I recently read an article that was sent to me from a coworker. It was from Office blogs and entitled, “How to work from home and look good doing it”. Being a work from home employee, it absolutely sparked my interest.

Small_Office_365_PurpleI know that the mobile workforce is growing, but I had no idea how quickly. The blog read, “In the last decade, the mobile workforce has increased by more than 100 percent—not that surprising when we consider the abundant improvement in technology over that same time period. Telecommuting offers wonderful benefits to companies and workers alike, with an improved work-life balance topping the charts. Not only that, but a 2015 Gallup poll shows that telecommuters are more likely to be more engaged in their jobs, and being engaged can lead to higher profitability, mobile productivity, customer engagement and other positive business outcomes.”

These statistics really impressed me. So many times, I hear people say that they wish they could work from home too. It seems that it’s not only more common, but it actually leads to more engaged employees.

Of course though, just like anything else, there is always a “but”. And this one, I can relate to more than anything. “But mobile teams experience problems of their own. At the forefront is the disconnection that naturally occurs when team members work separate from the rest of the team. Not only do telecommuters sometimes miss out on deeper relationships with co-workers, they don’t get to experience office culture and can easily miss important announcements. A case study conducted among full-time telecommuters at a Chinese travel agency even showed that mobile workers were up to 50 percent less likely to receive promotions.”

The article gave some , but I am going to share some thoughts of my own:

  • Communicate – Whether your schedule is flexible, or routine, it’s important to let your team know when they can count on you to be available. Teams work better when members know what to expect of each other.
  • Always meet your deadlines – This should go without saying, but it’s important to make sure you aren’t slacking off. According to the aforementioned Gallup poll, work-from-home productivity is at least as good as in-office productivity, if not better. Don’t be the one that causes your boss or co-workers to lose faith in the system. It helps to have a good, organized schedule and “to do” list.
  • Use all technology available – While email certainly has its place, other technology—such as instant messaging, conferencing, etc.—helps you connect with team members in the moment. Because you don’t have the ability to stop by a co-worker’s desk or see team members at the water cooler, you should take any opportunity you can to create conversations and collaboration when appropriate.
  • Regularly visit or work in the office – Many remote workers do not live close enough to visit the office weekly, but—depending on your role—regular time spent in the office is crucial to team cohesion. You and your manager will need to discuss how often is “enough,” but you’d be amazed how much it helps to show your face every once in a while. When co-workers have spent time with you in person, it makes it easier for them to approach you online or via phone when they need to chat about an issue or project. I go into the office once a week, and it makes such a huge difference to just have the chance to work together, in person and just see my coworkers’ faces.
  • Build relationships with co-workers who can keep you informed – Even if you visit the office on occasion, you’ll probably miss out on some news or information when you aren’t there. Check in regularly with office friends who will gladly keep you apprised of anything important—even a shift in the office culture or mood. I have no idea where I would be without my office friends who always make sure I am up to speed on what is going on. There are definitely important things you miss when you aren’t in the office daily.

If it weren’t for Office 365, sure, I could still work from home, but not as efficiently. This is one of those technologies that allows me to connect and collaborate with my coworkers on a daily basis even though I can’t be in the office that much.

Give Office 365 a try!