By Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
You may have spent several years working your way toward a corner office only to discover there aren't any offices -- at all.
As disappointing as this may be, if you want to continue to succeed in this or any economic climate, adaptability and flexibility are key. Embracing nontraditional work arrangements (e.g., consulting and telecommuting) as well as nontraditional work environments that feature touchdown stations rather than dedicated desks are essential to your professional ascent.
Use these tips to survive and thrive in a nontraditional work environment.Scope Out a Space
Alexandra Levit, a business and workplace author and speaker, advises off-site workers without a home office to create a space to call their own. "This might mean staking out a regular table at your local Starbucks or library," she says. "It's important for your emotional well-being and productivity to have a place to work with minimal distractions."
Insulate Yourself When You're Out in the Open
If you find yourself sitting in a different place each day, moving around often, carry some comforts with you, such as headphones and a sweater, to help you adapt wherever you are asked to work. "An iPod with familiar music that is mellow enough that you can work to it can provide a temporary barrier to interruptions," says leadership expert and consultant Stever Robbins.
Watch What You Say
Remember that loose lips can sink ships -- and careers. "When you don't have an office, you have to assume that others are listening when you talk," says Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something's Guide to the Business World. " If you know you have to have a chat you don't want others to overhear, book a conference room or take a walk outside with your cellphone."
Create a Virtual Office
Robbins recommends, "Use online collaboration tools, such as Basecamp, to keep your work online yet accessible from any of your mobile locations. Understand the security implications, however, if you are working on sensitive data."
Levit agrees that you should look online for support. "When you don't have a dedicated office space in which to store things, there's no place like the Web with its free tools you can access anywhere," she says.
Don't Forget Face Time
Levit reminds mobile workers that just because they don't have dedicated office space doesn't mean they're not a part of the team. "Make an effort to attend meetings in person, especially if you're giving a presentation or a status report," she says. " And, maintain your coworker and manager relationships by inviting those individuals to coffee or lunch."