Making Telecommuting Work for you and your coworkers


Written by Dawn Attwood and Lara Plathe

Telecommuting, or working remotely, is increasingly becoming an option that companies are offering to employees. Since 2005, the telecommuter population has grown nearly 80 percent according to Global Workplace Analytics. Whether it’s one day a week or full-time, there are a few things to make working remotely a better experience for you or team members that are working off-site.

Working remotely can be intimidating and also a benefit for both the employee and the employer. When you understand the factors that go into successfully managing yourself and maintaining meaningful connection with your colleagues along with your own well-being, the word “remote” becomes less of a connotation for isolation and more of a tool for choosing your own channels to thrive in your work.

Working Remotely

  • Act like you’re heading to the office – Treat the mornings the same as if you were going to the office. Keep the same routine and get yourself ready. You don’t need to wear a suit, but dressing business casual can help with performance.
  • Create a separate space to work – Make sure to have a location in your home that is dedicated to work. This not only helps limit things in the home that could be distracting, but also allows you to distance yourself from work outside of work hours.
  • Create a daily work schedule – This can be done regardless whether you are in the office or working from home, but outline your day and block time to work on specific projects. And make sure you stick to your work hours, start on time and put the laptop away at the end of the workday.
  • Make a call – You don’t have the opportunity to stop in someone’s office to chat about a project, so instead of sticking to email, add some conversation to your day by calling your coworkers instead of emailing.
  • Set-up regular meetings – Keep communication going with your supervisor or team members that you work with frequently. Let you manager know when you’re working on an assignment and offer updates. Even a quick 30-minute touch base every other week helps to make sure you are on the same page.
  • Take a break – Sitting at your desk for 8-10 hours without heading to a meeting room or walking down the hall can impact productivity. Schedule 15 minute walks in the morning and afternoon, it may feel like a conflict of interest to step away from the computer, but it helps re-energize you!
  • Make time for exercise or meditation – This is a good rule of thumb for anyone, whether you are working in an office or not. You can help your physical health and also increase your energy by taking time to care for your well-being.
  • Let them know when you’re away – Remember to set up your out of office messages when you are away from your desk. You can also block off time on your calendar when you are taking lunch, so your colleagues know you won’t be available at that time.

Working With Remote Coworkers

  • Offer appropriate training and technology – For example, utilize a program such as GoToMeetings or a videoconferencing system to allow remote workers to more easily join in on meetings and discussions.
  • Check in during meetings – It can be difficult to chime in to a discussion on the phone, so take a quick break or two during the meeting to ask the person if they have anything to add or contribute.
  • Send meeting items ahead of time – If you are presenting something visual and can’t set up a webinar, send the items ahead of time so they can pull it up during the meeting.
  • Give them a call – With remote employees you don’t have the opportunity for quick hellos or conversations. Give them a call just to say hello or on special events such as their birthdays.
  • Establish work goals and performance metrics – You’re putting a lot of trust in employees when they work remotely, so be sure to hold them accountable and identify work goals.
  • Encourage on-site visits – If you are the supervisor, schedule times for your team member to come into the office. Schedule some time to have a one-on-one conversation to catch up in person.

It takes organization, time management skills and the ability to be a self-starter to work from home. And not everyone is hardwired that way.

If you work remotely or have coworkers that do, do you have any tips?


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