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Does Telecommuting Make You Invisible? 275

jfruhlinger writes "Telecommuting provides many joys, including the ability to stay in your pajamas all day and the chance to work with a cat on your lap. But it does have some major drawbacks, perhaps none so serious as the fact that, if your co-workers are for the most part in an office, they can forget you exist — which means you don't get credit for your work as you deserve."
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Does Telecommuting Make You Invisible?

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  • by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:05PM (#38204510) Journal
    But in a word: yes.
    • Expanded answer (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:11PM (#38204610)

      It depends.

      • It depends.

        Indeed.....for many projects, I think often contract ones with the govt. more and more...EVERYONE on the project for the most part often is working remotely from home.

        I'm seeing this more and more often....which is nice.

        Unless you are afraid to 'stand up' on the teleconference team'll get your share of attention for accomplishments.

        • Re:Expanded answer (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:33PM (#38204900)

          Not just government, any job which consists of a lot of overseas work (anything in HW engineering, unfortunately). Trying to make times work between US east/west and central time zones, India, china and/or malaysia means telecommuting.

          I couldn't pick half my coworkers out of a lineup. I also don't have this "credit" problem, I know who did what based on long chains of emails. My boss knows the same.

          I can't say now that I have kids, that I like telecommuting as much as I did before then (or may like once the kids are in school all day), but most of the arguments I hear against it always have the smell of bullshit.

      • Re:Expanded answer (Score:5, Interesting)

        by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:38PM (#38204960) Journal

        There is a reason that the expression 'out of sight, out of mind' came about. And it says it all. In general... in the greatest general terms, it holds true. And in the current context this generality is what applies. People won't think about you if you aren't there... unless of course you don't do your work. And even that isn't a guarantee these days. It is like IT, no one cares if you are there unless something goes wrong. And at those times, if the powers that be can't get to you in a way that is convenient to them, they will find someone who is better able to accommodate them.

        We're talking real life real people here, not computer code. The answer here has to appeal to the greatest common denominator, not the least (we don't need to always satisfy the edge case). Just the same as crossing the street. You look both ways because most people won't be able to stop in time if you step right in front of their car [obligatory car analogy satisfied]. So the answer is yes, you are more invisible if you aren't there. You won't be included in quick meetings to solve problems that pop up, you won't get credit for helping get over many critical issues that require personal attention. You will be an invisible work horse. Yes there are exceptions, but not everyone is or can be an exception; just like not everyone can be above average.

      • Re:Expanded answer (Score:5, Informative)

        by Deep Esophagus ( 686515 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:35PM (#38207198)

        Yup, you're only as invisible as you want to be. I'm in a mid-sized IT company (~1100 employees) and spent the first half of my career (now coming up on 20 years) in tech support as the only remote employee in the department and one of only five remotes at the company. I took calls from customers and colleagues, had weekly meetings with my boss by phone, and made extensive use of email and IM to keep myself in the thick of activities 1000 miles away. Come performance review time, I brought forth evidence from my "fan mail" folder showing how much the customers loved me.

        Now I'm on a development team that includes a group working from India. We have Live Meeting conferences twice a week (at 9AM our time, 8PM theirs) and I'm in constant communication with my supervisor via IM and the rest of the group via email. When they took a group photo last week to show the rest of the company at a management meeting, I GIMP'ed myself into the group.

        I couldn't even stay invisible if I wanted to. A few years ago when I was making the transition from support to development, I went to our Dallas office to shop around for a new position (my support for the legacy products was no longer needed) and got dragged into a management meeting. I ended up the center of attention as a parade of colleagues came in and described how I had pulled their fat out of the fire over the past 15 years. All this took place with me sitting right next to the CEO, who was always one of the most vocal opponents to telecommuting. So afterwards I told him I had been trying to stay under his radar, and he said he has always known about me because whenever a crisis arose involving our legacy products, someone would say "No problem, DeepEsophagus is on it" or "DeepEsophagus already took care of that."

        The important thing is to make sure the impression you leave is a GOOD one.

    • by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:23PM (#38204784)
      You can be invisible and still be feared as a malvolent and vengeful god.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by OakDragon ( 885217 )
      Short answer : "Yes" with an "If", long answer : "No" with a "But"...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:05PM (#38205382)

      But making my cat happier is worth it, I live to serve.

    • Telecommuting doesn't make me invisible; my invisibility cloak does.

  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:05PM (#38204516)

    The question is, does the benefit of working from home offset that? Visibility is important to some, not so much to others. It all depends on your plan or lack of it.

    Personally, I think a lack of visibility can only help me!

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:16PM (#38204688)
      Who do you suppose gets picked come layoff time, the 'C' player who gets seen every day, or the 'B' player who nobody ever sees?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's easy, it's the fuckup that everyone has to deal with every day. The real worry is that you have a B player who gets seen every day and an equally good B player who telecommutes; then the work-from-home guy is screwed.

        • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:03PM (#38205336)

          Again, that risk is real, but it's a cost of the benefit of working from home. Different strokes for different folks! Sometimes the work from home guy is making less because it was part of his salary negotiation. In that case, he might be the one to keep his job.

          On the flip side, I found that by being in the office I'd engage in casual conversation. These became important because you gain a better feel for how people use the system you work on. A lot of questions about implementation are avoided because you seem to just "know" the expectations a little better. Osmosis, I guess. Also, there are always small bugs that people never bring up because they don't think they are important enough for a trouble ticket. These only come up in non-related conversation. "By the way... I noticed this issue.. let me show you". These kind of interactions provide opportunity for a software developer to take initiative and improve the system in ways that matter.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:40PM (#38205002) Homepage

        Unless the perception is that the 'C' Player is an 'A' Player and the 'B' player is actually an 'F' because he "never does anything".

        I knew a few 'D' Players who were treated like they were some sort of bad ass ninjas, just because nobody in charge had any clue how to evaluate them or their work... and the few people who did realize it were less visible and thus got totally ignored.

        Ever met a sociopath? You would be shocked at how far just a little charm will take you, especially in the eyes of non-technical people who can't call you on your BS.

        • by royallthefourth ( 1564389 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:44PM (#38205044)

          You would be shocked at how far just a little charm will take you, especially in the eyes of non-technical people who can't call you on your BS.

          I was shocked the first couple times I tried it, but now it's pretty routine.

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

            You would be shocked at how far just a little charm will take you, especially in the eyes of non-technical people who can't call you on your BS.

            I was shocked the first couple times I tried it, but now it's pretty routine.

            there's also that you can seem like a sociopath if you just call others on their bullshit - like trying to get to know wtf the technical thing required is required for, if you know that then goofing off might seem logical(and again make you look like a sociopath, since you seem to be just playing time, which you might very well be even if for good reasons).

            ever been on a r&d project that made no sense in the context it was done in, in an office where head count made no sense but it didn't matter because

      • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

        Who do you suppose gets picked come layoff time, the 'C' player who gets seen every day, or the 'B' player who nobody ever sees?

        With any luck they will forget about you then too...

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I wonder if its possible to become so invisible that you really do get forgotten about -- the guy who exists on the payroll DB, gets a paycheck, but doesn't exist otherwise.

          • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

            I wonder if its possible to become so invisible that you really do get forgotten about -- the guy who exists on the payroll DB, gets a paycheck, but doesn't exist otherwise.

            That would be good. I'd even take up another job ... and try to get forgotten in that one too!

          • by PNutts ( 199112 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @05:26PM (#38207078)

            I wonder if its possible to become so invisible that you really do get forgotten about -- the guy who exists on the payroll DB, gets a paycheck, but doesn't exist otherwise.

            Then they take your stapler, move you to the basement, and fix the glitch.

    • by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:19PM (#38204736) Journal

      I was at a company that allowed telecommuting (and in fact promoted it) but never opted to do so (mainly because I don't have a good quiet space to work from home -- kids and all). Marginal and average workers who worked from home were thought of as "goofing off" and having "reduced productivity". Above average workers were thought of as just average. Those that telecommuted but continued to come in to the office three or four days a week (using the hotel cubes) didn't receive this stigma. Those that worked in the office were seen as more productive because they were visible.

      So, yeah, they were "invisible"......which doesn't matter except for during key times -- layoffs, raises/promotions, and project assignment (you want the good ones, right?). But, for those that were skating by, being invisible isn't that big of a deal.

      • by ISoldat53 ( 977164 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:03PM (#38205342)
        The same thing happens to road warriors or remote offices. If you are not at the HO to rub elbows at the right parties or be seen with the right people you don't really exist no matter how successful you are. Conversely, no matter how f'ed up you are if you do throw a roaring party or golf with the boss you will survive the downsizing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chaboud ( 231590 )

        I'd tend to agree with this. Try having a manager who clearly checks out (no email responsiveness, no productivity) when working from home. Then, when you're remote, he's assuming that you are goofing off as much as he would.

        It can be worth it, and it can work. Emails turn a bit spammy (roping too many people into a conversation), and status reports matter more than they should. Most managers don't know what engineers do, so their only indication that you're doing work is that you are there, preferably

        • by Moryath ( 553296 )

          Good software engineers are inherently lazy looking. They don't spray out a bunch of lines of code and then busily fix hundreds of bugs. They consider a good plan of attack, write clear, concise code, and fix very few bugs (because they have very few). This is lost on almost all managers in the tech industry.

          This is because "managers" are, with few exceptions, brainless wastes of oxygen whose purpose is to look at "metrics" instead of actual work performance.

          Programmer A writes 1000 lines an hour, but cause

      • Dev work can often be that way. You can spend hours figuring out how to get something to work but only check in 10 lines of code that day. If your in the office and people can see you checking user groups like crazy and the like no problem. But if your working from home all the boss sees is that you only checked in 10 lines today versus 200 yesterday. Must have been slacking off.
    • by Another, completely ( 812244 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:20PM (#38204742)

      Until the department manager is asked to name people to downsize, nobody in the room remembers the last useful thing you did, and you don't even hear rumors that you should make the case for yourself, since you don't have lunch with your co-workers.

      A lot of important information is exchanged over lunch and coffee.

    • Exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:29PM (#38204838)

      If you are trying to climb the corporate ladder, the more "visible" you are the better. You want management to think of you -- and often. Get up and walk around, up and down the hall, make smalltalk (this is crucial), and try to make yourself a permanent icon. Your work performance, dare I say, isn't nearly as important as your social skills.

      On the other hand, if you are destined to be stuck in dead-end job for the rest of your life (like me) -- for whatever reason -- then it would be pointless to burden yourself with all of the above. Do the exact opposite. Avoid social contact. Make sure they know you did the job, and then disappear. (The ladder-climbing types will love you for this -- they don't like competition.) Consider your work nothing but a paycheck, and subtract every minute you spend on it from your real life.

      Sounds negative, doesn't it? Welcome to the real world.

  • by spads ( 1095039 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:07PM (#38204560)
    are inconsequential (pretty much moots) or your managers are incompetent.
  • by tirk ( 655692 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:08PM (#38204576) Homepage
    As a telecommuter that lives in Oregon and works for a company in California full time I telecommute from my home office. Taking aside the needed disciplines of staying focused, you need some office protocol disciplines too. For one, we do weekly department head meetings and weekly staff meetings with a video conference set up or at minimum audio conference, and we all talk about what we are working on and what our goals are. This helps everyone know what everyone else is doing. I also send at least one week each email to all the people I've been doing projects that effect them, or need to stay on top and just ask if I've been able to make things work as they expect and if there are any other items they need or would like. This keeps them in contact with me. I also do a weekly meeting with my director and we discuss projects and goals. And finally I try to take at least 6 trips a year to the actual office staying through a week on each of those trips. I usually do more like 9 to 10 trips and sometimes stay a week and a half. I actually hate that part, living out of a hotel room sucks, but it's a small price to pay for having no commute time and being able to work in my pajamas. And you have to sometimes keep pushing for all those meetings and trips as the office will tend to let them slip otherwise. :)
  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:09PM (#38204598)

    As someone who just made several hundred dollars while lounging around in key west, I can safely say that the trade off is well worth it.

  • by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:10PM (#38204600)

    At the company I work at we don't have much of the software necessary to track the performance of employees. When I got promoted I got a nice big cube in a corner, away from everyone else. Very soon after getting moved I started getting accused of not being on the phones, not doing my work, blah blah blah. It aggravated me to no end, I was screaming mad about it, but that didn't help.

    I did eventually solve my visibility issue.

    The solution was chocolate.

    I now keep a candy jar in my cube and have let everyone know they can come by my cube at anytime and help themselves. All complaints have ceased.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Candy solves all problems.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      This is not a visibility issue but common bribery. Noone has the heart to complain about someone handing out free chocolate.

    • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:34PM (#38204906)

      The candy jar is a time honored dispute avoidance technique. I'm surprised more people don't utilize it.

      Bonus points if you bring in the really good stuff. Fucking 50 DKP Minus if you bring in the 5 cent shit-tier suckers that nobody likes.

      • by Jeng ( 926980 )

        Snickers appears to be king. I also stock 3 Musketeers, Twix and Kit Kat in the chocolate jar, this being the "fun size", not the little squares. In the hard candy jar I have butterscotchs and cinnamon disks.

        I would not be able to achieve the desired effect if what I offered wasn't something people wanted. I sometimes take the least wanted and switch it for something else.

        • I used to bring in those Ghirardelli squares but I had to stop because a people literally started stealing handfuls out of the jar when I wasn't around and it was costing me a fortune.

          Now I grab the mix bags of the same stuff you do. Still popular, but it's not costing me $20 a week refilling the jar, at least.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:57PM (#38205244)
      I have to remember that. That was a problem at my previous job. I was moved to the other end of the office to oversee all the developers. I was doing my job handling all the basic decisions and making sure only a few actually had to work its way up management... What happened, my manager got worried and moved his office next to mine to keep a better eye on us. As he felt we weren't doing any work. Because he only stopped by during his lunch break (and ours) where we were either out to lunch of just generally chatting to clear our heads.
      I should have just gotten a Candy dish and that way he would stop by at random points during the day when we were working or heads off.
  • by Relyx ( 52619 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:11PM (#38204612)

    Credit is very nice, but at the end of the day it is getting the job done that matters. If you are good at what you do then that will usually be recognised. You will be a valued team member. If for some reason though a company fails to appreciate your efforts and you feel hard done by, then it is time to move elsewhere. They will suffer the consequences in due course, but that is their problem.

    • by Sam Andreas ( 894779 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:25PM (#38204814)

      "Credit is very nice, at the end of the day it is getting the job done that matters"

      Maybe to the owners and shareholders but not for anyone else. Having worked under both good and bad managers, and now in a position of leading my own team, I have to say you'd be crazy to ignore this. The worst case is not people leaving your company. The worst case is turning great employees into average employees.

    • Oh my God, it is soooo nice to hear someone recognize the truth in work. I mean to bypass entirely the cynicality of modern.... bbbwwwwwaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ..... oh my fucking God, are you serious?! If you can't get credit for good work that you've done, then you are done. Done in. Business school graduates are business school graduates specifically because they are fucking halfwit lazy asses. If you sit by waiting for them to recognize your hard work, you'll sit forever. The only time they pay attention is
  • by Mean Variance ( 913229 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:12PM (#38204632)

    I am a telecommuter. I negotiated 80%/20%, i.e. I come into the office 150 miles away once a week. The purpose is to schedule meetings on projects, attend a weekly team meeting, and it gives the opportunity to mingle and see my coworkers.

    That arrangement really helps. In addition, I use software that routes my phone extension to my home office (so people don't have to keep my phone# on a post it), I use Yahoo IM for chats, and of course email.

    The point is, if you are a telecommuter, make yourself accessible at any time that you would be if you were in the office. If things are quiet for an extended period, make an effort to touch base with your immediate team (speaking from the perspective of a software developer here). Does anyone need me to pitch in on anything? Send a link to a funny or interesting article.

    Generally my work is so busy and requires so much collaboration that it creates the necessary visibility, but just be sure you aren't making it difficult to be contacted and embrace the discussions, even mundane ones unless it gets out of hand.

    In software dev, also have your screen ready to share for discussion (myriad of choices). I find that helps to collaborate and be more visible to my colleagues.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:13PM (#38204652)
    Invisibility is great when you can telecommute to two or more different jobs where you are invisible, yet still paid. It's important to find inefficient large companies where managers are more interested in having headcount than great productivity. Then you can just invisible along at your multiple jobs.
  • by vlm ( 69642 )

    WTF? I'm not invisible when I'm on call at 2am. Doesn't even make sense. By that logic when I'm on call I should just shut off the ringer and get a good nights sleep, after all, supposedly that's invisible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:13PM (#38204656)

    I used to drive 3+ hours a day to 'be in the office' with my peers. I'd work extra to bring improvements for the team to fruition, since we weren't allowed to do them as part of 'work'. I didn't get credit then, so I couldn't get less credit from home. After I told them I'd be in the office one day a week, I still only had interaction with my peers one out of three days in the office. My employer has a terrible track record for recognition. My congratulations on 10 years of employment: was an email sent almost a year late.

    If you like having no creative input, if you enjoy toiling in obscurity, if you enjoy petty bosses who poo-poo your ideas only to bring them up as their own 6 months later, work for the government.

    Don't get me wrong: I know interaction is a two way street. I used to put in the effort to be TEAM oriented. Unfortunately, the team doesn't actually work together (we each get our own projects) so the effort was unrecognized and wasted.

  • Rules/tips (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rinisari ( 521266 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:14PM (#38204664) Homepage Journal

    I work from home every now and then (more often, recently). Last year, I wrote my own rules for working from home []. Are there any other solid ones I should include?

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:17PM (#38204706) Homepage

    If telecommuting means you're not interacting with co-workers and being 'seen', then yes, you might become invisible and/or deemed irrelevant. It also might mean you are.

    Both my wife and I work from home lately, as the contract I work on is across country and her job went to telecommute-only a couple of years ago. I'm in conference calls, email threads, planning meetings, and all sorts of things all the time. My wife is on the phone a good chunk of the day as well as countless emails and IMs with people.

    If you are doing your job in a corner, never interacting with people, and it becomes possible that people forget you exist ... well, maybe that's not the fault of telecommuting. I've worked in offices where there are people who nobody really knows what they do, who they report to, or what their role is -- it's possible to be invisible in the office too, and in my experience if nobody knows who you are and what you do then maybe you're just putting in time and waiting until someone realizes they don't know what they pay you for.

    Not saying telecommuting is for everyone, or that it fixes everything ... but I've been doing it for over a year, and it's not like anybody on the project I'm working on doesn't know who I am. They may have only met me face to face a handful of times ... but between email and phone calls, I'm hardly invisible. Quite the opposite, in fact since I was kind of the technical lead.

    What kind of job can you even be doing that doesn't call for interaction with your co-workers? If you're regularly doing the kinds of things that normal people do, there's no reason for you to disappear as a teleworker.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:17PM (#38204708) Journal
    Yeah, you won't get credit for good work, but you would get more than the fair share of the blame when things go wrong, and in the end it will average out. Wait. There seems to be catch here somewhere.
  • Perhaps somebody who works from home used a euphemism you aren't familiar with?

    Many people dream of working from home; but I don't know anybody who dreams of working in an office. I wonder why.

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:23PM (#38204782)
    I honestly think "visibility" becomes a moot point when you work from home. If you have the good fortune to be able to work from home, I think you are doing it precisely because invisibility from the office scene is what you seek. I wouldn't really care about promotion or getting all the credit if I had that wonderful perk available to me. I have a friend that works from home and he continues to get recognition for what he does but he doesn't care. The reward is in the ability to work from home.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:24PM (#38204790) Homepage Journal

    Ive been working remotely most of the time since 1998.

    When does the boss take me out to lunch with the team? Never.

    A beer after work on Fridays? Nope.

    Project tshirts? Nada.

    Don't think telecommuting is paradise. It's not.

  • If you can telecommute to work, so can someone else in another country who will do your job for cheaper.
  • Put your fingerprints all over everything you do and the accusations of invisibility will disappear. No one can argue that you're not pulling your weight if you have documentation and change logs with your name all over them.
  • If telecommuting is common in the company, then visibility is hardly a concern. People in the hierarchy get trained to look for results, not presence.

    If you are the only person who is remote, then it can present more of an issue.

  • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:40PM (#38205000) Journal

    Seriously, the solution seems obvious. Telecommute some days (if you're allowed to), but make an appearance at least once a week, have lunch and/or meetings with with people (especially your boss) to keep you in the loop, and keep you and your work visible to them.

  • It's True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gorfie ( 700458 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:46PM (#38205082)
    I've telecommuted before, one day a week, and I found that my presence as a valuable employee was diminished. Things would happen at the office that I couldn't be a part of. My contributions to the team were less evident - especially that immeasurable contribution you make when you participate in discussions and help your peers. If you are competing with your peers for advancement (or simply to keep your job) then you shouldn't be working from home. If you are satisfied with your current role and pay rate, then it's a good deal.
    • My experiences were similar when working from home on projects with other employees, but this also happened when working offsite in general, even on multi-month projects at client offices.

      When working on projects which were mainly staffed with consultants, the downsides did not exist.

      Overall the benefits of working from home as often as possible seem to outweigh the negatives unless you are have other people actively trying to horn in on your job.

  • by jmizrahi ( 1409493 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:47PM (#38205090)

    Telecommuting provides many joys, including the ability to stay in your pajamas all day and the chance to work with a cat on your lap.

    Does anyone else find the two listed "perks" of telecommuting extremely unappealing?

  • by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:50PM (#38205144)

    In my experience, if you show up on e-mail lists and teleconferences, you are considered active, but "inhuman" in the sense that people no longer have idea on what *exactly* are you doing, what's your supposed workload, and so on. So instead of human resource, you become just a resource, a gray eminence that lives only in electronic form.

    I have been at a new job, primarily doing it remotely when possible for half a year now, and typically my only on-site jaunts will be to customer premises. As such, I'm not too often at the office.

    Solution: HD-level videoconferencing. Since I can partake in meetings with 50" screens at the office end, my presence is not only felt, but it's rather imposing :). (My home has smaller, desktop videophone). The HD quality *is* necessary - if you appear as bunch of DCT blocks used by older systems, the effect is not much beyond normal (voice) teleconference.

    Anyway, consider possibilities of video for remote participation.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:52PM (#38205180) Homepage

    A buddy of mine has been "invisible" for 5 years and skipped all the downsizing. His direct report was let go and he still get's a check every 2 weeks. he has no idea who he is supposed to report to for the past 18 months, and had heard NOTHING from the main office, so he simply does his job and collects the checks. the company cellphone and VPN accounts still work, and HR still is paying him and covering insurance.

    Being invisible is a good thing at times.

    • At least until they "fix the problem". I hope they don't mess with his red stapler.
    • by trdrstv ( 986999 )
      You sure that's not just a "glitch" in the payroll system ? #OfficeSpace
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:29PM (#38205642)

      I'll give you one better.

      I worked for a small (>200 person)l print shop in the midwest. We were bought up by one of the regionals as a 'future projects' plant. A year later the parent company merged and then right after that the merged company merged with another huge company. There were layoffs and plant-and-office closing all around us but we were untouched. Ten years and a half-dozen buyouts later they passed around a sheet at the plant. We were supposed to fill in our name and position. I wrote down IT. That day I got a call from a very worried regional IT manager. Seems I was supposed to report to him for the last five years, but he had never heard of my plant. Long story short, I was suddenly promoted three levels with a nice, fat raise and given the keys to every sales office and plant in the state. Over lunch that fall I was told that my invisibility had saved me from a round of savage layoffs but it had also prevented me from getting about $20,000 in extra pay.

  • by mejustme ( 900516 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:02PM (#38205328)
    I'm a software developer working remotely from home for many years now. About a year ago, between 2 and 4pm, I received several "congratulations" by e-mail. I was confused. Turns out they had a special lunch meeting in the board room where I was awarded a prize for some work I'd completed earlier in the year. Problem is, no-one remembered to invite me to the meeting, and while several people were on the conference line, no-one thought to ask if I was on the line.

    I'd still rather work from home versus commuting to a cube farm, but note it does present some challenges since people can easily forget to include you in meetings, decisions, conversations, etc.
  • by awjr ( 1248008 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:03PM (#38205340)

    Routine hygiene goes completely out the door as does the need to wear clothes.

    True Story: Office cabin in the garden; hot summers day; house on the market. Sitting naked working away, the real estate agent turns up with a bunch of people looking to buy the house. After that I always kept an emergency pair of shorts in the cabin. :)

  • I've telecommuted off-and-on for about 1/4 of my 20 year career, so I've seen a lot. Some people can just pull off telecommuting and some can't. I've never seen the situation described in this post, though, I can see how it might happen. Maybe I've just gotten lucky: telecommuted for the right companies, the right mix of people (including management), etc. Most teleworkers who have been perceived as goof-offs are, most of the time, goof offs.

    But I think it has more to do with the way I work.

    I'm a "produ

  • by tqk ( 413719 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:09PM (#38205430)

    ... they can forget you exist - which means you don't get credit for your work as you deserve.

    They can, sure, but they're going to have to go out of their way to do it with me. email to manager & team lead: "Yo boss. I found and fixed another massive bug in $yada. All the logging the thing's been doing for the last decade is worthless. Oh, and it'll now work seamlessly with all our data centres anywhere in the world." It can also help a lot if $yada is something that everybody else is afraid to touch for fear of breaking it.

    Communication is key.

    To be able to avoid all the BS team meetings, interruptions from colleagues and managers, United Way recruiting drives, the waste of gas while marooned in parking lots on commuter routes twice daily, ... Priceless!

  • I am impressed by the lack of comments about cats. So, here we go!

    Since I do extra shifts at home after dinner, I get the chance to have one or more cats on my lap while I work. It's awesome in the winter!

    The joy of being a business owner!!

  • I telecommute 50% of my time. This gives me enough physical presence at my work office to be "hands on" with my coworkers and attend meetings that are difficult to teleconference in.

    I agree that by telecommuting you do run the risk of missing promotion opportunities since you won't be within the "whisper net" that's in place in all office environments.

    Also people who telecommute at 100% regardless of the consequences don't have much weight with management. Their inflexibility makes them less than ideal for most promotions and they run the risk of being too expensive to keep at their current position. Supervisors do take willingness to make the effort to drive to work as a factor in deciding promotions; Not to mention most opportunities for promotion requires a physical presence at the office.

    I have notice a trend in the employers around me (most of my coworkers are subcontractors) that telecommuting is losing much of its luster. Telecommuting used to be encouraged as a method to reduce office space requirements and resources but now it's being discouraged and only granted for special circumstances.

  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @03:32PM (#38205680)

    It can absolutely be a problem and I think this has been demonstrated many times in the past.

    However, the problem I've encountered over the years isn't from your average employee telecommuting, it's management telecommuting. Your average designer or programmer can happily sit at home and still get their job done, all they need is a good understanding of what has to be done. But managers need to be available and closely involved in the process, because if they're not, what's really the point of even keeping them employed?

    And yet, it's everyone from project managers all the way on up to high level directors who most consistently partake in telecommuting. I've worked with countless project managers who come in to the office for a few hours, spend the entire time catching up because they have to rush back home. In quite a few cases I've found myself managing my own project, dealing with clients directly, rendering that manager redundant. But even worse are the higher ups. I've come across numerous clients who've got people who make themselves essential to the process but work from home a couple of days a week. I use the term "work" loosely as it's apparent they're just dicking around all day. And yet the company is stuck accommodating these jerks suffering stalled processes because they're not available to make decisions. And when they do decide to turn up at the office suddenly they're big saviors.

    It's a huge peeve of mine. Especially since everyone else is basically stuck doing their jobs for them. It's at a point where I sometimes feel like corporate America is welfare for the upper middle class.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:03PM (#38208268) Journal
    Never seemed to affect Charlie, at least as far as his Angels were concerned!
  • I have telecommuted 3/5 days each week for almost 6 years at the same company, here are a few observations:

    - be in the office the same days each week so that people know where/when to find your face
    - make your work visible, send status reports in even if they are not asked for
    - speak up on a call, if you have nothing to contribute then make jokes, use humor but make sure your voice is heard
    - when you are in the office, work hard
    - make sure folks see you online in instant messenger when your are at home

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"