If you’re one of many telecommuting professionals with a highly demanding career, it can be hard to separate work life from home life. It can be even harder when you work in the same place you live.
Telecommuting’s popularity continues to take off. According to 2017 statistics from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, half of the U.S. workforce holds a position that allows at least partial telecommuting. What’s more, 80 to 90 percent of the national workforce has expressed an interest in telework, for at least part of the work week. On the whole, 3.7 million employees—2.8 percent of the workforce—now work from home at least half the time.
It’s a reality that, in part, is being driven not only by business demands, but technology that’s making it increasingly easier to stay connected to our jobs, coworkers and customers—even if you’re away from a traditional office.
Faster, easier ways to communicate is a benefit to people who make their living from home. But even with such advancements and their built-in advantages, telecommuting presents its own set of challenges. Here are 3 ways for telecommuters to make the most out of working from home.
1. Get yourself in work mode
It’s hard to effectively work from home and be productive if you’re not in an at-work state of mind. A key to establishing the proper mindset is to create the appropriate environment, starting with your workspace.
If you can, keep your work area free from things that make it feel too much like home. Home is where you live, lounge and relax, so your workspace should be set up to be environment where you get your work done. Designate a place in your home for an office.
Once you’re set up, establish your work schedule and stick with the hours you’ve planned. Sure, it’s important to occasionally step away from your work if you’re stressed, but too many breaks for household chores or checking the DVR can get you out of the working mindset, so try to keep home life separated—within reason—from your work business. (Not that you shouldn’t visit the kitchen to rinse your favorite coffee mug from time to time.) The structure of set hours will give you the discipline you need to keep your mind on your work tasks.
2. Technology is here to help you
We live in an increasingly digital world, and the modern workplace is no different. You’ll want a well-equipped office for starters. Consider investing in a good desk, chair, computer and printer. The cost of larger office supplies has decreased in recent years, as technologies become more simplified and streamlined. Many telecom companies even sell SOHO (small office/home office) lines specifically for work-at-home employees. These are functional office products with scaled down features that are more reasonably priced. Make sure you’re set up with a reliable broadband connection, and consider a dedicated phone line for business calls.
Cloud-based technologies and apps allow for management of your work email, documents, project files, calendar and schedule to be accessed from anywhere on a host of devices, including your computer, tablet or phone. Much of today’s software and devices are cloud-ready. Take advantage of online technologies to make tackling your task list easier. There’s an app for nearly every need—and many of them are free.
The benefit of such advanced technology is it keeps us connected beyond the office or worksite. It’s easy to stay in touch with your company headquarters, managers, coworkers and customers.
Use the technology you have available to establish good practices among the people with whom you work. Check in regularly about the status of projects and upcoming work. Staying transparent and open in communication not only helps you complete tasks more efficiently but it helps you adjust to changes and avoid issues.
3. Try a change of scenery
Working from a home office can leave you feeling confined. You might even be more prone to getting stuck on a task. Getting out of the house occasionally might help to free up those mental jams. Step outside for a few minutes of fresh air, or pack up your laptop and find a table at your favorite coffee shop to wrap up a big project. Switching up your workspace occasionally will keep you out of unproductive ruts.
A combination of the right mindset, access to effective technology and the ability to vary your surroundings is important to succeeding in the challenging professional lifestyle that telecommuting presents. Working where you live doesn’t suit everyone, but if you’re one of the millions of working Americans employed from their homes, these tips can help you remain productive, engaged and successful.