Telecommuting, working remotely…they’re just fancy ways of saying you work from home. Regardless of what you call it, it’s a growing trend. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 3.7 million non-self-employed workers (2.5% of the workforce) telecommute at least half of the time. This number has grown 103% since 2005 and increased 6.5% in 2014.
A study by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that teleworkers are more productive. They also tend to work more hours (5 to 7) hours per week more than their office-bound colleagues, including working while sick or on vacation. Other benefits include less stress and financial savings on things like gas, parking, lunch and day care.
To realize these benefits, working from home requires discipline and focus. Not everyone may be suited for telecommuting, but the following tips will get you on the right track if you’re considering it or having trouble working from home productively.
Establish Working Hours
In many cases, your at-home working hours will be established by your employer and will match the hours your office works. Even if this isn’t the case, following the same hours may be beneficial. You’ll need to be available to co-workers at times that they’re working and you’ll need them to be available to you as well.
Your ending time is important too. Working from home can blur the work/home boundaries, so being done at a specified time helps to keep those worlds from colliding more than they have to. That also helps your loved ones understand that you’re still “at work.”
One of the productivity benefits of working from home is that there are fewer interruptions, especially by co-workers that stop by with questions or just to chat. That bad part is that there are fewer interruptions. While that may sound contradictory, sometimes those distractions can allow your brain to recharge for a few minutes. So, be sure to take short breaks every now and then (don’t overdo it!), and be sure to take a lunch break. Get up and move away from the computer to come back refreshed for the second half of your day.
Claim Your Space
When working from home, make sure you designate a specific workspace. Preferably this won’t be your bedroom. Working from your bedroom may make it harder to transition to non-work time. And working on the couch in front of the TV is not likely to make you very productive. Instead, pick a room offset from the hustle and bustle of any family or housemates home during working hours.
Check with your employer since some will reimburse you the expenses of setting up a home workplace and the cost of office supplies. However, even if this is the case, be sure to discuss what may or may not be covered.
Somewhat related to having a workspace for you to “go” to work is dressing for work. Getting out of your pajamas and getting dressed puts you in the right mindset to get your work done.
Don’t Be a Stranger
One of the disadvantages to working from home is that you’re not in close proximity with your co-workers. This is detrimental for two reasons. First, you lose out on some team-building time and social interactions.
You also lose some of the capabilities to be collaborative. An impromptu discussion or running an idea or problem by your co-workers face-to-face just isn’t possible. Even a phone call or Skype meeting may not allow you to express what you need as well as you can in person.
Consider getting together with co-workers for lunch at least once a week if you work from home a lot. Also, plan time each week to be in the office, even if it’s only a few hours. At the very least, work to increase your communication with teams when you’re out of office.
What other tips do you have for working from home? Tell us in the comments below.