.
You should also consider how work information on your computer is backed up. How you handle this will depend on your employer. Best is to have all information in your employer’s system, not just stored on yours, if you have control of this at all. If you’re handling customer credit card numbers, for example, I would expect that all data simply goes to your employer, and that it wouldn’t be stored on your system. Other types of work might require that you save work files, and you should look at options to ensure that a hardware failure doesn’t wipe out all the information you need.
Sometimes problems will take more than a few minutes, and that’s when you need to contact your employer. Maybe your internet connection is completely down, and your provider says it will take a few hours. Maybe your phone line is out. I had that problem back when I was about to start work as a medical transcriptionist and the phone company cut off my service because they thought it was a fraudulent account. Funny in retrospect, but annoying at the time. My employer had to admit that it was the first time an employee had called to say they couldn’t work for that particular reason.
All that said, there are times when calling your employer’s IT department is exactly the right move. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if it’s necessary.