For the century that England ruled one-quarter of the world, the Royal Navy would regularly dispatch frigates to the Empire’s far corners. Ships visited the smallest of colonies or territories, sometimes to quell rebellions or combat piracy, but mostly to remind folks who ran the show. Hence the phrase “show the flag.”
As a telecommuter, depending on your office setup, it’s a good idea for you to “show the flag” every once in a while. Not to fight pirates of course, but to remind your coworkers who you are and the role you play on the team.
You’re probably saying “But I’m on the phone all day, I’ve got email and outstanding performance reviews- why do I need to go to the main office?” Simply put- as human beings we cherish actual human interaction. Unless your main office is utterly dysfunctional (normal corporate peccadilloes do not count as dysfunction, by the way), it’s a good idea to occasionally show up, schedule some meetings and basically engage in the daily interactions of a normal office dweller.
Showing up allows you to temporarily tap into office sub currents of knowledge that keep things moving forward. How’s the new VP for Sales stacking up? How’s Jane’s promotion panning out? All these questions can be more appropriately (and accurately) addressed in the casual, un-official banter that is a normal byproduct of office life.
Moreover, by showing up once in awhile, you’ll remind your peers and most importantly, your superiors of why you were given the privilege to work remotely in the first place. Some quick tips…
1. Visit during the first or third quarters of your business cycle. In the first quarter, you’ll
generally be in the planning/implementation stage of any enterprise-a perfect time for face-to-face strategy meetings. In the third quarter, you’ll be (hopefully) finishing up a successful year and planning for the next year- again, a great time for “face-time”.
2. Avoid visiting during holidays or the summertime. During holiday periods, people are more interested in parties. During the summer, many people are on vacation. Hit the office when every worker bee is in the hive.
3. Keep visits short and productive. Show up early, stay late but don’t linger. You don’t want people to become so attached to your presence that they’ll question your telecommuting privileges.
4. Arrange some social time. Happy hours and long lunches allow you to engage your coworkers, even your supervisors, in some crucial one-on-one in a casual setting.
Finally, treat your visit as a mini-vacation. Stay the weekend, enjoy the town or city you’re office is located in. You’ll return refreshed, having left a good impression (we hope!) and most importantly, you’ll have “shown the flag.”