In a couple of months, I will be going from auto commuting to telecommuting. Once I move to Mississippi, I will be doing my consulting job from a home office that I will need to set up to run independently of my firm’s home office in the Washington, DC area. Establishing a remote work environment outside of our headquarters is a big step that will require a lot of preparation from both a professional and logistical standpoint.
The professional work that goes into transitioning from commuting to telecommuting is ongoing and includes relationship-building and strengthening, establishment and clarification of objectives and goals, and the demonstration of value and enhanced performance.
I will discuss some of the logistical work that goes into transitioning to a home office at the time that I am setting up my home office. I think the discussion on logistics should be captured at the time that I am implementing them.
The Professional Work
During a recent summit at my firm, the subject of billable hours was raised and a discussion ensued about ways to attract more business, including upselling services existing clients. For me, this discussion is timely. Once I move to a home office, away from the main office, it will be more important than ever to maintain a continuous workload, while being less reliant on the home office resources.
At the same time, there is still other work that I will do to preserve the existing relationship with my employer. If you will be transitioning to a home office at sometime in the future, I would recommend considering the following.
Building and Strengthening Relationships
Prior to transitioning to a home office, it should be a priority to build and strengthen professional relationships, as well as relationships with clients. You may already be doing this, but this will become even more important when you are no longer in the office.
Consider the colleagues that you are currently working with on a routine basis. Inform them of your impending transition and provide a plan of action. How do you intend to communicate with them? How often? How will you utilize them and their areas of expertise to support yourself in business from your remote location?
Will you need additional administrative support to assist with tasks that you will no longer be able to achieve because you are not in the office. These tasks might include large print jobs, or research utilizing resources only available at your office.
Inform support staff that you will rely on them for such items. It is better to let them know before you leave. Sometimes in large offices, we take for granted the support we receive from administrative staff. It will be important to establish a rapport with such staff in person prior leaving since, after relocating, you are likely to only be dealing with them by email or phone.
If you will manage client accounts, it is important to strengthen your existing relationships with clients. Let your clients know of your impending transition. You may want to reassure your clients that your relationship will not change.
If you be able to offer additional value to your clients because of your transition, let them know this as well. Perhaps you will be in a better position to do client visits or will be able to be more flexible with time, be sure to communicate these things beforehand.
Establishment and Clarification of Objectives and Goals
What are the objectives and goals set out for you in your position now? Get clarification on objectives that are not clear or that have not been articulated. It is easier to have a clear understanding of your employer’s expectation. This should be used as your minimum basis for accomplishment.
What are your personal business goals? On top of your existing objectives, what other things do you intend to accomplish above the minimum?
I would suggest writing down all objectives and goals. Sometimes having such items in list form in a visible location will help you to implement and achieve the items on the list.
Your goals should also incorporate an agenda to promote the building and strengthening of relationships and the demonstration of value to your employer.
Demonstrating Value: Maintain Your Presence/Flaunt Your Relevance
Once you transition to a remote office, you must aim to avoid an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality setting in as far as you are concerned. To maintain your presence with your employer, you may have to flaunt your relevance in a number of areas.
How will you stay fresh in the minds of those that matter in your office? You must demonstrate the value to your employer in keeping you around as an employee, even remotely.
Think about the things that you are already bringing to the table. You may be a prominent rainmaker, able to attract new business or provide valuable contacts, or you may be a team leader or have specialized skills making you an important asset to your employer. Whatever it is that you are bringing to the table, it will be very important to maintain the value in these things while offering additional things on top of these such that you are offering increasing value over a period of time.
If you were making a transition from commuting to telecommuting, what kind of preparations would you make?
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