Editor's note: This is a guest post from Evita of Evolving Beings
In our first part of this series, we considered “Why Companies Should Allow Their Employees to Work from Home”. Today we follow up with 5 important rules to follow when working from home.
Having experience in working from home for a company (through my husband), and working from home for myself, I would like to explore the topic of working from home from both angles.
Let’s look at how to make the most of your work happiness when you telecommute for a company:
1. Take Accountability
Working from home is for the most part a big privilege, so make sure you are serious about it, should you decide to go this route with your company.
Remember that there are still tasks that need to be done, and people who depend on you. In this type of environment you do get more personal freedom, but that also means you need to take more accountability and initiative for your work.
Make sure therefore, that you know what your company expects of you, what hours you must be available between and what methods of communication you will be using.
(Karl’s note: I’ve seen friends set their careers back because they stopped being a go-getter. They went into cruise mode and stopped wowing their manager and co-workers. One friend told me he wished he would have taken more accountability for his own work. It took him a year and a half to gain his manager’s trust back.)
2. Organize Yourself
This is perhaps the most important tip to having a happy and productive work at home routine, that both you and your company can be satisfied with.
An obvious part of this is having the right technology. Today we have technology to stay so well connected, whether it is quick email, tele-conference or Skype call. We can easily hold meetings with people all over the world or share documents within seconds. Technology can schedule meetings for you, breaks, alerts and more. You just have to make sure it works for you, not against you in how you organize your day.
Therefore, just because you don’t have to wake up at 6 or 7 am any longer, making sure that you are conscious of time and how you spend it, is crucial. This is a huge make it or break it aspect of telecommuting and work from home happiness.
3. Schedule Breaks
One of the biggest things that I have seen happen personally, especially to people who really love their work, is once in a home environment, not only do they become more productive, they actually go overboard. Yes there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
As there are no co-workers around you calling you out for a break or official time to stop, it is very easy to get caught up in your work and suffer in various ways. In being a happy employee you need to be healthy and balanced one too. Therefore, it is very important to have scheduled breaks for proper eating, exercise, etc. Take time out to eat properly, take a stretch break or even a short walk.
You do not have to feel guilty about this either, as you would be taking breaks at your workplace anyway. The difference is that at home they will most likely be more structured and beneficial with what you can do in them.
4. Stay Connected
Working from home for a company usually means that you will still be in regular contact with your boss and co-workers. However, you may need to take more accountability here as well.
Communication really is the key to maintaining and fostering good relationships. Therefore, don’t make your boss wonder what you are doing, apply tip #1 and take accountability for filling them in on your progress perhaps even daily.
Concerned about missing out on office news or outings? Stay connected with your co-workers whether through the company intranet, or even getting in touch with them during a break using the social media that is most suitable.
5. Don’t Abuse the System
When we work from home for a company, everyone wins when we play by the rules. This does not mean that you need to work more or harder than you normally would, but it does mean not abusing the system.
While you may not lose your job, giving employers bad experiences with employees who telecommute ruins the opportunity for many others. If you really don’t want to do what you are doing, than perhaps it is best to re-examine if this is the right job for you altogether.
Otherwise, enjoy yourself and the added benefits that working from home can offer, while offering your company top quality work.
Naturally, working from home is not for everyone. Some people just need that pressure or structured environment of a workplace, while other jobs just simply cannot accommodate it.
(Karl’s note: People also need social interaction. Working from home can be lonely if a person doesn’t take time to reach out to others. That’s why you might want to consider working in a coffee shop or public library for a few hours each day.)
So should you be in this position of working from home or have the option, be sure that you do take it just as seriously as you would coming into the workplace. In the end nobody wins if we slack off and it can quickly cost you your job, not to mention give people the wrong impression about telecommuting. If you work for yourself from home, it can cause you to fail at bringing a needed income and being a successful entrepreneur.
Ultimately, remember that happiness is what you make of it, so whether in your home or the workplace, your level of satisfaction will still come from you and how you approach your work.
Evita next post in this series will enlighten us on how to survive and thrive when working for yourself in a home office.
What do you do to make yourself happy and productive when tele-commuting?
Check out Part 1 of this series: Why Companies Should Allow Their Employees to Work from Home
Evita Ochel, B.Sc., B.Ed., CHN – is the main author of EvolvingBeings.com where she writes about spiritual and personal development. She hopes to inspire people, to truly live out the life of their dreams and awaken the highest version of themselves. She is also the main author of EvolvingWellness.com where she writes about nutritional science and holistic health for optimal health and longevity. Learn more about Evita Ochel or Follow Evita Ochel on Twitter.
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15 thoughts on “5 Important Rules to Follow When Tele-commuting”
Hey Karl and Evita,
I think staying connected is vital - its really easy to feel disconnected and fall out of the loop of little things when you're not physically there.
I think that ties in also to the point about making an effort for social interaction. I've had jobs where I've worked in an office as well as working from home, and I think like most others who have that experience, the social interaction is the thing that you take for granted at the job you go to the office for. Coffee shops, coworking and scheduling lunches with friends are some of the strategies I use, as well as just connecting with people via phone and voice chat online, but it's not the same as getting out of the house and meeting up in person.
Great to see you over here!!
I think the biggest thing, for me, would be the physical disconnect. While this makes for a very great environment for getting work done, there is something lost in the connection we have by physical proximity to others. I think it's all very manageable, as long as we are aware of this - and look at ways to stay connected.
Great thoughts on all of this Evita!
Great points to mention and thank you for sharing your personal experience too.
I think it all comes down to personal preferences and characteristics, as I know some friends who when working from home are on top of regular meetings with others to stay in the loop and I also know people who don't use the office environment as a place to socialize, so working from home does not bother them one bit if they do not connect to socialize with others in the workplace. In the end, it is I think a lot to do with our personalities too and such.
In the end, there is definitely no technology that can substitute personal interaction, it just depends on personal preferences if we want those interactions to be with colleagues from work, or friends outside of work, etc.
Thank you and what a pleasure to be here in Karl's "Work Happy Now" environment!
I agree with you, and like I said above to Sid too, nothing beats meeting or seeing someone in person, but at the same time, the level of interaction and connection also is greatly tied to our personality types.
So the good news is that there is always something for everyone, and some way to make it all work, so that we get the benefits of an office environment, even when at home 🙂
When I have days working from home where it's just me, writing and planning, my first instinct is "YAY a day to GET THINGS DONE." But by the end of the day I feel so lonely! I realized early on personal interactions, whether by phone or in person are critical for me on a daily basis. Need to be with people at some point during my day. We are social beings, afterall! Fun post. Adjusting to a work from home life was really hard for me. But after 4 years I'm (almost) adjusted!
I so share in those sentiments. I am lucky as Markus and I both work from home, so the company is fantastic. But there have been a few days in the past where he had to be somewhere or vice-versa and although we both separately get lots done, it just isn't the same.
Having some company or interaction with others, really makes life amazing whether we talk about working from home or any other aspect of our lives.
Thanks for this Evita -- I realized as I was reading your post that I basically "telecommute" when I am doing work for my own business as well, in the sense that I'm working outside a formal office setting -- and that I feel so much more connected with people than I did when "telecommuting" at my old job -- either because I feel more connected with my goals in this business or I'm the one in charge. 🙂
That is so great to hear. I think all the points you mention have added up to why you feel so good where you are today.
I think to make telecommuting really work, just like making any job work, it is all about what we put into it, how well aligned we are with where we are supposed to be, and the interactions we have with others.
I used to work from home one day a week, and I found that I often got way more done on that one day than I did in the previous four days at the office. I usually started my day a little earlier when I worked from home (I'd actually start working about 7:30 a.m.--the time that I would "normally" be setting out on my one hour commute when I went into the office), and usually had most of the work done in less time.
The one important lesson I learned the hard way was to follow up and confirm that a file sent by email actually did reach the person in a timely manner--or phone beforehand to give the person a heads up. I remember feeling all pleased with myself because I'd completed a project and sent in the file, by email, ahead of schedule--only to get a frantic call from my boss later than afternoon, asking where the file was that she'd been expecting earlier that day. I still don't know what happened to the file (I suspect that in one of those fluke moments that our organization's firewall took offence to the file extension because it came from an "outside" email address and vaporized it.), but I do know the mix up inadvertently caused a lot of confusion and inconvenience!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I think that is such a valuable lesson that you shared with us all here, about really making sure that we do stay on top things, such as following up and even as you mentioned giving someone a heads up. Different companies have different security levels, and that is a very valid point that things can get lost or mixed up at times, and it is up to us to make sure we recognize this. It is too bad that it worked out as it did, but as you also mentioned it was an important lesson to learn.
It is wonderful too though, to hear about the positive side of things and how productive one can be. Thank you again for sharing your insights on this topic here.
Hi Karl and Evita,
Thank you, Karl, for featuring Evita here.
Telecommuting is not for everyone. Some people need structure and need the formal office setting. My experience is like what Chris wrote above. Since I am no longer working for someone else, I am essentially my own boss and do not work in a formal office setting. Personally, I love it. I love the interactions I have with my clients and with the world. The lack of structure makes me thrive.
The points you mentioned are just perfect especially about the breaks. Breaks are so important. Thank God for Starbucks....my favorite place to go for a break...along with the bookstore! 🙂
Yes, I so agree. Working from home makes some thrive and it can make others miserable. I think it has a lot to do with a person's character/personality as well as many other things that come into the equation.
It's great to hear it is working for you, as it is for me. Having tried this, and feeling the freedom, I know personally I would not want to ever go back to a formal work setting.
Staying connected has gotten a lot easier with all the social media tools, but it's important to remember that not all mediums are the same ... there's always something powerful about voice and something way more powerful in person.
Great additions - thank you for sharing. Social media and technology is fantastic today and can do so much, but indeed nothing will ever replace personal contact.
Excellent article, I work from home as welll as in an office generally alone and I think I have been through the full spectrum at one time or another.
Sometimes missing the buzz of interacting with other members of staff, other times getting to caught up with work and not taking a break and sometimes disconnecting from other colleagues.
You cant take it lightly you must remain organised, there are some good online softwares that are great for this, and keep in touch, this will keep you sane.
Thanks again Evita
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