Telecommuting is nothing new. However, many businesses required that employees work from home to prevent unnecessary exposure due to the pandemic mandates. Therefore, it remains to be seen how many may persist in being virtual.
But what if you’ve never worked from home before, or not on a full-time basis? Time for the right mindset and some organization to keep you on track and your workflow producing.
Going Virtual Makes Sense
What is happening today, in my view, may be something that permanently changes how we all do business moving forward. And I’m surprised it took a virus to make it happen. So let me share with you why I believe this to be the case.
I have worked out of my home office for over two decades. However, I had my own offices for several years in the beginning. Primarily because the Internet and Web were so new that meeting with me in person and having a physical location helped instill trust.
In 1995, I opened my little “Internet Studio” in the downtown district where I lived at the time. Folks could meet with me to get websites and use my computers to access the Internet.
After that, I rented a professional office suite in a complex with other small businesses. Next, I used a virtual office where staff did everything (answer phones, make appointments, etc.), and I just showed up to meet with clients.
What worked for me…
After several years and becoming established, I realized that a physical address/location was unnecessary. So I went completely virtual and never looked back.
The next step was to move off the grid. From the hustle and bustle of Chicago to rural Mississippi to regain the quality of life we felt we had lost. Thank you, technology.
In my view, virtual work environments will become more commonplace. Businesses will discover they are more cost-effective (with the right employees). By becoming that type of employee, you will enhance your career opportunities.
Employees will discover the added benefit of a better quality of life (no commute time, traffic, expensive wardrobes) and seek virtual opportunities. Win-win.
We’ll never probably be the same. People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn’t think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won’t go back.Jennifer Christie, Head of Human Resources @ Twitter
Working from Home = Discipline
Your ability to succeed at working remotely will be proportionate to your level of discipline. It will also reflect on you as an employee, your work ethic, and your employer can trust you to get the job done.
Most incorrectly surmise that working from home means you can stay in your PJs, get up in the morning when you feel like it, watch TV, and more or less work less. Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth.
While working at home is a more flexible environment, that’s an incorrect assumption. Yes, I may take a break, run an errand or walk my pup. But all in all, I put in a solid 8-hour minimum workday—plan on doing the same.
If you want to succeed at working from home, having a daily schedule can make your virtual work arrangement one that benefits you and your employer.
Here’s my daily schedule.
- I get up at sunrise every day. Shower, get dressed, and presentable for my daily videocons. I am in my home office before my posted hours. I’m not in PJs or on the couch.
- My lunch is generally 10-20 minutes somewhere between 12p-1p. Lunch is usually me grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, some yogurt, or a piece of cheese (or two) that I take back to my home office, where I keep on working away.
- At the end of the day, I power down my computer until the next morning. I am “off of work”!
I love what I do, and I work at it all day. Being raised with a solid work ethic made working from home something that came easy for me. Your discipline will make or break your work-at-home experience.
Working at Home for Newbies
For those new to working at home, go into it assuming you will put in a solid 8 hour day. You are going to want to create a regular schedule that works for you as I have. And then stick to it.
Your employer most likely will have guidelines and requirements, including productivity goals that they’ll advise you of. Then, do not hesitate to ask for the tools, software, or resources you discover you need to meet those goals.
Similarly, your employer may be new at this virtual thing too, and your input will be critical to making this transition work for all. Until the dust settles, both sides have to be flexible until processes and procedures solidify.
Know that your employer will expect that you will be accomplishing just as much, if not more, than when you went into the office. Working from home does not mean less work.
Managing Business Work Email at Home
Usually, your work email is on your work PC, you leave the office, and you won’t check it until you are back in the office again in the morning. Now that you are working from home, you’ll want to set up your work account to use it from your home device.
- To avoid mixing personal and work emails on the same PC, use separate email identities/personalities and folders for your email activities. I use PostBox. It keeps me uber-organized.
- Set up folders so that you can keep your various remote tasks organized. PostBox allows you to color-code your emails to prioritize at a glance.
- Respond to emails as promptly and professionally as possible. This will reflect that you are available and working even though you are not on-site.
- Working off-site does not mean you are available 24/7 (unless that is the agreement). Set boundaries for yourself as well as with those who are at home with you.
Increased Email Volume
You may likely be emailing more than you ever have before. If for no other reason that you are not in person with those, you usually would communicate within the office.
Your email communication skills are going to be even more critical to clarity in your communications. Including avoiding any unnecessary misunderstandings. Here are the basics to start.
Consider acquiring a copy of my Business Email & Technology Etiquette eBook. It’s only $4.95, and all go to the expenses to keep this site up and running.
Why not become the epitome of professional business communications at a time when it will be essential to your job performance?
If you do not have a designated home office, create a little corner in your home that you dedicate just to spending your work time. Sitting on the couch with your laptop and TV on is not conducive to efficiency and productivity.
Consequently, you will want to eliminate any distractions that can lead to you not paying attention or making errors. Let those who may also be home know that you are working and appreciate not being disturbed while in that space.
By keeping a schedule, setting goals, and designating your “space,” you set yourself up for success. Then be flexible as you determine what will work best for you and your employer.
Being you do not have to commute or have in-office distractions, you will probably discover that you are more productive than ever.