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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to successfully work from home full time

So how many people out there work exclusively from their home office? I don't mean they work at home but can go around the corner and pop in the office a few times a week, I mean you are no where near anyone else you work with, truly 'remote'?
http://www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com Has some good updated stats, I don't know much about their methods or reliability, but this is probably a good benchmark. As expected, the population of teleworkers is growing (of course) and this will only be fueled by the price of commuting and the availability of high speed internet connections around the world, especially in the rural US where it has typically lagged.

So if you want to work from home, here are the top 5 things you must do!

1. Be Reliable - I can't stress this enough, if you wan to work from home, you must generate a level of trust between yourself and your employer so that they feel comfortable that you will accomplish what you need to while out of sight. So if you are an under performer whilst in the office, don't expect your request to under perform from the comfort of your own home to be greeted too warmly. If you are a solid performer and want the flexibility of working remotely, your managers must be comfortable that nothing will change when you're no longer physically there. Especially if you are granted a 'trial period' of telecommuting, be punctual, available, present and in general, be reliable.

telecommuting working remotely distraction productivityTrying to work with kids in your office is a bad idea

2. Be Productive - If you are someone who just cannot stay on task while working from home, just own up to it and don't waste everyone's time by pretending to be productive while you browse www.reddit.com or play video games. Don't have your cat in your office, don't have a tv/radio on while you're on the phone and please for the love of god don't try to babysit your kids while working, it never goes well. You may think you have it made, and you might get away with this for a while, but it will end poorly for you, and your co-workers will hate you.

3. Use the right tools - Also high on the list of infuriating home office requests "Can you call me, I don't have long distance on this phone" or even worse "can I call you back, my husband/wife/kid needs to make a call" If you are going to work from home successfully you need the right tools, a dedicated phone line, a printer/scanner and a fast enough internet connection for the type of work you do. You may be fortunate enough to have your employer pay for these things, but even if you're not, please go get them yourself, you will be glad you did and the money you're saving in gas will more than pay for a simple extra phone line.

Good article from INC.com about setting up a home office

4. Be prepared to compromise - If you want the option of working remotely you will need to be ready for a certain amount of compromise. There will always be people (executives usually) who do not 'believe' in working from home and will require regular meetings in the office. There will be cases where you have to travel to a meeting because everyone else is in the same building, and there will be cases where you just don't want to. My advice is to suck ti up and do it, it the price you pay for all the other days you didn't have to sit in traffic for two hours. Nothing makes a manager or executive more frustrated than hearing "oh he couldn't make it, he works from home" or "we'll; have to do this on speaker phone for Johnson, he works from home". Don't be a hermit or a recluse, and be understanding of those who just don't get it yet.

5. Take advantage of the benefits - Now the good part, the benefits to working from home! The savings of course, gas, parking, tolls, lunches, drinks etc...it really adds up. And of course the time, especially for those of us with small children, shaving 1-2 hours off every work day is probably the best benefit to working from home. Then there is the flexibility, if you need to head out to get an oil change, a haircut, go to the dentist whatever, you can probably much easier do it from your home office. If you need to cut the grass or rake the leaves during a break you can, if you have contractors or installers coming to the house or packages being delivered, you will be there. These are all great benefits and you should take advantage of them and remember how fortunate you are to have them, lest you become just as jaded about your job at home as you might have been in the office.

I have been telecommuting successfully for almost 5 years full time, questions are welcome in the comments.