Where the Heck is Steve? Telecommuting Etiquette


Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series about workplace etiquette. Click here to read the second post, “Who Just Joined? Conference Call Etiquette

Sean-OBrien-headshotBy Sean O’Brien, Executive Vice President, Strategy and Communications, PGi

Telecommuting, flexible work and remote work are on the rise, and there’s no sign that the train is slowing down. In a recent survey, 80% of our respondents said they have the option to telecommute in some capacity. The technology that empowers easy collaboration and connection from anywhere has become too ubiquitous for organizations (and their employees) to ignore, and the work-life benefits of telecommuting are plain to see.

There are, however, some unique etiquette considerations when it comes to being a part- or full-time telecommuter. Your manager (and coworkers) don’t see you as often. Your work may not be as visible, particularly if you’re working on solo projects. And it can be difficult to build that workplace and team rapport that is so vital to work-life happiness and loyalty.

Thankfully though, we can keep this one simple: we can boil every single telecommuting etiquette tip down to a single word.

That’s right. One word. Not “5 Things You Didn’t Need to Know About Telecommuting – You Won’t Believe #3!” or “Here Are the 15 Reasons Why You’ll Never Successfully Telecommute.”

Just one, solitary word.


Being a successful telecommuter is all about being a successful communicator. You have to proactively communicate the status of the projects you’re working on, any planned meetings and how they’ll be conducted and your overall availability and how you can be reached.

Here are some examples of how actively communicating is key:

  • Send a weekly email to your manager, direct reports or team members updating them on what you’re working on, and asking any questions you may have about their workloads.
  • Have regular virtual meetings with team members where you can get face-to-face with them on webcam, even if the only point of the meeting is to talk about what you did last weekend.
  • Diligently send updates about your availability. If you’re going to be only reachable by email because of a mid-afternoon errand, it’s up to you to let everyone know ahead of time.

Those are just three examples of a myriad of tips and tricks that will make your telecommuting endeavor a success, and help to combat the “Where the heck is Steve?” question that telecommuting doubters will no doubt throw your way.

(I realize that the majority of you probably aren’t named Steve, but here’s hoping that I just blew someone’s mind.)

About the Author: Sean O’Brien is the strategic voice of PGi, managing the company’s internal and external communications, including his role as the primary spokesperson for PGi. He works directly with PGi Chairman and CEO Boland T. Jones, President Ted Schrafft and the executive team to craft and communicate PGi’s vision, strategy and corporate objectives. In addition, Sean is responsible for identifying, analyzing and completing corporate development opportunities, including strategic investments, mergers and acquisitions. 


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