Help a reader out: How to transition from working at home to working in an office

What are  the best ways to go from working at home to working in an office, all while traveling weekly? Reader L asks….chair

I have been working  at  home for about four years now. I also travel  for work two or three times a month. I just got promoted (a good thing!). This new job means I  will be working in our regional office, but still  traveling regularly. I’m excited about the opportunity but nervous about working in an office again after all of this time. I’m also concerned because I’ve  heard  that facetime is very important in this office’s culture. The easiest thing to do is ask my boss, but she is in another office  across the country and is at such a high level we don’t talk often. I’m worried if I start asking questions from Day 1 about how often I have to come in I’ll  look  like a slacker. Do you have any tips for  me?

Congratulations on the promotion! I have traveled for work for almost  a decade (whoa) but have worked at home that entire time. Both have their pros and cons, but I imagine after several years at home the transition to the office  could be tricky. Here are my thoughts.

Find a mentor. Obviously the easiest way to get a read on office  culture is to  ask someone there, and if that’s not your manager then you need to find someone else. Do you know anyone at the office? If so, I would definitely ask them what the norm is for frequent travelers. My concern would be that after late travel nights you would still be expected in the office at 8am–it’s ridiculous (IMO) but not unheard of. One of the best things about working at home flexibility on start times after late nights!

Go into the office on travel days, to start. I would start off by coming in during work hours even on travel days. After you’ve had some time to get acquainted with the culture, you’ll have a better feel for whether that’s expected.

Alert others when you’re out. I used to have a co-worker that traveled frequently but would never turn her out-of-office message on. It made me crazy! This is even more important when your office culture values facetime. Be diligent about using out-of-office on your email as well as leaving physical notes at your desk so your co-workers understand why you’re not immediately available.

Be present online. Sometimes on trips it’s impossible to be online during the day, and  that’s okay (as long as your OOO is on). But if you are able to be available virtually that may help give the illusion of facetime–be on your company’s instant messenger, respond to  emails  in a timely manner, etc.

Readers, any tips for Reader L’s transition?


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