I just had my ten year work anniversary…what?! Out of that decade, almost 7 of those years have been spent working from home. I go into the office occasionally, but not on any regular kind of basis. This arrangement works well for getting my job done, as well as doing what I need to for my family. When I do go in, I see the people I need to see, and my office friends that I don’t necessarily need to see but want to see. I also see a whole host of people that are completely new to me…and me to them! (You should see some of our stare-down-face-offs in the elevator; we’re on high alert here in the Nation’s Capital – “see something, say something”.) I’m a friendly sort and usually end up being the first to say hello and identify myself. I typically get one of two reactions: a blank stare and a “nice to meet you” or a wide-eyed “oooohhh…nice to meet you.” I’m not sure which is worse: not being known at all or being known by reputation. I’m not saying my reputation isn’t earned (love me or hate me, I think, are my two general camps), but it’s disturbing when it somehow follows you like a ghost. I mean, catch me in action before you make a judgment, people!
In that spirit, I’d like to offer a bit of advice for people working remotely. Face-to-face relationship building becomes more important than ever – whenever possible, show your face! Meet a colleague for coffee, go in and pick your boss’ brain for an hour, attend a non-mandatory meeting. And maybe a smidge of advice for you office folks working with colleagues who are outside the office? Try to involve your faceless co-workers in non-traditional ways – share a bit of office gossip in a virtual water-cooler situation or maybe try to meet them on their own turf for a post-work happy hour drink. I’ve had many opportunities to build a relationship with folks over the phone or email that was been strengthened with just one short, informal interaction (and there are some folks I would prefer to ONLY have a virtual relationship with!!). Whichever side of the equation you sit on, it’s important to put a face to a name, actions with a reputation, the personal with the virtual. To be fully satisfied with being a teleworker, it is important to become fully vested in both the status AND the people. I’m hoping this recipe allows me to embrace my semi-anonymity for the next ten years!