The Do’s and Don’ts of Working Remotely

Cars stuck in a traffic jam

Avoiding the morning commute is a great part of my day

In the beginning, working from home is bliss. You set your own schedule, have a fantastic commute and the daytime soaps take the place of even the most chatty co-workers.

Richard Branson is a big supporter of telecommuting, working from his island in the Caribbean he believes “remote working is easier and more effective than ever.” Faced with endless perks, there are a couple of hazards you must learn to navigate. Follow our advice and you will be more productive than ever in your home office. Even if you only work remotely once a week, our tips will help you accomplish more and make sure you stay productive – even when no one is watching.

The ability to work from home has many advantages, but requires more self-discipline and motivation than a traditional office environment. To set yourself up for success this is what you need to do:

  • Have a workspace separate from your home, with minimal distractions. The TV isn’t turned on as background noise in a normal office, it shouldn’t be on in your home office either.

  • Create boundaries. Despite being at home, you have work to do. Your friends and family need to respect that, and they should limit any distractions while you are working.

  • Get ready for each day. Shower and change out of your pajamas. You never know when the boss will call on Skype, or your friends drop by unannounced.

  • Stay organised. Use to-do lists, calendars, apps on your phone. Whatever it takes for you to stay on top of your tasks and never miss a deadline.

  • Form a schedule, a semblance of routine office hours so that your colleagues, boss and your clients know when it is OK to contact you. Try to match this as close to normal business hours as possible, it makes it easier for everyone involved.

  • Having a schedule also stops you working too much, It’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Take time for a relaxing lunch break and get outside, if only for a short period of time. It will leave you refreshed once you begin work again.

  • Have a back-up plan. There will be days where the internet goes down, or for whatever reason you can’t work from your home office. Scope out a library of coffee shop you can work from as your plan B, or you could always just pop into your normal office.

  • Make the extra effort to stay in touch with your colleagues. Pick up the phone to speak to people, even if it’s not 100% work related. Use technology to help you here, Skype and instant messaging are great way to stay abreast of the latest office news without leaving your remote office. If there is a birthday or special event, make it a point to attend in person.

There are many hazards a telecommuter needs to learn to manage. More so than in a normal office, a remote worker has to look out for the following:

  • Don’t become a recluse. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to leave the house. The same goes for showering. Stay clean people!

  • Don’t ever lose touch with the people in your company. It’s easy to do, when you are not forced to interact in a lunch room or cafeteria. You need to work extra hard to maintain your relationships with colleagues while you work remotely.

  • Don’t take personal calls during work hours. Often family and friends think that since you are home you can catch up on your work later. Unfortunately this is not the case. You need to manage your close acquaintances expectations, and only return calls once your work is done.

  • Don’t do personal chores or errands while you are meant to be working. It will take twice as long to get your work done. Don’t tweet about it either, your boss is going to see you’re not working.

  • Don’t procrastinate and let the hours slip away. Create a routine you can stick to with a schedule that allows you be productive throughout the day.

  • Don’t work too much. Typically remote workers put in a lot extra time, its easy to fire up the laptop and spend another few hours working late into the night. You have a huge risk of burning out. Make sure your schedule makes sense.

These tips are a great start in being effective while working remotely. Follow them to the letter and you will be a very successful telecommuter. But if you’re anything like me, every now and then you need to throw caution to the wind. Go see a movie, take the afternoon off to enjoy the sun in the park, or dive into a book only to emerge hours later. The real joy in a flexible schedule is that you dictate when you need to work, and when you can afford to indulge in some spontaneous fun. Just don’t forget that an afternoon off might equate to staying up till 4am to meet that deadline.

But hey, that’s your call. The biggest perk of working remotely is being your own boss.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Motivation, Work and Business, Working Remotely

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