Telecommuting: Making a Success of Working from Home

Telecommuting: Making a Success of Working from Home

So, now you’re working from home.  Awesome! Right?

Working from home is great on so many levels. Not having to commute saves money and time. You can avoid the fish and popcorn smells emanating from the break room. And new technology tools make it simple to check in with office teammates.

But there are a whole new set of challenges, too. How do you keep from getting distracted when domestic duties call? How do you handle a family member who stops by unannounced in the middle of the day? How do you get anything done if you have kids around?

Most of us have been conditioned to work and focus because of outside constraints. Meetings force us to adhere to certain schedules, office hours dictate our start and end time and a manager’s watchful eye usually keeps our daily Netflix reviews to a minimum.

Once on your own, you may find yourself floundering a bit to stay productive. Here are some tips for telecommuting success.

Be Sure to Separate Work Life from Home Life
Be sure to set boundaries. It’s essential to impose rules for you and your family members if you’re working from home. Establish ‘do not disturb’ guidelines, work hours, break times and a policy on handling personal matters. Get buy-in from the whole family! For example, no doing laundry, paying bills or taking out the trash during work hours. Treat your home office as if it were a ‘real’ office – only located somewhere else.

TIP: Hang or tape colored paper on your office door. Red when you cannot be disturbed and green when it's OK to come in. Yellow means to check first. This will help kids (and other adults) know when it’s okay to engage.

Get Ready for Work
Although it may be tempting to sit around in your pajamas, experts highly recommend showering and getting dressed as if you were heading to a workplace – especially if you will be on videoconferences. Dress appropriately and comfortably. But get dressed!

Establish Set Office Hours
While your remote workplace can offer flexibility, you’ve still got to stick to a schedule. If you don’t create a set window of time for your job, you’ll either work around the clock or put off your work. You might even consider posting your office hours on the door… and stick to them!

Create a Routine
Even if you’re the type of person who likes to fly by the seat of their pants, the most successful telecommuters are those who tend to set up a routine. They do it early-on in the transition from the office to home. Establishing office hours is only part of your new routine. How about including lunch and coffee breaks? Maybe setting up a standard team call-in or touch base. A routine will help you stay focused and keep you accountable.

Set Up Your Workspace
Carve out a space in your home that’s your dedicated workspace. Ideally, the space should have a door so that you can shut out noise or interruptions. For obvious reasons, your workspace shouldn’t be at your kitchen table or in your bedroom. Too many distractions or possible interferences for a productive day.

TIP: Be sure to work with your tech team for support and technology set-up. Test everything. Keep the support number in your contact list.

Stay in Touch
If you’re an off-site worker, be sure to check in several times a day by email, online chat, phone or videoconferencing with your on-site managers and coworkers. Relationships tend to develop more quickly in person. Remote workers need to connect to keep themselves (and their project) top of mind with managers and peers.

Enjoy Your Flexibility
Find your focus wavering? Need to boost creative juices? Take a break with a walk or even a bike ride. Fresh air or movement goes a long way towards keeping you motivated.


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