A good computer? Check. Solid Internet connection? Check. Pajamas (or yoga pants)? Check. If you think that you have everything you’ll need to work from home, there are just a few other things we’d like to point out when it comes to telecommuting best practices.
Working remotely is very different from working in your garden variety office space.
So whether you’re a digital nomad or plan to work from home exclusively, here are eight telecommuting best practices to help make you the best remote worker possible.
Use these eight telecommuting best practices to boost your productivity:
1. Stick to a schedule.
The whole point of having a flexible schedule is just that—to be flexible. But when your work days start and end at various times throughout the week, it can be hard to keep up your productivity level—and your focus.
So try to stick to a schedule that is somewhat steady and regular to ensure that you stay on top of your workload.
And while dreaming of being a digital nomad and traveling the world while you work sounds like a romantic remote adventure, determine if that really is the best fit for you and your lifestyle.
2. Remember to take breaks.
While many employers (particularly those who haven’t experienced the massive benefits of having a remote workforce) are hesitant to let their team work remotely for fear of them slacking off, it turns out that the opposite is true.
Studies show that telecommuters are more productive than their in-office peers. And once you get into the work groove, it’s easy to lose track of time. While it might seem that would be good for getting work done, it can actually put you on the fast track to burning out.
Remember to take breaks every hour or so for at least five to 10 minutes. Get up, stretch your legs, and take a mental break from work. You’ll come back refreshed and renewed—and ready to tackle that report.
3. Stay social.
You would think that with all the free time you have that you would be fighting off lunch invitations and impromptu get-togethers. And that might be the case when you first start telecommuting.
But after awhile, you’ll find that your family and friends—as well as you—will start treating your work-at-home job as if you were in a regular office and won’t bother you during work hours.
Since you’re working from home (and sans any collegial company) it can get lonely.
Make sure to stay social by scheduling lunch dates, taking a class, even taking your woofie for a run in the park. By making an effort to be social, you’ll fight off any loneliness that can come from working remotely.
4. Get physical.
When you got hired for a remote job, you swore you’d go for a morning run every day. A few weeks or months into the job, and, well, your running sneakers barely have a scuff on them.
Staying physical is an important part of your overall well-being and is critical for remote workers, who can sometimes let exercise fall by the wayside. Take time to take care of yourself by engaging in some sort of exercise for at least half an hour every day (and multiple trips to the fridge don’t count).
5. Invest in your equipment.
During your office days, you might have left your computer on all night or let dust accumulate on your monitor like a light snowfall. Now that you’re a telecommuter, you have to make an investment in both yourself and your equipment.
After all, you can’t expect to produce stellar work on subpar equipment. That’s why you need to purchase the best equipment that your budget can buy. Search for good sales on computers, monitors, printers/scanners/fax machines to make working remotely easier.
You’ll be glad you did when you don’t have to replace a computer that konks out on you a couple of years from now.
6. Make an effort to be social with your colleagues.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own little bubble when you telecommute and lose some contact with the outside world—and even your own team. In order to stay connected with your team and your company, you’ll have to make an effort to stay in touch.
Most remote companies have a variety of communication tools and programs (such as Sococo, Yammer, etc.) to give their remote workers a chance to connect on both a professional and personal level. Be sure to take advantage of these, so that you can forge a connection with your coworkers that goes beyond just work.
If your company offers the chance to get together for annual retreats or offers to pay for get-togethers with workers who live near each other, take advantage of the opportunity. Not only will you have the chance to make new friends, but you’ll strengthen your bonds to the company and to each other.
7. Communicate often.
Email. Instant messages. The good old-fashioned phone. People choose to communicate in a variety of ways. One of the biggest telecommuting best practices is to communicate—frequently and clearly. In the remote workplace, there’s no such thing as too much communication.
Remember, without being face-to-face with your remote team, a lot can get lost in translation. That can have very damaging results not only to your own work, but can also affect your coworkers.
So reach out by whatever means you feel most comfortable with, but always keep in touch with your team.
8. Have a to-do list.
Some people swear by to-do lists. Others prefer to wing it through their workday. Thing is, to-do lists can keep you on track far better than trying to remember everything you need to do during your day.
The goal, though, is to not overload yourself with a dozen to-dos, because you’ll only wind up getting frustrated when you’re not able to check everything off your list.
So at the end of your workday, pick the top three things that you’d like to get done tomorrow, and then write them down. Putting the hardest item first ensures that you’ll get it done and will give you the momentum to get through the rest of your list.
There are many telecommuting best practices that any remote worker, regardless of industry, can utilize. That way, you can make the most of your remote job and have the work-life balance that we all seek.
Readers, what are some of your own telecommuting best practices? Let us know in the comments!