Telecommuting is now a norm in the marketplace. The 2014 National Study of Employers found that 67% of American workers spend some time telecommuting. Many work entire from a location apart of the Company offices, and most often at home.
On a whole, telecommuting is a great boon to the employees and through them the businesses. The State of Telecommuting 2014 found that employees who telecommute reported increased moral (80%) and productivity (70%); with a decrease in stress levels (82%) and absenteeism (69%).
But telecommuting has its challenges – primarily remaining productive outside of the traditional work environment. The key to remaining productive is to build proper habits and following them as though they were company rules. Some great examples are:
- Designate a specific workspace. Attempting to work on the couch in your sweatpants is the gateway to productivity disaster. Designate a specific space where you work every day. Keep it clean of non-work items (like a TV remote or fiction novel), and furnish it with the business tools that you need, starting with proper light.
- Maintain your workday routine. Go through the same process as if you were going into the office. Sticking to the routine puts you in “business mode” and reinforces that you may be at home, but today is work.
- Build the day around the schedule that best fits your productivity. One of the major advantages of telecommuting is that you get to set the schedule. So make sure you set the schedule that supports how you work best. Do not allow the flexibility of working from home to become a license to give your most productive times to something other than your business activities.
- Set and keep office hours. Having a designated time to start, to break, and to stop will greatly enhance productivity. Do not follow your mood or allow yourself diversions. The idea is to replicate a work day – in a setting you better control, in a schedule that works better for you, and in a climate that minimizes the stress – but it is still a work day.
- Stay closely connected to your team. More connected workers are more productive. Most work involves collaboration, and when you are not in the same physical place, you must be intentional about staying in touch. Connectivity is easier than ever with cloud computing. Stay in touch, remain responsive, remain engaged.
- Maintain a professional atmosphere. Daytime television, barking dogs, and playing children will rob you of productivity. Maintain a professional demeanor and practice. Have a filing system, observe confidentiality rules, shred sensitive documents. If you “do the little things” it will establish a pattern of productivity. As has often been said – where you lack discipline, add structure.
- Log off when you are done. Working remotely does not mean that you are always at work. The line between work and personal life blurs more than ever when you work from home. At the end of the work day — log off and “go home” even if home is just a few steps away.
Telecommuting can be either great advantage or a great time drain. The flexibility and quality of life to be gained is worth the discipline and effort to make it intentionally productive.
OnPoint Editor. “Seven Rules for Staying Productive When Working Remotely” August 2015