Hold the phone. With the rise of technology, telecommuting has increased 103% nationally since 2005, based on Census data analyzed by Global Workplace Analytics.
Working from home—or anywhere outside an official office—has obvious benefits for both employee and employer. Companies save money by reducing real estate and utility expenditures; plus, they’re able to attract top talent by promoting themselves as flexible. Employees get the benefits of being able to work from pretty much anywhere with an Internet connection, even if that means by the beach, and often have more control over their schedules as well.
But should millennials who want their work to get noticed and be promoted quickly work from home when given the choice? Do a few minutes of Skype per day make up for the lack of in-office presence? They can, if you’re strategic . . .
According to Nenad Cuk, 27, an SEO specialist at Davinci Virtual, a virtual office solutions company based in Salt Lake City, young professionals need to first earn their stripes in the office before they can consider working from home. “Once you have proven yourself and are trusted to take projects on your own from beginning to completion,” he says, “then I think someone my age can think about telecommuting as an option.”
This makes sense. It takes time to build trust at a new company and if you’re not around for face time with supervisors and team members, that may never happen (or it will take much longer than if you were working in-house). The extra effort to make the commute will be worth it in the long run.
If you do work from home, face time with the boss will most likely decrease, even with video conferencing technology. That means that you have to make more of an effort to promote your success within your team and to your boss. You’ll have to find a way to do this that you feel comfortable with, but one way would be to ask your boss for a weekly one-on-one meeting in which you can report your plans, progress, and wins. You might also try to organize meetings for yourself with key peers or teams. Try to participate in at least 50% of the meetings that you’re invited to—even by chiming in with a simple comment or support for a peer—as people will forget to call on someone on the phone.
Don’t forget that being liked is a very important part of getting ahead: If you’re not friendly with your coworkers, they might not include you in critical projects or even clue you in to gossip that’s useful to your career (like the first alert that the person one rung up is quitting). That’s why millennials who work from home need to budget time to catch up with coworkers about life in general—this will only make working together easier.
“Schedule Google hangout calls with your team to catch up and see how things are going,” says Janice Omadeke, certified project management professional and founder of The Mentor Method, a platform for women to meet mentors based in Washington, D.C. “Make sure to tell them that this call is not to talk about work but to have conversation similar to what you would have after a long weekend with your cubicle neighbor.”
Alternately, simply use the first five minutes of any call with a coworker to ask them about life. And make sure to attend the department happy hours when you can. All work and no play makes you a dull coworker!
What happens when you work from home and can’t walk around the corner to your boss’s desk to ask her to clarify something? You have to be much more efficient when you communicate.
“Conference calls and Skype chats aren’t an exact match for personal meetings, but working in a shared space also means more time to chat and waste time,” says Leslie June, a web developer and senior marketing consultant at Bitcookie, a digital creative studio based in Asheville, North Carolina. “Distance makes for efficiency. You have to learn to consolidate your ideas clearly and concisely via email or for a phone call.”
For example, it can help to have an agenda for a phone meeting, and to follow up afterward with concrete next steps or points agreed upon to make sure no one was drifting off in the call. You also have to know which meetings are better served with face time—brainstorming sessions, for example. And try to be at the ones that your boss’s boss will be at so that you look present and accountable.
Bottom line: After you’ve been at your company for a little while, you can make a work-from-home arrangement work—just as long as the people in-house don’t become strangers.
This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.