If you do it right, working from home can be a positive and rewarding experience for you, your family, and your employer. Follow these tips to get the most out of working from home:
1. Know what your employer expects
Do you have the same job requirements and responsibilities at home as you would in an office environment? How much support will you have as a home office worker?
Some companies have very strict guidelines about what equipment and support the company will provide and what it will not provide. Companies usually provide laptops and phones, and they provide support separately, but no printers or monitors etc. It’s important to figure out where your company stands and what they’re willing to negotiate.
2. Meet and exceed employer expectations
You should also make sure your boss knows that you are actually meeting and/or exceeding his or her expectations all the time. You may be working 10 hours a day, but if your boss doesn’t know, or you don’t get the results you expected, that’s okay!
How will you communicate your efforts and results to your employer? Don’t rely on them to assess this. Your performance, or lack thereof, may not show up until a scapegoat is needed or something goes wrong.
3. Set up a comfortable, separate space for your workspace
This is critical to your success as a remote worker. Your space should be relatively free from distractions Such as home, pets, TV, and even stunning views if you’re new to telecommuting. If you primarily work in front of a computer (who doesn’t?), you should have a good quality chair and a large monitor.
4. Make sure you have everything you need
Computers, phones, printers, good WiFi and an organized workspace are a given. But you’ll also need paper, ink cartridges (you’d be surprised how quickly these seem to need replacing, even in a “paperless” environment), and possibly letterhead, pens, post-its, etc.
Think of the many things you use in your office and the well-stocked supply cabinets there. Do you make regular trips to the office to restock these common items, or do you buy them and get reimbursed? Address this issue ahead of time.
5. Set boundaries with family and friends
Not only is this critical to your success working from home, but your relationships as well!
When you first start telecommuting, friends and family may not understand what is required of you. A friend whose nanny canceled might call you: “You work from home, can you watch the kids?” You might get an invitation for lunch or a drink, and on the road you might realize that you can regularly fit into your schedule.
At first, though, you’ll need to be careful about setting the tone for family and friends, and developing good work habits for yourself.
6. Set specific work hours or goals
Goals are important to keep you on track and to validate your progress. Working from home can be very positive in terms of autonomy and independence, but it can also be lonely and unfulfilling without regular feedback from office work.
The telecommuter needs to feel confident that he or she is doing what is considered necessary to be successful and feel safe at his or her job. Without regular input from colleagues, paranoia can quickly set in.
7. Stay connected
It might be a good idea to start working from home one or two days a week and gradually increase. This will give you the opportunity to slowly transform your communication style in a more natural way.
You’ll find that you and your co-workers may be emailing or calling more often to keep in touch. You will decide which issues and/or colleagues need to be addressed and which ones do not. Increased productivity due to reduced co-worker distractions can be a major benefit of working from home.
8. Schedule daily and weekly breaks
Many employees who work from home find that they spend too much time in front of a computer, which reduces overall productivity. A schedule enters your day. Eat lunch regularly (anytime you want – no one’s watching!) and get up and move around regularly.
You may find it helpful to set an alarm in your calendar to remind you to step away from your computer. Telecommuters may not realize they’re squinting at a screen, feeling hungry, or even having to go to the bathroom when they get too involved in their work.
9. Know your work style
Knowing how to work best is vital to you. Do you work best according to your mood? If so, track your tasks by task type: computer work, phone work, meetings, etc. This way you can perform these tasks when you are at your best.
How you communicate plays a big role in how you work overall. Don’t know your communication style? Take our free quiz today!
10. Track your work and progress
Your employer may have a specific way for you to record your time. This could be as simple as emailing your supervisor when you start and stop working. It could be a more granular time tracking system, where you record your specific activities in time increments or diaries.
It might be a good idea to keep track of what you’re doing in more detail. It might come in handy if you’re asked to justify your time, or when you want to ask for a raise.
11. Evaluate your progress weekly
It’s important to organize your work in such a way that you can quickly and clearly see what you’ve accomplished. Use your favorite calendar app to keep track of this. In some industries, hourly billing or journal systems (or even combinations) are standard.
Regardless of the approach, you need to be able to clearly identify whether you are on track to achieve your goals.
12. Adjust the way you get work done
If something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to change it. As a telecommuter, you may be a pioneer in your office, company or industry. Take the time to research ways to increase your productivity. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Is there a faster, better, more efficient way?” Look for it, though be careful.
Don’t jump on the first solution that comes up. try it. Not all solutions meet the needs of all users.
13. Ask for help or advice
Meet regularly with your boss or colleagues. These meetings can be weekly, monthly or quarterly. When you first start working from home, meetings may be more frequent.
Talk to others in a similar field who are also working from home. Use social media to stay in touch with your professional network and get advice on working from home. Select a group or list that you are registered with or follow. You don’t want social media to be a distraction instead of a way to stay connected and get help when you need it!
14. Take care of yourself
It’s hard to be your best when you’re not feeling well, especially when you don’t have regular feedback and input from other people!
Get up and get dressed at the same time. If this is your habit, have breakfast and coffee before going to work. If you usually pack it, pack a lunch when you’re ready. If you have this habit, have regular lunches with colleagues or friends. Set regular breaks and time off from get off work.
Most importantly, avoid working when it should be family time, and remember to exercise and get enough sleep.
Working from home can be a huge change of pace for many professionals. But adjusting to not going to the office every day can also be difficult. No matter where you are in your career, follow the tips above to successfully work from home.
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This article was originally published on an earlier date.
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