Thursday, December 2, 2010

Telecommuting: Best for the Chatty? posted an article today with the results of a funded by Cisco Systems by the psychological consulting firm Pearn Kandola on personality types and the success of telecommuting. Turns out, telecommuting is not for the shy or disorganized. Instead, the most successful telecommuters are chatty and extroverted as they feel connected to coworkers using digital means.

I can relate. I don't think anyone's every called be introverted and I think I'm fairly organized, but I too felt the isolation of the home office. Although I'd always done some work from home in a large corporate environment, my first two years with Momentum Resources were from a home office. While successful, I still felt somewhat isolated in my creative thinking.

Here's how I've learned to combat the telecommuting silo:
  • Get out of the house! I leased an inexpensive interim office in my neighborhood and am now working in an affordable co-working space called Connect113. I still do a significant amount of work from my home office, but as I type this 2 of my 3 boys are talking at me before 6:30am at home and I can't wait to be among the creative thinkers over the age of majority in my office.
  • Leverage technology. I use both Google Chat and Skype (both IM and video) to stay connected to my business partners, employees who work remotely and contractors. Sometimes it's just to check in, sometimes it's meaningful collaboration. Video communication allows me to feel much closer to my colleagues spread out across the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • Join a Group. Every industry had a professional association with local chapters that hold lunches and networking events. Even if you don't have a business development role, get out there and network. One of the most supportive groups I've become involved with is The Enterprising Moms, a group of women who are raising families and growing businesses.
  • Set boundaries. The biggest downside to telecommuting is that you're never "off." Why do you think so many employers encourage it now? They know you'll log many more productive hours than in the office! Set your business hours, teach your family the home office rules. In my house, if I'm on a call and the office door is locked someone had better be bleeding if there's an interruption.
That said, leave a small window for exception. One of my 8 year olds just came in to my home office before 7am, a big no no, and said, "Mom, come watch the sun rise with me!" I certainly wouldn't have that moment if I were already on the beltway to Tysons Corner.

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