When Working From Home, Strive To Connect With Co-Workers

By Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service.

Question: Three years ago, after starting a family, I began working from home most of the time, spending only one day a week in the office. Although my manager approved this plan, he has never kept me informed about policy changes or other business developments. My co-workers communicate exclusively through texts and emails, so I never receive any phone calls.
Recently, my boss informed me that my performance is slipping. I have been reprimanded several times for making mistakes or missing deadlines. My manager used to be a supportive coach, but he now he just seems cold and critical. How can I improve when no one will communicate with me?

A: After being largely absent for three years, it’s no wonder you feel disconnected. Based on your comments, however, you appear to have been passively waiting for others to keep you involved and informed. To get back on track, you must begin to assume personal responsibility for getting what you need. As a first step, establish a regular schedule of meetings with your manager. During these discussions, you can request updates, clarify expectations, provide progress reports and request helpful coaching. In response to his recent criticisms, consider drafting an improvement plan with specific objectives.

To stay current with more informal happenings, develop the habit of inviting one or more co-workers to lunch on your office days. And if you need to converse with someone who avoids the phone, simply send an email to schedule a call.

Finally, if you plan to stay with this company, it may be time to increase your visibility. Show up for staff meetings, attend company functions, and add an extra office day from time to time. Although working from home provides wonderful benefits, the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” concisely sums up the risks.
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

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