The Web Worker’s Client Site Survival Guide

While many of us love working in our home office or other alternative venue of choice there will often be times when your projects take you to a client site for an extended period of time. I’ve spent time on and off client sites for a majority of my career, and know it can be difficult for some workers who are used to working from home.

This post offers up a refresher on some client site etiquette in case you find yourself rusty on it as you find yourself making the trudge back to a client site for the short or long term.

  • Observe your client’s IT security standards at all times. While many of us take extra pains to secure our home office network and computers from viruses, hackers and malware, you aren’t in charge of IT security once you are on site. So make sure that you receive information from your client about IT security standards that are in place. Unfortunately, this may mean your personal laptop needs to stay in its bag while you rely on client issue equipment.
  • Dress the part. My home office dress code in the warm months is a T-shirt and cargo shorts. Colder months my home office dress code changes to jeans and fleece. When you take up residence on a client site, don’t forget to dress the part. Ask about any dress code in place before day one.
  • Take advantage of face time. While some people may say that face time with a client is overrated, I believe that it can only benefit you, your client, and the project by helping you both forge a more trusting relationship. Not every organization is ready to hire remote web workers, but the first steps toward an off-site engagement often take place during an on-site project where relationship and trust building can take place. This is also a time for you to show yourself off as a self-sufficient worker — just the kind of worker who can function off-site –and deliver on projects without a lot of supervision.
  • Plan for other client communications. If you have multiple clients, being on a client site might make you feel isolated from the rest of your business. So be prudent and ensure that you have your communications with other clients prearranged before you step onto a client site for an extended engagement. For example, if you use your mobile phone as your business line, you are already one step ahead. However, I recommend you scope out some “rabbit holes,” where you can make and take calls privately while on site. Another rule of thumb is to never let communicating with your other clients interfere with your on-site work.
  • Consider the benefits. While spending time in a cubicle might seem like a sentence worse than death for many of us web workers, it can offer all of us valuable insights into our client’s organization, including identifying the politics, power players, and dynamics which may not be apparent via email, IM session, web conference or conference call. So take advantage of your on-site time to learn as much as you can about these organizational dynamics.

Have you spent time on a client site since going independent? Share your favorite survival tips below.

Image by stock.xchng user:  a_kartha.