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Tips For The Mobile Worker: How To Telework From Home Successfully

Updated on October 3, 2014

Benefits of Telecommuting

Tips for Mobile Worker and Working at Home

Telework from Home: Advancements in IT and communications technology is changing the accepted "norm" of the typical office environment, leading more companies to offer telecommuting and to telework from home options to their employees. Benefits to the employer include reduced office expenses, larger resource pools for attracting employees, and increases in employee satisfaction.

However, the transition from a traditional office job to telecommuting and to telework from home brings significant challenges to both the employer and to the employees. Both are concerned with measuring productivity and contribution, and with the ability to directly supervise employees, mentor colleagues and build teaming relationships. Teleworking from home also brings challenges for the employee who is used to the structured environment and daily routine of the office environment.

Here are a few helpful tips for telecommuting and to telework from home successfully.

Tips For Telecommuting

So, You Want To Telework From Home?

Create A Dedicated Workspace

Setting up an ad hoc working area on the kitchen table is not conducive to a good working environment. A telecommuting employee needs a dedicated workspace with a phone, adequate desk space for a laptop and writing pad, a comfortable desk chair, sufficient lighting (including natural light) and a door to seal off the noise and distractions associated with life at home.

Z-Line Claremont Desk

Z-Line Claremont Desk
Z-Line Claremont Desk

A spacious contemporary desktop workspace with a real wood veneer in mocha finish. 6mm smoked tempered safety glass with Chrome cylinder glass supports. Pullout keyboard tray with room for a mouse.


Eliminate Distractions

Newly telecommuting home workers often find alternatives to working, from extra childcare responsibilities to emptying the dishwasher. A successful teleworker must maintain a work mode mindset throughout the work day. Eliminate common distractions from the dedicated workspace including radio and TV, and close the home office door to separate the workspace from the household activities, especially when the kids are home.


Be Sure to Be Seen and Be Heard

Keep Regular Working Hours

The flexibility offered with working from home does not excuse the teleworker from being available during normal working hours. Customers, coworkers and management expect teleworkers to answer the phone and provide timely responses to email. Successful telecommuting requires maintaining an "in office" mentality when working from home.

Working from Home or At the Office?

Many businesses are offering workers with work-at-home options to reduce costs such as office space and as an incentive to retain high value employees.

Are employees as productive when allowed to work at home?

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101 Tips for Telecommuters

101 Tips for Telecommuters
101 Tips for Telecommuters

Telecommuting can have a tremendously positive impact on an individual's quality of life, productivity, and peace of mind. But all of the advantages are contingent on being a well-informed telecommuter. Author Debra Dinnocenzo offers specific strategies for successful telecommuting that will enhance effectiveness and prosperity, both personal and professional.


Participate and Communicate

Telecommuting and working from home runs the risk of losing visibility with management and coworkers, increasing the need to proactively "be seen and be heard" as a valued resource and member of the team. Increase visibility by actively participating in conference calls, staff calls and in email communications on projects and assignments. Provide concise updates to management to demonstrate work activities.

Avoid Multi-tasking

Multitasking is the norm today and not just in the business world. A short drive down any main street will find drivers who are talking on their cell phones while drinking their coffee -- even reading the newspaper.

In today's busy and ever connected world, we feel as though if we are only doing one thing at a time, then we are not working hard enough. And quite often when are multitasking, we are not doing as much or as well as we think we are. In fact, research from such notable institutions as MIT shows that we only think we are accomplishing more, and multitasking actually reduces your overall performance and efficiency.

Here are a few suggestions to help you leave the multitasking behind, and move ahead to become a more productive Uni-tasker:

Schedule Time for Tasks

After you complete your priority task, or if you feel the need to take a break from the project and get connected again, log back on and check your email. Dedicate the next "X" number of minutes to reading all of the new messages, and then respond to those which need you attention. When you are working on an email task, complete the task and then either move the email to an archive folder or delete it. Jumping from email to email is an inefficient use of time, and can leave your inbox cluttered with unnecessary emails. Clean out your inbox at the end of each email session

Email is not a real-time event; anyone sending an email should expect a timely response but not an immediate reply. If you are distracted from your current work activity by every incoming email message, then try scheduling email sessions periodically throughout the workday. Do not check your inbox in between each email session. When you are finished, shut down or minimize your email session and move on.

Check all of your voicemail messages -- though in today's unified environments, chances are good that you just picked up your voicemail messages in your email inbox. Return the phone calls that you did not already address in your email session, and then make any other necessary calls to clients or peers. Avoid the temptation to open and read emails while having a phone conversation. Your client or peer on the other end of the phone will notice your distraction, and the lack of attention that you are giving to them.

By changing a few habits and applying a little self-discipline, you can increase your work perform and efficiency by becoming a uni-tasker.

Do A Little Extra

Working from home is a privilege and telecommuting saves the employee the time and costs associated with traveling to the office. Spending extra time outside the established work hours to complete a project or to resolve a customer issue is small consideration for eliminating drive time, and management will notice and appreciate the extra effort.

Do One Thing at a Time, Do It Very Well, and Then Move On

Prioritize on what is most important task to accomplish, and then dedicate all of your energy to performing that specific task. When working on a project with a deadline, schedule time in your work day to focus exclusively on that project. When working at your desk, log off from your email and forward your phone to voicemail for specific periods of time -- at least 5 minute sessions (30 minutes is even better). Uni-tasking on a single project will increase the quality and accuracy of your work and allow you to complete the task sooner than allowing distractions and interruptions.

Granted, we cannot seal ourselves away from the rest of the work place and eliminate all interruptions. But very often, we can minimize the disruptions that we accept as normal daily activity with a little self discipline.

Teleworking & Telecommuting Made E-Z

Teleworking & Telecommuting (Made E-Z)
Teleworking & Telecommuting (Made E-Z)

More than 30 million American workers work beyond the four walls of the traditional office. They're teleworkers, and they're changing the nature of work - for themselves, their co-workers, their managers and their families. Using the best practices, and the insights of others, Teleworking/Telecommuting reveals how to create effective, alternative office programs that deliver efficient, productive, and satisfied workers.


Leave the Job Behind

At the end of the workday and after completing the little extra efforts, close down the home office. While it is important to show value to your employer by being an available and responsive while working from home, avoid compulsive behavior to check your email and voicemail beyond reasonable limits.

Do You Telecommute?

Do You Telecommute?

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Caution Worker Sign
Caution Worker Sign

Tell Us About Your Teleworking Experiences -- As an Employee or a Manager

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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      One more tip for working from a home office: Put a symbol of happiness on your desk. A happy face sticker on your computer, a small plush animal or teddy bear, or a picture of your smiling family. These little items can make your job a joy. Whenever you get a little frustrated one looks makes everything just a whole lot happier.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Your advice is crisp, concise and very precise to the point. One needs to be able to have the 'in-office' mentality as you rightly point out. Most often, where people tend to go wrong - is a 'too casual' in-home attitude and a feeling that 'no one' is watching! Excellent as always!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      You seem to know about just everything Anthony! Excellent tips, I especially like the avoid multi-tasking, that has to be the biggest one because its been so ingrained and we need to be released from that and do the one thing well and then move on. That "do a little extra" makes so much sense and all together your tips will help everyone be a successful telecommuter, excellent!