“Q&A with the Career Coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year Human Resources veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below:
Q: In light of our current environment, there’s a lot of discussion today about the advantages of working from home. What are the benefits for an employee who wants to return to the office?
A: While working from home has many advantages starting with not having to commute, working in an office environment also has several advantages for some employees. To begin with, in an office you are normally around people with whom you can make friends and socialize, and unless you are a total recluse, this is a major positive.
Working in an office can increase your motivation, especially when you have people around you who create a positive environment to work in; working at home alone can be boring and reduce motivation.
An office setting can also help to reduce distractions whether it be family, friends, or the many chores that need to be done around the house. Your discipline can also improve, because you have to wake up every day and be somewhere at a specific time.
The office can also improve your managerial skills by having to attend meetings in person, speaking directly to senior managers, all the while improving your network.
Lastly, if you are looking for career advancement and opportunity within the hierarchy of a corporation, an office environment is definitely for you.
Q: During the COVID shutdown, I’ve had a lot more telephone interviews, and as a result, have a long list of positive actions to take to handle this style of interview. I wondered if you had a list of actions I should try to avoid?
A: Good question. First, make sure your answering machine greeting is professional; the last thing you want an interviewer to hear is that you’re at a party and will call them when you return. Reduce any background noise. For example, a café is not a good place to take an interview call.
While you may have a small glass of water nearby in case your mouth goes dry mid call, in general, don’t eat or drink while taking part in a telephone interview.
Avoid taking other calls or responding to texts. If you are on a land line, switch off your mobile, or if you’re on your mobile, switch off your land line or move to another room. Resist the urge to multitask by checking emails or checking your Facebook page. Focus only on the person at the other end of the line.
Lastly, try not to be too laid back, literally. Don’t slouch in your couch or chair, as doing so will make you sound less alert.