Category: Soft Skills

As a gatekeeper, your role is just what it sounds like: you have to "guard" your office, your supervisor and the rest of the members of your staff. While it may sometimes be useful to hear sales pitches and other presentations from companies and individuals who want to sell your company products or services, many businesses make a habit of "cold calling" potential clients. While sometimes this results in a sale, it also can completely demolish a carefully planned schedule and keep your employer from getting things done that really must be done. As a gatekeeper, you must sometimes keep those salespeople at bay - literally - by identifying them before they move past you and start their pitch to your boss.

For starters, be aware that not all salespeople are "evil." They are just doing their jobs like anyone else. However, some salespeople will try to trick their way into an audience. For example, they may ask for your employer by his or her first name, as if they are personal acquaintances. It may be tempting to simply forward on someone who appears to be on a first-name basis, but this is a common trick. Make sure you identify the person calling and clear them before sending them on.

Next, be kind but firm. If your boss does not take sales calls, period, then do not tell a salesperson that he or she could call them back. Simply state firmly that your company does not handle sales in this manner. Be polite but do not bend. If you sound like you might change your mind, then you convey the message that another call a different time might yield different results. If your boss or someone else in the company does handle sales, but in a scheduled fashion, then it is perfectly fine to firmly set a time for the salesperson to call back and speak to someone.

Being a gatekeeper is not always easy. Sometimes you will feel like the "bad guy" because people trying to get past you may feel frustrated and take that out on you. However, you can rest assured that you are doing the best that you can do for your boss and your company if you are sticking to company policy and keeping the gates up when necessary.

Category: Miscellaneous

Most of us like to restrict our work to a single area of our houses, offices or our lives - specifically to our desks in most cases. However, as the world becomes more mobile and we have more and more options about how and where we work, the idea of working only at a desk is fast becoming outdated. You need to be able to work away from your desk in order to get the most out of your workday and to give yourself better flexibility in your working life.

At first, it may take some practice. I know that I grew up in a household where homework was done at a desk rather than on the floor, at the kitchen table or even outside. You did your work at your desk, then you left that area in order to enjoy the other areas with the family. It was a way to keep work and work materials contained. While this sounds good in theory, this kind of background made it nearly impossible for me to work anywhere other than in a quiet environment with a desk or table for many years. I could not work on planes, and even had trouble in libraries. I needed isolation and utter silence. If you have similar workspace habits, be patient with yourself. Start out working in slightly uncomfortable places like a coffee shop before you attempt working in the food court at the mall, for example.

Additionally, keep the work that you are doing in mind when you work away from your desk. Remember that not all internet connections are secure. There may be some things that you simply should not "take away" from the office even if you would rather be working elsewhere. Being aware of your environment - but also able to tune it out - will help you determine what types of work you can do away from your desk and also what types of work are appropriate for out-of-office focus. You will love the flexibility that being able to work away from your desk gives you, so definitely give it a shot!