Tips for Telecommuting & Remote Workers
Let’s assume that 1) telecommuting is a good fit and 2) you have a viable chance to work from home. So how do you turn a telecommuting opportunity into a successful career move? Here are a few tried and true tips to help you become a skilled remote worker, who is 20% more productive and 25% less stressed.
Create a comfortable home office space.
Designate a home office space – preferably away from the distractions of everyday living – with natural lighting and a door. If you don’t have a spare room, find a cheerful nook (somewhere other than near the refrigerator) and invest in a corner desk with a compatible worktable.
In addition to office equipment and supplies, you will need a comfortable office chair with good support; a three-in-one printer (to fax, copy, and scan); and a landline phone with a speaker, a mute button, and headset capability (because cell service isn't always consistent).
Establish clear rules of engagement.
Working from home doesn’t mean you are available during the day to run errands; do household chores; care for children; or entertain your neighbor over coffee. To avoid misunderstandings, establish your “rules of engagement” and share them with family and friends. If you have little ones, find a babysitter or nearby daycare center to take the reins while you work.
Stick to a regular work schedule.
When you operate from home, it’s tempting to either work long hours or procrastinate altogether. Consequently, telecommuters require plenty of structure, including a regular schedule of office hours.
Unless you have a pressing deadline, force yourself to begin and end at roughly the same time every day. Be sure to factor in a reasonable lunch hour, along with regular breaks for stretching, exercising, or even socializing. A brisk walk with a friend can work wonders for stiff joints and flagging motivation.
Map out your day.
Most of us use our commuting time to map out the work day, so we are ready to jump right in. By the same token, you can use the time you would normally spend commuting to create and prioritize a list of work tasks for the day. Check off what you finish and add what you don’t to the top of the next day’s list.
Dress for work.
It’s hard to feel professional when you’re sitting around all day in pajamas or workout attire. Indeed, taking a shower and dressing for work will get you into the proper frame of mind. That’s not to imply, however, that you need to put on a power suit or don your best pearls. Casual business attire is perfectly acceptable unless you have an important videoconference meeting where it will pay to look spiffier.
Keep the lines of communication open.
Effective communication is the foundation of all successful working relationships. And while office workers have the advantage of face time, remote workers must rely on email, instant messaging, phone calls, and videoconferencing to connect.
Nothing beats a personal phone call for catching up or collaborating with managers, teammates, and clients. And tele- or videoconferencing will become your "go-to" for meeting attendance. So be sure to have reliable equipment and a quiet spot to talk, away from the din of barking pets, ringing doorbells, and noisy appliances.
Telecommuting pros also find it handy to have two computer screens – one for monitoring email and the other for working on. Likewise, they make it a point to share their daily calendar with key office staff to keep everyone apprised of their activities.