Top Ten Telecommuting Tips

According to Global Workplace Analytics 56% of the workforce could use    telecommuting to accomplish their work and 62% feel they could  telecommute  part of their work week.  In a time of crisis or because of limited space, telecommuting becomes important to employers as well.

For various reasons, you may need to work from home or another location other than your company office.  Working from home can relieve the stress of traffic going to work.   The reduced travel time can be used to create a different work schedule.  To be as effective as possible working from a home office there are a lot of things to consider.  There are lots of conflicting ideas on how best to telecommute by working from home office.  Below are the top ten tips for telecommuting.

Top 10 Telecommuting Tips

1. Set Work Schedule.  Work-at-home means you set "work" hours for doing the job and keep them separate from "home" time.  Impose "do not disturb" guidelines for your job time.  Set break times, as well as start and stop times.  Make is clear to family that, although you are home, you are really on-the-job during work hours.  Getting dressed, doing laundry or dishes is home-time activities, not part of the job you are being paid for.  Arrange for childcare during work times to eliminate distractions.  Just as you keep work time promise to your employer, keep your promise to family by calling an end to the work day when that time comes.

2. Get the Right Technology.  You must have a good internet connection to work from home.  A LAN connection will typically work more efficiently than WIFI.  Ask your corporate IT for their hardware, software, bandwidth, and cloud/server storage recommendations.  Consider audio/microphone headsets and webcam needs. Make sure your computer/laptop and internet service provider meets those requirements before you transition to home office or telecommuting.  Download the Applications you will be using before you need them.

3. Dress for Work.  Experts say that getting dressed as if you are going to the office will help you concentrate on work and be more effective at the job.  Not only is this a good idea to put you in the right mode, if you end up in an emergency video-conference you will not be caught in your pajamas. 

4. Create a Workspace.  Set-up your work area or office/room with everything you need to perform your job at maximum potential.  When choosing your space, a room with a door is best. Avoid common areas like the kitchen or family room to prevent distractions.  You need a computer, paper and pen for notes, phone, and any job-specific supplies for telecommuting. Using a dedicated workspace in your home lets the rest of the family know when you are "at-work" and therefore you should be left alone.

5. Tackle Priority Duties.  Make a "To Do" list for each day and then develop a plan to accomplish the highest priority items first.  If you want to remain a key employee, as an off-site worker you must show your worth by finishing important projects.  This requires good time management and planning.  Being busy with low-level activities gets work done but it does typically not get recognized.

6. Do not Multi-task.  Trying to do too many things at one time will result in sloppy work or missed deadlines.   Finish each work task before starting another.  While at work. do not get distracted by household chores.

7. Be Available to Co-workers. Quick and easy communication with co-workers, customers, and suppliers is important.  Although it is a good time management technique to limit your phone and email use, most of the time that is not an option when working outside the office.  Keep your email or chat windows open and minimized so you receive notifications when something comes in.  Then immediately decide if response is needed or if it can wait determine when to respond.  Prepare to delete - do not keep items that do not require any action on your part.  Same applies to calls and texts on phone.

8. Prepare for Virtual Meetings.  Even though you are not physically at company office, you will be expected to attend team or staff meetings.  Your meetings may be via teleconference, however many corporations are moving to the internet in order to emulate face-to-face meetings.  You need to prepare for virtual meetings in the much the same way as for live meetings, the only difference is the added technology component.  If you listen to music while you work, be sure to turn it off and be in a quiet location before your meeting starts.
9. Take Creative Breaks.  Staying in one place for too long can be boring.  Boredom can result is less productivity.  Go to another room or go out for lunch to break the monotony.  You do not have to be in a corporate office to take a business lunch or attend a professional association meeting.  Take the dog for a quick walk or run on your short breaks to revitalize.  Set a timer to keep from extending your breaks too long.  If you need to do a lot of on-line research or write creative text, consider taking your laptop and phone to Starbucks, the back yard, or the park for that small portion of your work day.

10. Attend Meetings and Training.  Going into the office for meetings weekly or a couple of times a month keeps your face in front of co-workers, team members, and superiors,  It allows you to develop a bond for working together and keeps you more up-to-date on what is going on.  Attending corporate classroom training is another way to develop a company network, in addition to enhancing your skills.  Although you can do on-line training from your home office, it does tend to isolate you from other employees.
As you can see from the above, telecommuting can be challenging.  It requires proper planning and dedicated effort.  For ideas from the leadership side of telecommuting, see Ten Tips for Preventing Isolation in Your Remote Workforce

Bonus tip: Stay-off social media!  Unless it is your job to monitor a business account - Facebook, Twitter, Linkedn, Instagram, etc. can be distracting.  Do not let what others are saying or doing keep you from getting your work done.  If you do, then you ,ay be forced to make up work-hours during home-time, which will make both your family and employer unhappy.