A manager that I know holds a high-level post in a boutique professional services firm. He insists that he sit as close to his staff as possible. For years he avoided having an office, preferring to sit in the cubes with his staff so that he could be in the mix day to day, aware when challenges arise and accessible to dole out praise, proffer feedback and tackle challenges as they arise.
Another manager prefers to be the first in the office in the morning and the last to leave, believing that it helps his staff to see that the entire team shares the workload and accountability in their section.
And many of the managers that I’ve respected most have held tightly to the idea that they won’t ask their staff to do something that they won’t do themselves.
Our presence in the office sends not-so-subtle signals about the way that our work fits into our lives. If you’re opening the office at 7 am and closing it at 6 pm, you’re generally thought of as dedicated and hardworking (although questions about life outside the office may arise…).
It may seem archaic in an increasingly mobile, virtual workplace but the amount of time your butt spends in your office chair still impacts your perceived dedication. And it can directly affect how much you know about the undercurrents of office politics, the nuances of a developing client relationship or the level of engagement your team maintains.
But as more and more professionals seek “work-life balance” many management-level pros are yearning for flex time, telecommuting and other mobile work arrangements that make it easier to juggle their professional and personal commitments.
The question is… at what cost?
Can you continue to progress within an organization with a primarily telecommuting position?
What kinds of organizations support this kind of career path?
How can smart professionals stay engaged and informed with what’s going on in the office without needing to be there all the time?
Have you been a successful telecommuter? Let us know what has worked for you.