Did you know nearly four million employees in the U.S. telecommute?* That’s almost 3% of the entire workforce. Clearly, there must be something to this whole “working-from-home” phenomenon.
Here at Production Solutions, we are proud to have over 40% of our employees telecommute at least a two days per week and the benefits are distinct: no commuting drudgery, the ability to see your family for more hours each day, a personalized office all to yourself – the list goes on. But what about the employer? They see a benefit too with the ability to mine talent from beyond a specific geographic area, provide a more productive workforce, and even reduce overhead from a smaller “in-office” staff. The key to making it work for all organizations can be boiled down to one word: COMPROMISE.
Here are ten tips we use to make our telecommuting processes effective for our overall company and individual employees:
- Faster than Fast!
- Upgrade your current Internet package. A faster, more reliable connection means less frustration with slow video, occasional disconnects, and difficulty working on the in-office server.
- Hardwire to modem – Wifi is great, but not as fast or reliable as a hard-wire. Think about running an Ethernet cable from your modem to your office if they are in different locations in your home.
2. Office away from home, while still in-home
- Using a private office away from kids, pets, roommates, etc. allows you to feel like you are “at work”.
- Clear out as much “non-office” clutter as possible. Think about what you would normally have on and around your desk in the office.
3. Iron-clad security system
- Ask your IT department about their suggestions on at-home digital protections – at least some sort of Anti-Virus software is critical.
- A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help keep your online actions more private in a world lacking net neutrality.
- Check out our tips on how to stay safe and secure online!
4. The proper tools (applications) for the job
- Make sure you have access to all in-office applications through either a Remote Desktop application or Cloud Applications.
- Try out different apps for communication, project management, and file-sharing (AirCall has a great list to try here.)
5. Get out more!
- Being in home all day for work, then all night after work – can lead to realizing that you haven’t left the house in several days! Monotony can be a productivity killer.
- If you find the time, get yourself out of the house. A change of scenery, especially after sitting in the same room hour-after-hour, day-after-day, can be invigorating. Not to mention talking to fellow humans face-to-face! Do a couple hours at a coffee shop or a co-work space – even just getting some fresh air in your yard or a nearby park!
6. No Train, No Gain
- Telecommuting is as much about being comfortable with technology as it is about the work-from-home mindset. Set yourself up for success with tech training.
- Suggest that your in-office comrades learn to use the same applications that you will be using to easily facilitate communication. It’s a two-way street!
7. Be clear about “in-office” hours
- Flexible office hours are great, but it can be a slippery slope. Setting boundaries about when you are “in-office” helps make sure you aren’t working 24/7.
- There will always be another task to do. Make sure you know when to call it a day.
8. Prepare for your (video) close-up
- Make your best video impression by:
- Positioning the camera as close to eye-level as possible.
- Having a well-lit room (with natural lighting, if possible).
- Dress as if you are at work. Be ready to be on video often.Clean office in the background.
- Avoid multitasking while in meetings.
9. Sound off on poor audio performance
- Buy a high-quality bluetooth headset (or ear-piece) to link to your computer and phone.
- Mute microphone when not talking in a large group.
- Prepare for meetings by removing potential background noise (dogs, kids, etc.)
- Test all buttons prior to meeting to make sure they work the way you expect.
10. Work/Life Balance!
- Use your telecommuting ability to your advantage.
- Lunch breaks for laundry, dishes, exercise, or just having lunch with your family/roommates.
- End your workday in time to have dinner with family.
It takes commitment and focus to be a successful telecommuter, but hopefully these tips can be a starting guide to making it a smoother transition. Every situation is different and the needs of your work environment may require alternate plans. Telecommuting is an excellent option for employees and employers alike, and hopefully it continues to grow with more cultural and technological support.