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81. Follow-Up for Best Results

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166

81

101 Tips for Telecommuters

Follow-Up for

Best Results

As a telecommuter, you are a prime candidate for developing absolutely superb follow-up skills. Since you need to work with and through so many other people—colleagues, vendors, co-workers, suppliers, team members, contractors, managers—to accomplish your goals, expert follow-up skills can be essential to your ultimate success. When you hone these skills for use, especially with your external partners, it conveys a sense of significance to their work, communicates its importance to you, and clearly establishes a standard of excellence for the way in which you manage and value your work.

Well-planned and consistent follow-up behavior is not a license to micro-manage. Nothing will frustrate and demoralize your external partners faster than excessive hands-on management from you that feels and looks like high-control interference in their work.

Rather, your project planning should establish clear expectations

(Tip 71) regarding milestones and checkpoints. Your role is to use these checkpoints as guideposts for your follow-up. Doing so should ensure (provided the project planning is sound) that you have adequate opportunity to monitor progress toward goals without overburdening yourself with the minutiae of a project or task. For example, checking in with a program developer who’s designing a training program for you is useful if you do so at key milestones such as:

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37. “Take Your Children to Work” Guidelines

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77

Working Well with Your Family

• If you must be on the phone, be sure you either disclose the situation to your caller or you are highly skilled in the lightningspeed use of the MUTE button on your phone.

• If your child still takes naps, utilize this quiet time to the greatest extent possible for phone time or focused work time.

• Designate a dedicated space and, if possible, a spare computer

(Tip 37) in the office for kids to use.

• Have toys, games, whiteboard and markers, paper, crayons, and other creative play activities readily available. Involve your kids in some age-appropriate activity that enables them to help you or feel that they’re helping, and remember that even toddlers love to sort and organize. One of my telecommuting friends keeps a VCR in his office (since he’s a trainer), along with his trusty assortment of Disney videos for times when his children are in his office.

If you have children or have occasion for children to visit your office, check your inventory of resources and activities you can make available quickly to keep little people entertained/distracted in your office. If your current options are limited, put together a KID box now; you’re likely to really thank yourself at some point in the future.

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92. Skip the Massage—Get a Headset

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196

101 Tips for Telecommuters

planning and exercising control over how you respond to everything that rings or beeps, you’ll be relegated to days of incessant interruptions demanding reactive and frantic responses. This will not only exhaust and frustrate you, it will also compromise your success as a telecommuter and undermine your attainment of the personal and business goals you chose to pursue as a telecommuter.

And it should go without needing a mention (except that another reminder probably won’t hurt), it remains your responsibility to either shut everything off or close the door to your office or ignore anything in your office that rings or beeps when it’s time to set work aside. The eternal quest for balance (Tip 6) gets no easier as the technology to access you improves. Only now, you need to manage both your need for balance and the technology that can threaten it.

➠ Review the various ways your work flow is interrupted by calls, messages, and other electronic demands for your attention.

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B. Telecommuting Resource Guide

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237

Telecommuting Resource Guide

For road warriors: efax.com www.efax.com

Mobile Computing

Mobile Insights

www.mobilecomputing.com

www.mobileinsights.com/mobileletter.html

Road Warrior International

www.warrior.com

For telecommuting job seekers:

Telecommuting Jobs

The Mining Co.

www.tjobs.com

www.telecommuting.about.com/msub3.htm

Office Supplies/Services

Kinko’s

www.kinkos.com

Mailboxes Etc.

800.2KINKOS

www.mbe.com

800.789.4MBE

Office Depot

www.officedepot.com

Pitney Bowes

www.pitneybowes.com/soho

Office Equipment Outlet

OfficeMax

Staples

888.GO-DEPOT

www.oeo.com

www.officemax.com

www.staples.com

800.5Pitney

800.553.2112

800.283.7674

800.3STAPLE

Express/Shipping Services

Airborne Express

Federal Express

www.airborne.com www.fedex.com

U.S. Postal Service

800.AIRBORNE

800.GoFedEx

www.usps.gov

DHL Worldwide Express

United Parcel Service

www.dhl.com

www.ups.com

800.CALL-DHL

800.PICK-UPS

Information Services

Federal government statistics

Information Please

www.infoplease.com

Virtual Reference Desk

Roget’s Thesaurus

Hoover’s

www.fedstats.gov

www.refdesk.com

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70. Select Service Providers that Meet Your Criteria

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144

101 Tips for Telecommuters

• Don’t buy a postage meter if you use e-mail extensively or primarily require the services of package shippers and express delivery providers. Be sure to at least have, though, a postage scale and stamps in various denominations to use as needed.

• Don’t waste money on a videoconference system if no one else in your company will have one. If audioconferencing is the primary mode of team communication in your organization, spend your money on a phone with all the bells and whistles, along with a top-quality headset.

Think about the equipment resources in your office:

$ Are there any that don’t have high enough usage levels to justify keeping them?

$ Should you purchase anything you’re currently leasing?

Regarding services you currently buy:

$ Are there any services (printing, copying, document production) you currently buy at such volume that it’s cost-justifiable to purchase equipment and bring the capability in-house? (Can your office support that?)

$ Are there any services you’re currently purchasing that should be re-bid by multiple vendors to be sure you’re getting the best price and service?

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