For most of my career I held positions working on-site for several large multi-national companies. When the opportunity arose for me to work remotely I thought it would be a good opportunity to try something different. I soon realized that working from home requires mental fortitude, determination and flexibility. When working in an office setting, there were many opportunities to bond with colleagues at extended business lunches, conduct hallway conversations and maintaining a connection to all the “office news”. However this has all changed now as my home office is a spare bedroom and the office chatter is listening counting how many times the FedEx and UPS drivers pass through my block.
But if working from home or telecommuting is something you are thinking about then continue to read on. My productivity, workload and opportunities for professional and personal growth have increased since leaving the office cubicle. So my personal journey proved both rewarding allowing me greater flexibility but at times longer work hours.
Mentally Be Prepared: It needs to be stated; although some may think it is obvious, working from home requires a mind makeover. It is important to realize that you are now working remotely. Your workspace has become the kitchen table or the spare bedroom. But being prepared mentally includes working to make your new workspace a success. Being determined to make it work can enhance your lifestyle. This also includes researching how others have made working at home a success.
Have a Dedicated Workspace: Working on the coffee table in front of the television or in the hallway may not be the ideal workspace, if other more suitable areas exist. For example, I recommend a dedicated space focused on your work. This space defines your work. The work from home has it boundaries. Some of the obstacles others face are that the boundaries are not clearly defined. So work becomes home and seeds of stress and anxiety start to grow. Soon your home becomes work and no longer represents security and happiness. This can be avoided if the workspace has a boundary.
I use a spare bedroom and a few years ago, gave it a fresh coat of paint brought in several plants and moved the desk closer the window. This way I can look outside my window for motivation or inspiration. I can sometimes count the number of times the UPS truck is delivering packages to my neighbors. However, my real friend is the mailman who delivers my mail, including my customer payments.
Take Frequent Breaks: I struggle with taking breaks. Taking frequent breaks does not mean getting away from the desk every 10 or 15 minutes. At times I can work on a project for hours and then realize I did not get up out of my office chair. I suggest handling work by individual projects. Taking breaks before starting a new project or phase of the project works for me. Others can set a clock or meeting invite on their digital calendars. Finding out what works best is an individual decision. A word of caution is that failing to take breaks can result in both a lack of productivity and increased stress.
Maintain a Tool to Track Deliverables and Projects: One of the challenges of working remotely is to keep track of both your time and projects. In most cases there is no one looking over your shoulder asking for the project status or deliverable. I recommend keeping a “To List”. Maintaining a “To List” and focusing on all your tasks can prove effective. I know some keep all their digital gadgets to do this. I prefer a sheet of paper a pen and a highlighter. I write all my tasks down each day and once they are accomplished I cross them off with my favorite color highlighter. This works for me. However, whatever you prefer, using something to remove deliverables shows signs of progress. I also report on all my deliverables each day. Some things fall between the cracks but here is an area to keep making improvements. Find out what works best then stick with it.
Schedule Meetings Out of the House: At times leaving the house for meetings can provide a break in your day. I schedule meetings with clients several times a month which creates a good balance between work and home. However, when speaking to some remote workers, they schedule time out of the house to work at the local Starbucks, meet friends for lunch, run an errand or find something else to do. Schedule time to be out of your work/home as this will create a balance environment. When the workload becomes intense, do not neglect this.
Network with Fellow Remote Workers: This could be a challenge, however at times only someone who is a remote worker could understand this. I connect with several people who work at home. We find time to vent about the joys and struggles but also find practical solutions to resolve issues. Someone who has not worked at home may not fully understand the plight of the remote worker. However, networking helps to battle isolation and loneliness.
You can make it a success as a remote worker. It takes planning, focus and dedication but can provide flexibility in your life that cannot be accomplished otherwise.
The Walker Group provides business development and advisory services to FinTech companies. Our varied market segments enables us to identify synergies and opportunities to stimulate growth as we partner with our clients to build their business. Through our one-on-one CEO Advisory Services we have helped companies to navigate through the key business problems, increase sales, build new revenue streams and gain new customers.