And what’s not to love about telecommuting? When you can work from the comfort of your home, skip commuter traffic, set your own hours, and live outside of corporate politics, telecommuting offers all the conveniences without any of the tiresome obstacles.
But as tantalizing as a telecommuting career may be, it’s certainly not for everyone. Telecommuting comes at a price and offers its own set of challenges. When your work life and home life collide, the result can be messy. Follow these 10 tricks to telecommuting success.
1. Create Your Own Work Space
One of the first steps to telecommuting success is setting up a dedicated work space at home. If you have the space, your best bet is turning an entire room into a home office, giving you the privacy and focus you need. But designating a desk area or even going down the street to a local coffee shop works just as well. Your bed, the kitchen counter top or your futon/convertible guest bed are off limits.
Changing your physical surroundings to reflect a more professional atmosphere goes a long way into keeping yourself on track with deadlines and projects when you’re away from the office. Plus you’ll be less tempted to curl up for a mid-afternoon nap or pull up the latest episode of “The Office” on Hulu.
Basically? Bed = Bad. Desk = Good.
2. Break Time
Just because you’re not at the office, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to take a break or two. Stick to the same routine you would have if you sat in a cubicle eight hours a day. Make sure you take an hour for lunch. Give yourself a coffee break in the morning, and/or a snack break in the afternoon if you’re feeling peckish.
Don’t guilt yourself out of well-deserved break. It’s important to keep your productivity up, and that won’t happen if you don’t give yourself some time to feel recharged and refreshed throughout the day. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself turning into a mindless automaton at the day’s end.
3. Dress to Impress
You would think that part of the convenience of working from home is not having to change out of your pajamas. But, like the importance of creating your own work space, it’s just as important to dress like you’re going to the office.
You’d be surprised at how dressing for work can change and focus your mental attitude. Going through the motions of getting ready for the day sets the tone for a constructive work atmosphere, and gives you a professional attitude.
One of the cardinal rules of telecommuting is setting and keeping realistic deadlines. As fun as it may be to have no boss breathing over your shoulder, working without a goal in mind is the quickest way to have an unproductive work day.
Write down deadlines for projects and assignments, and email it to your boss so that you have someone keeping you on track. It’s helpful to set reminders and phone calls to check-in with your superiors to make sure you’re on schedule to meet every goal.
It’s very easy to forget the outside world when you work from home. While you do get to avoid the intricacies of corporate politics, it also means that you have to be your own advocate.
Make sure there are multiple ways for your boss and colleagues to contact you. Check your email frequently, and respond as immediately as you can. Keep your phone at hand, and make sure you call if there’s an office meeting. An instant messaging service works well for open communication if something changes last minute. For more long distance projects, make use of free video conferencing tools like Skype.
Creating an open feedback system is a building block to your success as a telecommuter. Better yet, be proactive and physically go to the office for important meetings, or even just to remind others who you are. One thing you do not get when you work from home is networking and building strong relationships with others.
6. Leave Work at Work
When you work at home, the line between your work life and personal life can blur easily. But as with any other 9 to 5 job, whenever you’re done for the day, sign off, put the phone down, unplug your computer and close the door on your office, if you have one.
Keeping distinct work hours is important to productivity, plus, you aren’t getting paid to work extra. It’s one thing to work late on an assignment that needs to be finished, and quite another to be pulling out your blackberry every time you get a new email from your boss.
Draw the line for when you work and when you’re just at home watching television. When you’re on the company dime, be at your best, so that when you’re on your personal time, you’ll feel free to enjoy it.
7. Be Realistic
Don’t expect your employer to pay for all of your expenses like your internet connection or your printer ink cartridge. As a telecommuter, you should be aware of your company’s policies on benefits as they apply to you. Check up on special tax deductions you can take such as office supplies, lunch meetings, or a work cell phone bill.
And just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you can run your personal errands. Don’t run out to the bank, get groceries, or chat with your friends for hours. Set time aside for your personal responsibilities just as you would if you went to an office every day.
The trickiest aspect of telecommuting is making sure you have all the right access you need to all the right places. This includes setting up VPN access, figuring out how to log into your work email, and/or having the right phone number and pass code to call in to office meetings.
Also important is having the right level of security on your work computer to make sure that your files are confidential. Find out all the security protocols you should know, and update your passwords frequently.
Don’t get too comfortable working at home! Treat your work seriously, and avoid distractions like phone calls from family and friends, non-work related emails, Facebook, etc. A proactive attitude is essential to being a productive employee: you have to be your own motivator.
It’s very easy to view telecommuting as a way to take it easy and do less work. Maintaining a positive work attitude will speak volumes for your work ethic, and will be reflected in your work, impressing your superiors.
10. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
At an office, when an employee has shown exemplary work, or a team has completed a challenging project, you celebrate. Whether you go out for lunch or buy drinks after work, the concept of recognizing a job well done is just as important when you work from home.
After successfully finishing a tough assignment or overcoming a personal obstacle, celebrate the moment. Give yourself that pat on the back to keep you motivated in the future. And don’t do it alone either! Celebrate with a friend or meet up with off-site colleagues to commemorate your achievement. You deserve it.
~Courtesy of Hamsa Ramesha | AdminSecret