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Staying on the boss's radar

One of the biggest concerns people have about working from home is how to stay in the loop with their boss.

It's a legitimate issue.

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Out of sight, can quickly mean out of mind. Before you know it, no one remembers what you look like - much less that you spent a month working 60-hour weeks to meet a deadline for the company's biggest client.

But staying on the radar screen requires some deft communication skills - on the part of the manager as well as the employee.

"I encourage daily conversation," says Bob Kudla, director of marketing and business development for Ceridian Small Business Solutions based in Minneapolis.

Mr. Kudla, who has been telecommuting from his home in Laguna Niguel, Calif., for five years, also manages other telecommuters.

"If they don't call me, I call them," he says. "Not to check up on them," but to let them know that he's available.

It also helps to have a point person in the office who can keep you abreast of the important meetings, memos, and office politics.

Robert Moskowitz, president of the 100,000-member American Telecommuting Association in Washington (who himself telecommutes from Los Angeles), calls it the "buddy system." "That eliminates a lot of the falling out," he says.

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Still, the majority of telecommuters don't work from home five days a week. In fact most consultants don't recommend working from home fulltime.

"Spending five days a week at home has as many potential problems as forcing everyone to spend five days a week at the office," says Gil Gordon, a telecommuting consultant based in Monmouth Junction, N.J. "Even if the job could be done that way, I'm fearful that it would tear apart the social fabric of the office. I want telecommuters to still feel like they belong to something."

Still, for those concerned that it could hurt your career, stop worrying.

"I consistently hear from managers just the opposite," says Mr. Gordon. "That people who telecommute become more promotable and more employable because they've had a chance to develop some important skills."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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