While telecommuters may fantasize about shedding all those work-related, holiday obligations like office parties and secret Santas, unfortunately, they can’t afford to do that. Even more than their counterparts back at the office, people who work from home need to use the holiday season to network and build bonds with their coworkers, supervisors, and clients. This is the time to nurture relationships that don’t benefit from the daily, face-to-face interactions that those who work in the office have.
At the same time, home-based workers need to take extra care to make sure their home lives and professional obligations don’t collide due to the added pressure of the holiday season.
These five simple actions will help you make the most of the holiday season when you work from home.
Attend Holiday Events
When you work at home, do you really need to attend the annual holiday office party or staff luncheon? After all, it’s such a busy time of year, and making a trip to the office is the last thing you want to put on your holiday to-do list. The answer is a resounding yes!
Whether it’s a simple lunch with your closest coworkers, a company-wide holiday party or an event with outside stakeholders or clients, telecommuters should make their best effort to attend any and all holiday events. Even if attendance involves overnight travel, consider carefully before declining. This is the time of year to grow professional relationships. Others are forging new connections and friendships. Don’t let this opportunity slip by.
Participate in Office Gift-Giving
If your coworkers or clients give gifts at the holidays, you should too. It may seem like a burden to join in an office holiday gift exchange when you work at home. You may have to mail your gift or make a special trip into the office to deliver it, but declining to be involved makes you look like Scrooge.
Now, you are under no special added obligation to give gifts just because you work at home. It’s important to know the culture of your workplace and to participate in the same way that everyone else does. If you manage people or you have outside clients, it may be appropriate to give presents outside of a gift exchange. Be sure that you give appropriate business gifts.
Send Cards and Notes
If gift giving isn’t a thing in your office (or even if it is), sending a card or note of appreciation is always a well-received courtesy. The holiday season comes at the end of the year. This makes it an especially appropriate time to look back and express positive observations to your coworkers, clients, and supervisors.
Since you are remote, sending a card through the mail is convenient for you and, at the same time, a nice treat for the receiver. A hand-written, short note will always make more of an impact than an email! Be sure your cards are appropriate for all in a business setting. They don’t have to be holiday themed. In fact, if you make it a New Year’s note, you have more time to get it into the mail.
Know and Respect the Office’s Holiday Schedule
Don’t take liberties with your schedule during the holiday season that your coworkers back at the office can’t. This is a sure way to create resentment. If you do need to take time off during the day, make a request like anyone else would. Don’t sneak out and hope no one will notice.
On the other hand, know what is happening back at the office so that you can take advantage. For instance, if the office closes at noon on Christmas Eve, there’s certainly no reason you should continue working. This is one reason it pays to nurture those relationships with people back at the office. There’s nothing more disappointing for telecommuters to find they've been forgotten and that everyone’s gone home and didn’t bother to let them know.
Make Plans for Child Care
If you are a work-at-home parent of a school-age child, you will need to make arrangements for childcare when Christmas vacation begins. Don’t figure that during the busiest month of the year you can multitask your way through watching children and keeping up with your professional obligations.