Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting Ahead in Slippers

What telecommuter isn't writing or thinking about this one: I'm only in my seventh month of telecommuting so I can't really say for sure, but a recent study of 1,320 global executives conducted by HR consulting firm Korn/Ferry says that I'm less likely to get ahead by virtue of not being physically in front of my boss every day. It's the classic conundrum: everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die. Executives want to seem supportive of flexible work arrangements -- hey, we're hip, we're now, we're progressive, we're change agents. But they also want things to stay the way they were, and that means people in offices wearing ties and pantyhose.

In my workplace, there aren't a lot of opportunities for "promotion" per se. We're an academic institution and my productivity doesn't have a direct impact on my advancement -- I don't get a bigger bonus for writing more code or garnering more online transactions. Frankly, I feel grateful that I received the standard 2% raise during my recent review.

That said, I do feel that I could miss out on opportunities because I'm not "there" to be invited to meetings on an impromptu basis, or to identify and fix some problem by walking around the Real Office and hearing people talk.

So what do I do to counter this? By being as "there" as I can be. I work the same hours as everyone else in the Real Office so they almost always get me on the phone, IM, or videoconference as soon as they call, IM, or ping me. I keep my technology humming so that I can pop-in on a meeting by camera or phone whenever I'm needed. I keep an eye on what's going on on the conference room and ask to be invited to meetings that look like things I should be a part of. I call people just to chat.

But we'll see. One review down, but will I ever be promoted? Only the shadow knows...

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