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Tips for the Office Nomad

Employees, especially contractors, often connect with clients based on availability and/or engagement at the client’s worksite. This often means contracted employees are splitting their time between three or more locations – a contractor office, the client site, and home. How can one stay focused, organized, and accessible when working at multiple locations? Like anything, there are benefits and challenges to being an office nomad.

Flexibility and communication are key. Technology enables efficient work no matter where one is sitting – assuming the internet works! It’s easy to keep co-workers, the boss, clients, and anyone else who “needs to know,” informed of where you are via Outlook or SharePoint calendars and to access files on network drives or SharePoint. That said, bouncing from location to location takes some special skills. Here are some tricks that have worked for me:

 

  • Privacy & Focus – Chances are one or more locations have limited privacy and/or quiet areas. If those elements are necessary or important to you, you may need to improvise. Meeting room reservations, headphones, and car calls may be your friend.
  • Tools – Moving locations presents a physical challenge; you haul belongings back and forth and try to remember which printer to select. A rolling laptop case or a trunk may help organize hard copy files and supplies. A checklist for each office location may help with managing the who, how, and what of office resources.
  • Virtual Collaboration – Although collaboration can be supported by technology, often coworkers think they need to wait for time “in the office” to engage. Skype for Business should soon facilitate more collaboration. Explore ways to use technology for communication with colleagues in different locations.
  • Shared Space Issues – If you are camping out at a conference table, hoteling, or working from someone else’s cubicle, remember to clean up the desk and keyboard before and after each use with wipes. No one likes to work over leftover chip crumbs and a fresh work space will help you get in the zone more quickly!
  • Unwritten Rules – Learn each office’s culture for work hours, dress code, as well as reserving/using space, equipment, and the kitchen. Be conscientious when having conversations, using mobile phones (use the sound settings), and reheating foods with distinct scents.
  • Sense of Belonging/Team – Sometimes it may feel “out of sight, out of mind” or slightly impersonal moving place to place. Stay in touch by attending company and team meetings in person.

Even with its challenges, working in multiple locations and maintaining flexibility can be energizing! We’d like to hear from you in the comments. What challenges or tricks have you successfully implemented?

I also presented a webinar on the topic of Leading Effective Meetings and Prioritizing Work Demands available on-demand. If you find yourself in meetings and wonder why you are there, this session is for you. It’s also eligible for 0.5 PMI® PDUs in the Leadership category of the Talent Triangle.

 

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