Once & For All People: Telecommuting is Not Slacking!

As someone who has been doing this for almost 12 years, I can honestly say that I spend more time at work than any cube jockey in my field.

This comes as a shock to most Old School managers, as they feel that if someone is not under their direct gaze, they are off goofing off. If you are in Sales, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you are a Sales Engineer, you already know why, so let me explain why this is so for the rest of you. There is a reason why Sales Engineers telecommute:

  1. Sales personnel are Performance Compensated. “Huh?”, I hear you say. Performance Compensation is what makes all things in Sales happen. A few examples:
    1. It weeds out the lazy/incompetent for you. If you don’t perform, you don’t get paid, and eventually you are asked to leave, as the company can no longer afford you. IOW, you are not earning your salary.
    2. Even if I could sleep 24/7, I wouldn’t. If I do nothing, then nothing gets done. This means that, just like the above, inactivity does not pay the bills, nor does it make me sit well with my VP Sales and CEO. Another way to look at it is that I can’t blame my reps, but they can blame me. We are seen as the point where “the buck stops”. No excuses. Whatever it takes. You don’t have to look after someone who is Performance Compensated because among others, their spouse is reminding them.
    3. It fosters and reinforces teamwork and cooperation. “OK, Pat. I think you’ve taken it a little too far, there.” Not so! From experience, Sales Support that is salary is virtually dismissed by the reps. But if you are comp’d on the deal as they are, you are seen as having “skin in the game”. You aren’t mentioning an idea just because it would be interesting (which would confuse the deal and lose the account). Far from it, you are mentioning only what is needed to close the deal. Why? Because that’s the only way you get paid! Others in the company soon realize that you are only “bothering” them because your work is directly responsible for their salaries.
  2. Being “at work” includes far more time that you may realize. The time I spend overnight away from my family and flying/driving all over creation to get in front of customers and prospects is time on the clock. I can’t jump from my trans-Atlantic flight to London at 5:00pm because I’ll miss my soap operas. There is an easy test to see if you are still on the clock: Can you leave at will-right now? No? Then you’re on the clock. This can ruin relationships and marriages. Fact.
  3. Talent can be hired from a vast pool of resources. No longer do companies have to be in expensive, dangerous metros in order to be in commuting distance of talent. That talent-and the company HQ-can be anywhere. I often work for companies that have a <some location> Branch Office, which is just one of my reps’ house/P.O. Box & cell phone. Employers can now advertise nationally for very specific talent, and have realistic expectations of getting it!
  4. Those few times we are home, we are at work.A good telecommuting friend of mine, who lives in Eastern Connecticut but works for a NYC bank, once told me his work schedule looks like Tetris. In other words, people schedule meetings, conference calls, demos and sales calls at everyone’s convenience but mine. I have even had reps overbook me for their meeting, claiming that theirs was more important. This means across many, many timezones.
  5. The Family thinks when you’re home, you’re not working, too! Work for you is normally shielded from the kids & wife. You leave & come back. In between you could have that other family across town that thinks you work 2nd shift. In the Sales Engineer’s world, our families might see us at weird times-like during the day. Since they only do fun things with the family when you’re home, it is a logical conclusion that you are there to do fun things! We also get it from our spouses, who will claim “Now that you’re here, I have a list of errands and chores for you”. We fight this a lot, and even my spouse slips into that mode once in a while. The great Ernie Kovacs had this problem in his home writing studio. His solution was to hand a sign on the door of his study that read simply “Not Now.”

So the next time someone says “Gee, I wish I had your job. You never go to work!”, sit them down and review how many hours you spent at work in the past month compared to them.

And for you Old School managers who still can’t get past it, look at it this way; We can’t steal stationary supplies this way!

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