As technology has changed over the past 10 years or so, increasing numbers of people are working from home. Telecommuting is now a reality and is very popular. In fact, since 2005, telecommuting has grown by over 100%. That has lead to some big positives for employees and employers, but also some drawbacks that may come as a surprise to those who telecommute.
Those who don’t work from home automatically think of the perceived benefits of the situation: spending the day in pajamas, creating your own schedule, having more time available for family and leisure. However, that is not always the case. There are challenges to working from home, and it is not an ideal fit for every employee.
Telecommuting has some major benefits, such as eliminating commute time and helping workers find better work-life balance in most cases. According to a study, there is also an increase in how engaged teleworkers are compared to those who work in-office. An engaged staff is one that tends to be more effective, productive, and even profitable.
Some people struggle with being able to shut down and disconnect from work. Combine this with a telecommuting situation and you have the ideal situation to create a workaholic or a burnt out employee. For others, self-motivation may be a challenge. The office atmosphere may contribute largely to keeping them on task, and this crucial factor is missing with work at home situations.
Creating the Right Telework Environment
Whether you are provided the technology with which to do your job or you need to provide it yourself, there are some definite things you need in order to successfully work from home.
- A home office is a must. Being able to separate your work space and your private space is very important in terms of efficiency and boundaries so that home or work don’t tend to take over your life too much. Don’t set yourself up in a shared space, especially one that is in a well-used part of your home. You need a dedicated desk in a room with a door that closes.
- A reliable Internet connection is critical in order to work remotely. You will need a fast Internet service that can handle a VPN connection. The specific demands of your job may mean that you need cable or fiber Internet service. However, in some cases satellite Internet or wireless Internet may be a good enough fit.
- A home phone service is a solid investment for a telecommuting individual. The clearer reception and more reliable reception ensure that you won’t face communication challenges during conference calls and other business calls.
Remember These Telecommuting Guidelines
- Communication is key. Because you are physically separate from your co-workers, it is easy to miss things. If your schedule is not a traditional one, this is compounded. Communicate with your team to ensure that they know of your availability, especially if you are unavailable for a long period of time.
- Embrace technology. Because of the distance factor, don’t depend on just email for communications. Use instant messaging, video conferencing, the phone, and other technology for real-time communications. It will increase collaboration and foster a more traditional work “feel”.
- Be dependable. Telecommuting is a great deal and lends itself to high productivity. However, one employee who doesn’t meet deadlines or neglects responsibilities is enough to create problems for all telework employees at a company.
- Stay connected. Visit the office as often as is practical in order to preserve the team connection. It will improve your relationships with co-workers and make them more likely to include you in work conversations. In fact, having an inside connection is very valuable. Foster a relationship with work friends that you can count on to keep you in the loop.
If you’re not sure if telecommuting is right for you, check into the possibility of part-time telecommuting or begin on a trial basis. It may be the perfect work situation for you, especially using the guidelines we’ve suggested.
About the Author:
Amy is a Marketing Consultant who happily works from home for BroadbandSearch.net. She writes about business, marketing, technology, and the Internet. On any given day you can find her practicing yoga and reading copious amounts of books. Follow her on Twitter @amymedeiros3