In the past decade, the number of telecommuting workers has increased over 115%. Companies are letting their employees say goodbye to cubicles and hello to at-home offices.
As a college student, I sometimes struggle to get my assignments done when I’m not in the library or a quiet space on campus. When I sit at my apartment’s kitchen table, I’m surrounded by so many distractions – roommates chatting, dishes clashing in the kitchen, television on maximum volume. If you work from home, you probably experience similar commotion.
However, telecommuting is a luxury that has proven to be more effective than working in the office. If you do work from home, or are considering making the switch, productivity is key. As a young Wolf Pup who has had to work jobs remotely plenty of times, here is what I do to make sure my work gets done, no matter where I am.
Designate a Space
Although you’re working from home, you still need to find the perfect balance between your professional and personal life. Since there is no physical separation between the two, you must do your best to create a professional space inside your home.
If you have an extra room in your home, create an office. Let this be your new work space. When you are on the clock, do all of your job-related tasks in this room. When 5 o’clock hits, get up, shut the door, and don’t open it until the next morning.
Depending on your home, a private office may not be an option. Try to find an area that is free of distractions and noise, if possible. In the event that your local library is a shorter commute than your employer’s office, a quick drive to the library may also prove to help you be productive if you’re home isn’t cutting it.
According to Fortune magazine, “…the average office employee spends 56 minutes per day using their cell phone at work for non-work activity.” Cell phones are major distractions in the office, and your home is no exception.
While a computer is probably a requirement for your job, do your best to unplug yourself from all other forms of technology while you’re on the clock. Even though you’ve had your phone on your desk while in the office, you may notice that you can’t resist the urge to check your phone more while you’re working from home. At home, no boss is looming over you, no one is there to tell you to put the phone down and get back to work – you are accountable for yourself.
Schedule Your Hours
When you opt to telecommute, your hours usually become a little more flexible. It is easier to hit the snooze button a few more times than usual in the morning because your work commute has been cut from a 30-minute drive to a walk downstairs. However, you should still do your best to stay in the habit of “going to work.”
Sit down at your at-home desk at 9 a.m., take a lunch break, and shut your computer down at 4 or 5 p.m. Staying in a strict routine will help you maintain your productivity at home. If you have family members at home while you’re working, do your best to separate yourself from them. Recreating your office routine and environment as best you can in your home will help make you finish your assignments more efficiently.
I’ve even found that I’m more productive when I’m doing work in presentable clothes and not in a t-shirt and shorts. Dress for success, as they say!
Spend Time With Co-Workers
Your job may require conference calls and video chats with other co-workers. However, you should still strive to meet with members of your team in person every once in a while. Although you may not be in the company’s office, you’re still a part of the company and should make bonds with your fellow employees.
This is especially important if your position requires collaboration and cooperation with other co-workers. Sometimes the best ideas come out of a whiteboard brainstorm session or an in-person meeting, not just over the phone.
While telecommuting is a nice luxury that is common in today’s world, this way of work is not for everyone. Some people work better in a formal office setting while others crave a little more flexibility in their work. Whatever the case, know your work style before you commit to doing your job at home.
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