“I wish I could work from home…”
According to a Wall Street Journal article, corporate workers are working more from home than they did before. Vice President at market-research company IDC, Raymond Boggs told the WSJ that “the number of corporate employees who work from home at least one day a month has been growing by an average of 23% a year since 2007. Those working from home only one or two days a month are leading the trend: This pool grew by nearly 70% each year.”
Thinking how great it would be to work from home, saving money on gas, not having to get dressed in business attire every morning, and being there when your kids get home from school. At my current and for a short time my previous company, I was able to work from home, and I readily took advantage of the opportunity.
But…, I have to say I am NOT a fan of working from home. In fact I will admit that when I worked in the corporate office and heard of someone who works from home or has an “alternative work arrangement”, my first thought was how much value could that person have if they are never in the office building working on building face-to-face relationships. “Out-of-sight, out-of-mind” is how I defined these Remote Workers.
It turns out, I might be right. A recent study by researchers at MIT-Sloan, called “Why Showing Your Face Matters”, authored by Kimberly Elsbach and Daniel Cable, shows that the lack of “Passive Face Time” negatively impacts the performance evaluations of virtual or remote employees. The premise is that managers do not even realize that they are negatively rating remote workers, but these perceptions have real impact on promotions, pay raises, layoffs, etc.
The perception stems from two (2) types of “Passive Face Time”. The first type is called “Expected Face Time”. Employees physically being in the office during normal working hours; interacting with their peers and managers.
The second type is called “Extracurricular Face Time”. This is when employees come in early, stay late, work weekends, and beyond normal business hours. According to the study, it turns out that your peers and managers DO notice that effort, and it impacts the overall perception of your work.
Make sure you attend all Company-Sponsored events, like cookouts and holiday parties so the employees can match your name with your face. Also I highly recommend putting your profile picture on all of your presentations and documents so those reading them can link your face to your work. This makes for a powerful connection in the organization.
Can a Social Business Platform can help alter these perceptions?
When I read this story, I had mixed emotions. Since I work from home full time now, I realized I am susceptible to these perceptions from my manager(s) that I do not work the long hours commensurate with my profession. Now, since I do Social Collaboration for a living, I already follow some basic tenets to ensure my peers and managers have positive “Passive Face Time” interactions with me.
Those of you who are Remote Workers, new to Social Collaboration, and your company has deployed a Social Business Platform, you have the opportunity to increase your “Passive Face Time” with others in the company. If your company does not have a Social Business Platform, you can still utilize some of the tips below, but it might be more difficult as the various tools and technologies won’t be centralized and linked together.
So here are some of my tips to make sure you Remote Workers remain visible and on the mind of your peers, manager(s), and company leadership:
Intranet & Key Personal
- Find out who the Corporate Communications personal are that are responsible for internal communications. “FOLLOW” them on the Social Software Platform.
- If Corporate Communications are not using the Social Business Platform, ask how you can receive as many email alerts and notifications as possible pertaining to internal communications. This way you stay aware and can comment on corporate news and events.
- Ask how your Blog posts can be prominently featured on the corporate Intranet.
- Suggest starting a featured Blog, Video Blog or Newsletter on the corporate Intranet so your thought-leadership can be seen by the masses.
- Make sure you put a current picture on your corporate profile.
- Fill out as much information on your profile; Projects, skills, interests, etc.
- Search out and “Follow” as many of the leadership in the company so in the event they post, you will be notified and can comment on their postings
Groups, Communities, Spaces, etc.
- Learn how to be a valuable Community Manager & Community Member.
- Use non-working time to learn these skills from sources on the Internet, and ask the Enterprise Community Manager and other Community Managers for resources on learning this key organizational skill.
- Create Communities and Groups that focus on important topics. Invite others to join from beyond your immediate peer group.
- Make sure your manager is either part of the community or knows of your efforts.
- Join other communities, being able to participate and provide value. Post frequently various stories, videos, and images that are important to the community or group members, soliciting discussions and conversations.
- Ask your manager how the role of Community Manager and organizational contributor can be part of your annual performance objectives.
- DOCUMENT all your efforts and provide Quarterly status reports to your manager.
Discussions, Posts, Walls, Videos, Q&A
- Post Questions on important topics, topics that impact the company, and solicit large numbers of peers to answer and comment.
- Do NOT settle for 1 or 2 reply answers. Keep pushing for more participation, even if you have to ask for additional verification of answers to questions posted by your peers.
- Once the thread has some good content, share the thread and email your manager(s), inserting the link to the discussion. Ask for additional POV, advice and opinions on the topic and thread.
- Author and contribute in as many business-centric discussion threads as possible.
- Engage with other managers as well as your peers in order to build a reputation as someone who has knowledge on multiple topics.
- Post answers and comments often, making sure to share your POV with as many peers as possible.
- Be slightly provocative in your engagements. Be highly respectful and make sure your points are well sourced, but CHALLENGE conventional points of view, and admit when you’re wrong. This will build your thought leadership skills, and the perceptions from leadership is you are always looking to improve on conventional thought.
- When posting, answering, and commenting…use [@]Mention as much as possible and link back to previous posts from other managers and Sr. Leadership. Do not just mention them to mention them…make sure the mentions are in context to the conversation, otherwise you will be seen in a negative manner (aka, butt kisser)
- Ensure the TIMESTAMPS of your posts indicate your sharing, learning, collaborating is taking place throughout the day.
- Email those who are not using the Social Business Platform about the discussions, invoking their participation and feedback.
- Create and Post Videos about relevant company topics, making sure to use your face somewhere in the video. If possible have peers contribute their POV to the video too, perhaps even create departmental videos.
- Mark all of your valuable and important discussions as “favorites” in the Social Business Platform so you can find them quickly when it comes time to prepare for your Performance Reviews.
Now I know this seems like tons of extra work, and it is, but if you agree with the findings of the MIT-Sloan study, the rewards will be worth the time invested. One key finding from the MIT-Sloan study indicated:
“Managers were 9% more likely to unconsciously attribute the traits “dependable” and “responsible” to people who put in expected face time and 25% more likely to unconsciously attribute the traits “committed” and “dedicated” to people who put in extracurricular face time”
They key point is; if you work remotely and want to improve your value within the company, being digitally visible will make a difference. I think if you’re able to demonstrate your participation to the overall organizational knowledge pool, then you might find yourself tagged a “High Valued Employee”, even if you are hardly in the office.
So good luck and remember it can pay to… “WORK OUT LOUD”
*If anyone has other tips and tricks, please put them in the comments section, and I will expand the list accordingly.