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Telecommuter Tales: How to Annoy a Telecommuter

As a telecommuter, are there a few things you’d like to tell office co-workers?

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Being able to communicate well by phone or email is an important trait for the effective telecommuter. But communication is a two-way street. Could your office co-workers use a few pointers on how to communicate with a telecommuter? Here are a few telecommuter pet peeves. If you have more, add them at the end.

When working with a telecommuter, please don’t….

Leave in mid conversation.

Email is the telecommuter’s lifeline. If you’re having a conversation via email with a telecommuter, don’t just head home for the day without ending the conversation. This doesn’t mean you have to hang out waiting for an answer. A simple note saying you’re heading home will suffice. That way the telecommuter isn’t constantly checking for your reply.

Assume a telecommuter is not working as hard as you are.

Yes, a telecommuter should be held to the same standards as everyone else in the office. But in most workplaces those standards are measured by the worker's output. Just because someone did pick up the phone when you called, that doesn't mean he or she is goofing off.

Assume a telecommuter is always working, even during non-business hours.

In some corporate cultures, calling co-workers on weekends and evening is common. But if it’s not where you work, don’t make an exception for a telecommuter. Just because someone works from home, that doesn’t mean he or she likes to be called during personal hours any more than anyone else.

Forget to inform a telecommuter colleague about decisions and announcements.

If you change a meeting time when you run into a colleague in an elevator, be sure to inform the telecommuter who was going to call in for the meeting. Give him or her the courtesy of weighing in on the decision too, if possible and appropriate. And don’t wait until the last minute, tell the telecommuter as soon as you tell everyone else.

Send cryptic emails, texts or voicemails.

One word answers without the previous email attached force the telecommuter to search through old emails, wasting time and effort. Or if you add someone into an email conversation that’s already going, forward previous email so he or she can catch up.
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