Human Resources

Telework and Telecommuting Series – Pt.2

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Often we see managers as nothing but a nuisance. Then when we try to manage ourselves, we quickly realize that things can go off the rails if we aren’t disciplined enough. Let’s look into how to handle this situation a bit more. Read on…


Part Two: Self-Management

While self-management can mean different things in different fields, for teleworkers it means being able to manage your job duties and responsibilities on your own, with very little supervision from management. This requires a lot of self-discipline and a sense of self-awareness as to what the employee is capable of and accomplishing it. Remember that while many things can be managed by the teleworker, nothing replaces the manager’s role in their professional development.

Solving Problems on Your Own

Teleworkers often face many obstacles and problems when working in an office away from the central location. Since they are not always in reach of management, these workers will have to learn how to solve many problems on their own. For minor problems, such as computer malfunctions or even an unhappy customer, you should be prepared to solve the problem and possibly prevent it from happening again. The key is to make sure that you have the resources needed to solve problems can and will arise. Lay out action plans with your teammates regarding what to do when a problem arises. Determine how much they should handle on their own and at what point they need to reach out for help.

Questions for solving problems:

  • “What has happened?”
  • “What would it take to resolve this?”
  • “Can I do this on my own – or do I need help?”
  • “What is the next step I should take?”

Being and Staying Motivated

Motivation is one of the key aspects of being successful at work, especially on a virtual team. It has been shown that employees who are motivated in their work are happier, more enthusiastic, and more productive. If you are not motivated in your work, you will not be able to function in your home office, much less with the rest of the group. Sometimes at the beginning of an assignment, you can feel highly motivated, but that motivation can wane if you do not take action. Review what has happened so far and realize how far you’ve come and how far you need to go. While periods of low motivation can happen now and again, it is important to make sure it is only temporary and do not sink into a permanent situation.

Keys for staying motivated:

  • Establish your goals
  • Create a plan of action to achieve these goals
  • Feel good about your achievements and build on them
  • Review any mistakes made and learn from them

You Have More Freedom – Don’t Abuse It

Any truthful employee will tell you that when management is not present, they will be more lenient in their current assignments or duties – similar to “when the cat’s away, the mice will play”. But teleworkers will not always have a member of management around them, so they must avoid that feeling of wanting to play and should remain focused on their work.  Whether a manager is present or not, assignments will still be due and the employee will still be subject to reviews and evaluations. Company supplies still belong to the company, so the employee should not be using them for personal use, such as making personal calls or printing flyers with the company copier. You should be able to manage your time and activities in the same manner as you would in any other office and not abuse the new freedom you’ve been given.

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You and Only You are Accountable

Working from home can seem like a leisurely job with few problems, but that is not always the case. You are working as an individual entity (when not working as a team player) and are held accountable for your work, or lack thereof. You cannot fade into a sea of faces or cannot pass the blame to a member of management when a mistake is made. Do not allow outside distractions or problems to hinder what you do inside the office. You are the only one that can be held accountable for the actions you take and what you do in the office. Because of this, you should focus on all duties, job performance, and ensure that you keep a ‘clean nose’ at all times.

Practical Illustration

Kathy is a teleworker that works at home several miles away from the office. She’s had her fair share of problems in her home office that she had to know how to handle, such as the time her phone line went down or the time her computer froze all her files. Kathy knew things like that would be part of working at home. She admitted to her manager that she was having trouble staying motivated and asked for some advice and guidance. She realized she was spending too much time doing non-work related tasks and needed to make better use of her time. After speaking with her manager, Kathy made herself a daily schedule to stick with and better manage her activities.

“Now I know I’ll stay on track!” she told herself.


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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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