Socializing In The Office
I want to clarify something that someone quoted me on in regards to going into “the office” and socializing because it kind of sounds like I was quoted out of context.
As many of my regular readers know, I work from home the vast majority of the time. I work out of my home office and “telecommute” to an office nearly 700 miles away. My trips to the office are usually week-long and they occur anywhere from every 6 weeks or so to every 6 months depending on what’s going on. One particularly down year, I went 9 months between visits! That’s a long time to be working at home without an office visit!
My boss had recently written something appropriate on one of those “development plans” that are common large-company HR exercises. He said that I am “able to form relationships which enable him to effectively garner the ”mind share” required to accomplish things he needs within the company.” How do you do that, especially when you are remote?
Consider the water cooler, break room, or whatever you have at your office. Or in a hallway. Or in someone’s office/cubicle. Consider how much information exchange occurs in that location. All of these “unplanned” moments are where relationships are formed, strengthened, broken, etc. These moments can happen several times a day if you are a regular office-bound worker.
Now consider that you have less than 1/4 of the opportunity for those moments to occur. That makes each one of those moments that much more critical. In fact, you may have to actively work to create some of those moments, both inside and outside of the confines of the office.
One way you can “work” to create those moments is to get involved with things outside of your normal job description. For example, I frequently get involved with new products that are outside of our group’s competency. I participate in internal beta testing, both inside and outside my division. I meet interesting people within the company “because I can.” I sign up to do things within the company that are clearly not my job. Why? Because the relationships I build in the process of doing that stuff will be helpful in the future.
Of course, to the unenlightened, it looks a hell of a lot like goofing off. To some extent, it even feels like it. However, it is clearly a key to getting things done. I no longer feel guilty about it because I understand the value for myself and the business. As long as you are effective and getting results, you shouldn’t either.