Does Telecommunting or Working At Home Hurt Your Career?

According to a new study by Professors, Kimberly Elsbach of the University of California, Davis, and Daniel Cable of London Business School, it does.

A new study suggests workers are judged harshly for not showing up at the office. Despite advances in teleworking, smartphones, and Skype, face time, it seems, really does matter.

Getty Images
Working from home might not work for you.

Professors, Kimberly Elsbach of the University of California, Davis, and Daniel Cable of London Business School, looked at perceptions of employees’ performance based on whether they were in the office or not. The research measured “passive face time,” which is simply time spent in the office, regardless of whether the staffer is working hard or not.

The results aren’t pretty for employees who would rather work remotely, according to an article Elsbach and Cable wrote in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Workers who are seen at their desks during regular work hours are considered “responsible” and “dependable,” they wrote: “Just being seen at work, without any information about what you’re actually doing, leads people to think more highly of you.”

Work longer hours — early, late, or on weekends — and “rather than just being considered dependable, you can get upgraded to ‘committed’ and ‘dedicated,’” according to the article, which referenced a paper Elsbach and Cable published in the academic journal Human Relations.

Bosses, and peers, often don’t realize they’re forming views of workers’ competence based on whether they’re at their desk, Cable said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

“Without us knowing it, we are creating these assumptions about people based on physical presence,” he said. This isn’t just a perception. Bosses’ vague feelings that a worker does a better job can be seen on employee evaluations, especially when they’re encouraged to make subjective calls in performance reviews.

That leads to pay, promotion, and career-trajectory decisions. Cable estimates that more than 60% of companies are still using “1950s-style” evaluations that prioritize such subjective write-ups over hard data on sales wins, customer satisfaction, or other measures of the employee’s business performance.

So what can employees do to counter this pigeonholing, especially those who want to work from home?

If working long hours from the office isn’t an option, employees might consider sending emails early in the morning or late at night, to prove they are on the job at all times. They might also try using their time in the office to build strong connections to co-workers and superiors, like going to lunch with people or organizing in-person meetings?

Meanwhile, managers should be aware that they may be discounting remote workers’ contributions, albeit subconsciously. (Or, they may be monitoring their home-based workers, as The Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger writes.)

“The bottom line is that employees should be wary of work arrangements that reduce their office face time, and supervisors should be wary of using trait-based performance measures, especially when evaluating remote workers,” the article said. “Finally, employees working remotely need to make sure they are evaluated on objective outputs. Barring that, you might consider sending an e-mail to your boss tonight . . . say, around midnight.”

YOU ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE PROMOTED ALSO

According to an MIT study by the Sloan Management Review, you are less likely to get ahead:

The millions of Americans who are skipping out on the daily commute may also be losing out on a promotion.

These so-called ‘telecommuters’ are less likely to receive positive performance reviews from superiors than their colleagues who show up in the office, a new study by MIT Sloan Management Review shows.

The report chalks up much of the discrepancy to managerial subjectivity. Managers are less likely to be comfortable with a worker they don’t actually see on a regular basis. In fact, they may become more irritated with someone who they perceive isn’t available at all times. Telecommuting employees are also less likely to reap the benefits of showing up early and leaving work late than their commuting coworkers.

Advances in Internet technology have allowed for telecommuting to become more widespread. About 20 percent of workers worldwide report that they telecommute, while 10 percent report that they work from home on a regular basis, according to a recent Ipsos/Reuters poll. That same poll found that 34 percent of workers, when asked, stated that they would telecommute on a regular basis if they could.

But according to some critics, telecommuting creates cause for concern. For instance, telecommuting could prevent workers from being able to fully understand what their managers ask of them, according to PCWorld. That’s because non-verbal facial expressions are an important component of the workplace that telecommuting, which often takes place over instant messaging or phone, doesn’t allow.

But this doesn’t excuse managers from giving otherwise stellar employees poor reviews just because they telecommute, Daniel Cable of London Business School and co-author of the MIT Sloan report told The Wall Street Journal. Approximately 60 percent of firms still use highly subjective employee review standards that prioritize manager write-ups over hard data, Cable told WSJ. This often results in managers promoting sub par employees over superior candidates that telecommute.

STACKED REVIEWS

Most corporations are using stacked reviews.  This obviously pits employees against each other rather than trying to beat the competition.  Stay at home employees are working at a disadvantage here as the in office workers can brown nose their way to places that home workers can’t.  Here’s how it works.

Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE, BAD OFFICE MEMO OF THE YEAR

At IBM, if you don’t go to New York, you don’t get ahead.  That is where the club is. The current Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications said that Raleigh was “Smallville with no chance of going anyone going anywhere if you stay here” at a town-hall meeting with all the communications folks in attendance.  Jaws were dropping all over the floor and it was the topic of conversation for days. This was after he gave a speech that was supposed to be about communications careers, but was just an obviously recycled presentation that had been given to a different audience about EPS.  Everyone saw through it and no one got why he came to un”motivate” the troops.  IBM’s current vice president of external relations publicly made fun of the south as if NY was the mecca of IQ on a global call of all Comms folks.  Everyone mentioned how short sighted this was and what a limited view of what different populations worldwide had to offer (there were multiple IM sessions going on around the world on this clear example of prejudice and ego centrism).  Despite their high salaries, we are the smart ones spending more time with our kids and paying over 30% less in cost of living.  Plus we don’t have to live in New York and work with them especially since this guy yells and cusses you out way more than HR should allow.

I personally turned down 2 offers to move to NY to get ahead.  I’d been there many times and knew the unofficial rules that you had to be there to get anywhere.  I didn’t want to raise my kids there and my family was more important to me  than a job.  Because of that, I was labeled someone who didn’t want to climb the ladder which was fine by me, so I worked in the pack and was passed over for promotions after that.  My family is much better off having grown up where we wanted to live and I don’t regret it a minute.  My kids are killing the NY public school kids at college.  Plus, I would never send them to a den of socialism like Columbia or any other schools up there.  I need them to get a real education.

But the fact remains, you run a severe risk of not getting ahead if you don’t show up at the office.  Many will be able come up with some successful work at home employee story, but only to a certain level…. then you have to be in their face at the office.  Either way, it is expected that you’ll check into work at all hours of the night and weekends anyway.

There was one manager in a group I worked for that sent out a “rules of the road” memo (bad office memo of the year) that said if you weren’t working in the office, you weren’t considered really working.  Talk about generating trust on your team! He was viewed by his peers as the worst manager of the entire group, I was just lucky to have had the experience of working with him.

OFFICE COOLER TALK

You do miss out on hall meetings that allow you to find out things home workers miss.  It allows you to get ahead of the telecommuters on the first news or get into the executives office at a moments notice.  That is a drawback, but not enough to call me in.  When they sold the building I was working in and asked who wanted to be a home worker, my hand was up faster than Arnold Horshack to get out of there.

The flip side is you have to hear all the office gossip which I was glad to miss.  It is too distracting and usually it is never good about anyone, only what they are doing wrong, who is sleeping with whom or what some are getting away with.

Some people need the social interaction and have to be in the office for people contact.  I’m perfectly happy to miss that as most of it is idle banter that takes away from productivity.  I also don’t miss the hour commute.

Overall, I wouldn’t trade the home office for a cubicle anywhere, anytime. Being at home has more perks.

Happy Birthday to My Dog

It is now a year later and my dog  is 12  today.  The average lifespan of Boxer according to my vet is “around” 8-10 years, so I’m living on borrowed time.

I named her after the dog in Jonny Quest because she had a black face like the dog in the cartoon.

Since I’ve worked at home the whole time we’ve had her, she has been my day pal.  Now that my son has gone off to college, she is definitely my dog and I’m very attached to her.

Recently, I watched Marley and Me and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.  Fortunately, she is still full of energy and looks like she’ll be around for a while.

I’ve posted about her over the years, some of them being the most read entries I’ve written.

After the story of Shoep and John here is the link I am especially sensitive to her longevity and day to day life.  She has had cancer surgery and still has the energy to love my family, although she is especially attached to me.  It is mutual.

Here are some of the best of links:

Her surgery

Dogs are good for your heart

It’s a Dog’s Life

Boxer Rebellion

July 4th 2012, Top Posts Round-up

First of all if you read the dates on the gravestone, Happy Birthday Mom.

So it’s Independence Day, declared in 1776 from the rest of the World.  The USA has in its short life (compared with other countries) given more to others in benevolence, freed and saved more people, helped former enemies to recover, sacrificed more than others and established a new way of running a country other than a Monarchy.  Unlike the Monarchy’s around the world, the land wasn’t taken from others in a border dispute war or outright takeover like those we declared freedom from….. and has contributed more development, medicine and technology than most other countries combined.  So why are our leaders trying to run it in a way that has failed?

Ronald Reagan said, “The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”

Most of this is a blessing from our Creator, mentioned in all the documents of the Founding Fathers, yet the government of today is trying to leave that model and get back to the type of behavior we declared independence from.  Why?

First, let’s start off with the Star Spangled Banner.

Here is a round-up of the best posts for today.

Michelle Malkin – Happy 236th Birthday

John Ransom – Washington’s First Fourth

America joining the One World Crappola from the Daily Kos instead of celebrating why we are different (see our Judeo-Christian history) I tried finding something patriotic just for fairness, but it’s just a different world view I guess

America Haters from the Usual sources, Hollywierd

The other America Haters – The Media

Paul Greenberg – The American Idea

Rasmussen poll – Liberty and Justice for all

Speaker Boehner’s Independence Day Tribute: “Here’s to the Spirit of ‘76”

Joshpundit – America’s Birthday Edition (lots of links here)

Robert Samuelson – Love of Country 2012

Fleming: What Life Was Like in 1776

For levity, The Hot Dog eating contest where an American is the favorite

Finally, here is the Declaration of Independence, from tyranny and taxes.  Have we come full circle?

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long-established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

9 Things Successful People Do Differently

Some people are better than others for certain reasons.   Some are more political, better trained, work harder and so forth.  I read this and it is a good summary of how to be more successful.

Via the Havard Business Review:

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist.
When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit.
Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist, and author of the new book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). She is also an expert blogger on motivation and leadership for Fast Company and Psychology Today. Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at www.heidigranthalvorson.com. Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist and author of the HBR Single Nine Things Successful People Do Differently and the book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at www.heidigranthalvorson.com. Dr. Halvorson is available for speaking and training. Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson.