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Working remotely and being overlooked(17 Posts)
I work as part of a team which is mostly based in our head office. I don't live near there, so I work remotely and tend to Skype into meetings etc - all the work is web based, so there's no reason for anybody to need to be in the office to do it. I do go in a couple of times a month just to show my face, really, but it's not economically justifiable for me to do that more regularly.
I have no issues with the work, I don't need constant supervision - but I do feel like the rest of the team forgets about me because I'm not physically there like the rest of them are. It's just the little things like not including me in impromptu meetings, my boss not checking in with me to see if I'm getting on ok (I can go for days without hearing from him), and not being part of the general chat during downtime where people get to know each other better. I don't expect to be best friends with my colleagues but I do miss the every day pleasantries.
I'm not sure what I can really do about any of this, but I feel isolated and overlooked on a day to day basis. Do I say anything at the next check-in with my manager, or is this just what remote working is like?
I can understand this must be a little difficult for you, but you can't have your cake and eat it. If it's not economically justifiable for you to go into the office more often then that sounds like it's a choice you make. Perhaps your colleagues don't have that choice and have to go into work. Surely you choose to stay at home as it suits you, so you can't then complain because you're being left out.
How can they include you in impromptu meetings if you aren't there?
Do you need the boss checking in on you?
I can see why someone who is only in the office twice a month is overlooked. As frustrating as it is for you, there's not much that can be done. I'd look at the advantages; no one is hassling you, you're allowed autonomy to prioritise your own work, no obligation to get involved in office politics.
Yes say something. But also, what’s preventing you Skyping each morning just to check in? The last team I was on had one person who did a lot from home (Similar amount to you) and you genuinely did forget about him.... not deliberately just that -out of sight out of mind.
So if I were you I’d suggest that you at least wave hello each day so you remain on your boss’s radar
You seem to have assumed that I'm avoiding going into the office because I don't want to. I hesitated to give more detail about the setup because I didn't want it to be too outing, but OK - as well as the head office, there are a number of regional offices, one of which I'm based at. It is 200 miles from where the rest of my team are based, so it's really not just me being lazy for not being able to go in all the time. I'm not sitting around at home while everyone else has to slog into the office.
When I said economically justifiable, I meant for the company, since they pay for travel.
It is easy to set up meetings, even impromptu ones, so that someone can dial into them. And I don't need the boss to be calling me every five minutes, but I'm quite new to the role and I don't feel that I'm getting a lot of feedback on how I'm doing.
However. Clearly I am being unreasonable and so I won't be saying anything, but I may reconsider if the setup is right for me and apply for something with a more traditional basis when an opportunity comes up.
I think your set up is fine. I've spent the last 10 years working in a hot dealing remote global sort of set up, then recently had a stint in a static 'each person has their own desk and comes in every day and has their own mug' and nearly suffocated! Back to hot desking, flexible, wfh when you like and feel much better. Suggest to try a a squad approach of 10 mins every other morning with coffee check in just to say hello or a weekly webex/Skype 5 mins update from each person to catch up type approach? They might not be used to thinking of you as you're not visible but if you do something like this they'll be reminded of your value.
I am in a similar situation to you (work alone in a European office, the rest of my team in a different European office and the HQ in London) and have felt the same too. It's much better now after I started sending quick Skype messages to some team members in the morning, just a quick hello, anything special happening today etc and scheduling weekly catch ups with specific team members. My boss travels loads and our regular scheduled calls often get moved but I will just drop him a quick update message or email if we can't talk.
It's a hard situation but once I started making more effort it became quite natural and the others reach out to me regularly too.
You need to get your boss on board though, they can encourage more interaction throughout the team.
Oh and we started doing the monthly team meeting as a Skype video call instead of just voice and that helps too.
To be honest, I think this is typical of set ups where a few people remote work but everyone else is based in the office.
Are you not having regular 1-2-1s? That's the time to get feedback on your process.
I think it would probably be a good idea to ask about a weekly team catch-up, but I personally wouldn't mind your set up. I already remote work. We have a daily team meeting but use slack during the day
I think the trouble is that my situation is new to them too. They've never had a remote worker on the team and part of my interview involved convincing them that it would work, so now I'm reluctant to voice any concerns which might make them think twice about whether it was a good idea to take me on.
I don't really have 1-2-1 meetings, no. I get on with the work and tend to assume that I've done it right if nobody says otherwise. I don't mind being left to organise my own time, but it's a lot more hands off than I'm used to, and I do feel a bit isolated. It's probably my anxiety speaking though.
I think it sounds like you talked them into it and now you don't like it. I'd be wary of saying much because you are easy to get rid of before 2 years employment.
Could you ask your manager for a meeting to review how the remote working is going?
You could ask for a daily check in via Skype if you felt this would help.
I really think if they are happy with your work then you should just crack on how you are and slowly adjust things so you feel more included.
Remote working is not for everyone. I love it but I know some people would feel the same way.
I think first start with the feedback. ask about a monthly catch up so you can at least have a platform to talk about how things are going
(As a side note, I really dislike it when employers dont do this, it should be compulsory, how else can you get feedback from staff and understand how people are progressing!)
Hercwasonaroll in a nutshell, yes! I transferred from a different part of the organisation so I have the two years under my belt, but my old role has obviously now been filled. Maybe I just need longer to get used to it. I don't think I've given them any reason to try to get rid of me - I haven't cocked up my work or been rude to the boss or anything. But I take your point about not rocking the boat.
What I suggest is
- establish 1 2 1 meetings with your manager, keep a tracker of all issues and actions. Discuss development planning here too. If they get cancelled, update it and send it out.
- ask to have Webex or whatever included on all meeting invites so you can dial in.
- suggest standups? Daily or every other day for 15 minutes in the morning to discuss priorities that day.
- Skype or Teams? Set up a team chat room and engage on it.
I've worked in similar situations and the way management approaches it can have a major impact. YY to asking for a review with your manager, have lots of positives prepared to mention and refer to how to feel more part of the team as an "even better if " rather than something that is going wrong.
We use Skype a lot, it's not unusual to have group IM going at the same time.
One of the people who manages really well themselves, makes a point of IM'ing someone every morning, just for a check in.
It's quite a challenge when you are not working together so that you get to know people naturally over time. Good luck.
I think you need to proactively approach this.
Set the whole team up as a group in your skype contacts, and first thing in the morning every day, send a little Morning all, how you doing?message round.
As a team do you use collaborative working tools, like MS planner/teams/ Asana... where you can work on documents together?
If there are any people in the team that you get on with better, ask if they'll do you a favour and start up an instant Skype session or dial you in on speaker phone for any impromptu get together.
Suggest a team huddle mid week, early morning for everyone to update on what they're doing and raise any tasks they need assistance with etc. Just 15 minutes but gives the opportunity for you to keep up to date.
Some colleagues of mine who work across Europe quite often set up a google hangout video call and leave it open while they work.
They then just chat or ask questions as if they were sat together.
I think arrangements like this can work, but it requires everyone involved to be very good at flex working. It sounds like your team mates aren't used to it - also as you're new to the team to be honest I'd be surprised if they do get used to it because you're not there very much and they haven't had a chance to build relationships with you. It IS harder to do that when you don't see people in person ever.
We had someone in my last team who worked at home pretty much all the time for distance and health reasons - she did get forgotten a lot of the time to be honest. The organisation also wasn't very good at flex working - the video chat didn't really work very well for instance so getting remote people in on impromptu meetings was hard work. I'd also get forgotten/left out on my two regular wfh days!
Where I work now were really good at flexible working. We use Microsoft teams and everyone uses the video chat as if we're meeting in person. We often have impromptu virtual meetings - half the team might be in the office sitting at their desks dialling in, while the other half is at home. It works because we all do it and we put in the effort.
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