How to be Productive When Telecommuting

A 2015 Gallup poll showed that 37% of US workers have, in some capacity, worked from home or are continuing to work from home. Progressive companies are offering more and more opportunities for employees to telecommute, especially in digital marketing jobs like social media, content marketing, SEO and the like. And it turns out, both sides are reaping the benefits.

work from home poll

What benefits, you ask? Working in your pajamas for starters. Saving money on gas, the ability to focus and avoid interruptions, and it saves your employer money on overhead as well.

There are barriers, however, that prevent some people from successfully telecommuting. Distractions from family and animals. Visitors. Television. The list goes on. The good news is that it’s highly possible to be successful working from home and fully eliminate these barriers to your success.

These tips can have you functioning at a high level from the comfort of your home office (or couch).

Set rules and boundaries

Working at home can cause a bit of confusion when it comes to your availability to family (and your furry friends as well). You’ll be tempted to stop what you’re doing and take time to hangout, watch some television, take a walk or otherwise engage with your loved ones, and trust me, it will be difficult to resist.

Working at home can cause a bit of confusion when it comes to your availability to family.

That’s why it’s so critical to your success as a remote worker to set boundaries for both your family and you from the start. Designate a particular spot in your residence as an office, even if it’s just a corner desk in your bedroom or a couch in a low traffic area. When you need to fully focus, that’s where you should be, and it should be an unwritten rule that the area is off limits during a particular time of day.

It warrants mentioning that this won’t work for your dog, cat, or whatever pets you have running around. If the door is open, they’ll be in your lap, so make sure the door’s closed to avoid a furry interruption.

Plan, plan and plan some more

Once you’ve set a few rules and boundaries, you need to set a schedule for yourself. Even after eliminating distractions, you’ll still inevitably run into times when you lose your direction. That’s why it’s so important to have your day planned.

working remotely

Determine what items are of the highest priority and get those on the schedule first. Set specific times that you want to work on them, and adhere to those times. Take care of tedious things like checking email at the beginning and end of the day, but be sure to limit your time to 30 or so minutes. Email can be a real time vacuum, so prioritize and be sure to stay on track.

Test your Wi-Fi and other technology

You absolutely must have reliable internet if you’re going to be successful at telecommuting. Be sure to test your connection prior to your first day of remote work. If your devices are lagging, here are a few tips from an article that appeared in Forbes to help you speed up your internet.

Once those devices are up to speed, make sure they’re in proper working order. No matter how fast your internet speed may be, if your devices aren’t working, you’re out of luck. Don’t fall victim to absent audio on a Skype call or unsent emails because you neglected to make sure everything was in working order.

Work/life balance

One of the most difficult things about working from home is learning when to shut down. It’s easy to stay too connected to your technology and never truly leave the office when you telecommute. Avoid burnout by learning how to separate work and home life.

I find that, in the marketing field especially, I have to make a conscious effort to put down my mobile device sometimes. We’re almost overly connected these days, and it’s easy to pick up your phone or tablet and check your email or social media feeds. This goes back to drawing those boundaries. When you’re with your family, put your devices away and really be with them.

To me, this is the most important piece of the remote working success puzzle. Your family deserves your attention, love and support, so if your telecommuting job begins to take away from your ability to provide that, then maybe it’s time to head back to the office.

By following these tips for remote working success, you’ll be rolling along in no time. There are lots of great things about working from home, so be sure to set yourself up to be productive and the success will come along for the ride.

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Anthony Gaenzle
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