Who: Clarence Hinkins
What: Hinkins is a field service representative/class two, for Florida City Gas. He mostly works on above ground gas lines. He sets up new service; goes on response calls to handle leak or emergency calls. He repairs and installs meters, for a region spanning Miramar in southern Broward County south to Homestead.
Like most of his field-based colleagues since 2006, Hinkins is home-based, or mobile. His vehicle is his office and workstation.
To communicate with customers and his bosses, Hinkins use his laptop computer and mobile phone. To map out site visits, Hinkins uses a GPS global positioning system.
Hinkins appreciates the freedom and autonomy. "There's a certain level of trust that makes me want to do a good job," said Hinkins. "
The back story: Hinkins started with the company 13 years ago as an apprentice/utility technician. It's been a nurturing environment: the company grows its employees by mentoring, training and promoting from within, he says.
Evaluations and feedback are an integral part of growing employees, says Hinkins. Field supervisors ride along. There are weekly meetings convened over the phone and through conference calls. Larger staff meetings are held at the Hialeah headquarters. Conference calls keep everyone on the team in the loop, says Hinkins.
Fluid communications and strong leadership provide guidance and vision, says Hinkins.
"We have gotten to the point that everyone works so well together that there is always someone to help mitigate the workflow just a phone call away," said Hinkins
Hinkin's home-based employee best practices
Be trustworthy. Employers shouldn't have to micromanage, says Hinkins. Be honest and reach out for help, ask questions. "It's about integrity, serving the customer and satisfying the boss," he said. "Be on time, stay on task."
Communicate. There are no shortcuts to keeping everyone in the loop says Hinkins. "Stay in contact with employees, supervisors and customers," said Hinkins. "It ensures everyone that someone is handling the situation."
Forge strong relationships. Because your bosses don't see you every day, reliability is a big issue. They need to know they can count on you, says Hinkins. Don't make empty promises or say you did something when you haven't gotten to the task. Stay organized and on schedule. "If I tell you I can deliver something, I have to be punctual," said Hinkins.
The take away: The autonomy to be your own day-to-day boss comes with responsibility, says Hinkins. Grooming employees creates loyal workers who in turn go the extra mile to show their appreciation. The message, Hinkins said "is that my bosses value me and my work ethic."
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