Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Manage your Manager, What Recruiters Really Think

remote employee

@alarecruiter rockin’ the logo while working from home and being proactive about her career

Remote Employee

Last week, I posted on the topic of remote employees.  Specifically, I tried to provide insight to the remote employee that many employees forget so they can consider all of their options.  My goal was to provide the behind the scenes insight of working from home which can get lost in the excitement of becoming a  remote employee.    The punchline is that in many cases, when your manager doesn’t see you day in and day out, you can be forgotten as an employee and can lose out on potential opportunities that employees working within the office will be offered.  Yes, even less qualified employees than yourself!

I completely agree that there are many instances where being a remote employee is unavoidable.  I also agree that there are many remote employees who have attained a stage in your career where working from home is exactly what that employee is looking for.  My point in the last blog post was to provide the background that many remote employees lose site of as they pursue work in their underwear option.  There is a wrong and a right reason to be a remote employee and most don’t even consider the “wrong”.

I received a lot of responses on this blog post, and much of the feedback was from remote employees who have made working form home successful.   One of these responses was from a good friend, colleague, and BigHRSister to me personally Amy Ala.  She works in HR for a world class employer and does this as a remote employee.  (You should follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.  She has a ton of great career insight and being a recruiter knows how to maximize career opportunity.)  Her original post is here on RecruitingBlogs.com and I asked if she would elaborate on the content and then guest post for us.  I know that a career ladder is important to her and she won’t let the fact that she is a remote employee hold her back.  If you are a remote employee, follow her advice below.

Remote Employees, the other side of the coin via @AlaRecruiter as posted on RecruitingBlogs.com

Have you seen HR Nasty’s latest blog? My first thought was “oh no he DIDN’T!!” then I thought, ok – maybe he’s right. But I’m right too. I’ve been in a mostly remote position for about 3 weeks. I’ve worked from home in the past, and I’ve worked for companies and bosses clear on the other side of the country. I’ve also been in environments where not only were you expected to be in the office, you were expected to be there from 7 am to 5 pm at a minimum. (I’ll NEVER go back to light industrial staffing. EVER) Am I an expert on this stuff? Of course not, but who is? We all view these concepts through the filter of our own experience. Keep that in mind before you start dogging Marissa Mayer about recalling Yahoo! employees back to the office. For those drinking the Ms. Mayer haterade – if you’re so smart why didn’t Yahoo! hire YOU to come turn them around? I for one agree with her position. I can’t help but laugh at recruiters who get all excited about this; circling like sharks and salivating over all the great talent they’re going to steal from Yahoo!. You think the GOOD ONES are going to leave over this? Maybe a few… but a lot of the tech roles I source for work in the office or lab or whatever anyway. I’m willing to bet for every grumbly employee that’s pissed off about being forced into the office, there’s probably two more that are saying it’s about damn time. But I digress… Back to Mr. Nasty’s blog and my promised rebuttal.

Mr. Nasty makes a very valid point about career growth, visibility, and the risks run by those of us who choose to, as he puts it, set up “a 40 hour a week base camp in your spare room so you can work in your PJ’s”. (I have not yet worked in my PJs. I feel like I’m missing something terribly fun and an important work-at-home rite of passage). So rather than give you a regurgitated list of Five Very Critical Things To Do In Order To Be Productive, I’m going to tell you MY plan, and how neatly it refutes yet supports my good friend’s blog post.

  1. Be visible. Duh. High visibility projects don’t go to people who aren’t, well, seen. I go to the office at least once a week, but usually two out of five days. I’m on IM and email with my team members. I make sure I’m physically in the building for important stuff like baby showers and client meetings. I get the gossip. I spend valuable co-worker time not only talking about work, but getting to know them, asking about what matters to them personally. Part of that is just being new (I’m still learning – a lot) but it’s also just part of being a good work buddy.
  2. Volunteer. Special, and sometimes crappy projects will come up. If you have the bandwidth (meaning if you can DVR that 2 pm episode of Maury for watching on your own time) take on something “extra” that the people in charge will see and appreciate.
  3. Pay attention to the core hours. I’ll be honest – The days I come in the office, I roll in around 9:15. I live over an hour away in traffic and I take my kids to school every morning. This is an important daily ritual that I will not give up. I turned down an “in office” job because I knew I could no longer do this if I commuted daily to Seattle for a typical 8 am start. The “real work” in a lot of companies seems to take place between 9-4 – I make an effort to be there during that time. This also means being flexible. I would NEVER say to my clients “sorry I can’t make that meeting, I’m only in the office on Tuesdays and Fridays” or some ridiculous thing. I’ll change my schedule to accommodate them.
  4. Want to grow? Have a plan. Again, I’m on week three of my Microsoft career. I’m still learning where all my clients sit on campus (good gracious we have a lot of buildings). Some might say it’s too early for me to be scoping out a full time (yes, “in-office”) position, but that is my goal. I plan to be very clear with my team and my boss that my long term goals include Microsoft. My family will be house hunting in a new neighborhood this summer, which ideally will give me about a 15 minute commute to my employer of choice. I have a plan.

You don’t have to have an office with your name on the door to be a critical part of the team. I’ve seen “in-office” workers in previous companies lose out on opportunities to the virtual go-getter who had a mission and a plan. Working “in-office” has nothing on the hungry virtual kid ready to eat your lunch. Don’t wait for opportunity to stroll down your hallway – go after it, no matter where you sit.

Follow @alarecruiter

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • Oh man, how I want to telecommute. You know what, I even have the authority to give myself that option. However, being in management I need the velocity of being able to go up and directly make requests of people (and yes, pressure people to expedite tasks).

    My predecessor did not have a lot of visibility and we both knew that that’s an opportunity for us to make a difference. Therefore I don’t telecommute more than twice a month over the last 9 months.

    I sure wish I could do so for week long stretches though. Maybe when I stabilize operations (LOL when does that ever happen).

    • Thanks for commenting Michael! It’s definitely a double-edged sword. I think Nasty and I are mostly in agreement – not everyone CAN or SHOULD work from home, and those that do have to be on top of their game all the time. Visibility (even from the home office) is critical.

      • Michael, thanks for stopping by and I absolutely agree! I think telecommuting every once in awhile is totally OK. It is the candidate that wants to telecommute FULL time to avoid a commute can be missing out, but it CAN be done. So many people that work IN the office full time do not commit themselves to @alarecruiters list. You really need to be focused when working from home.