Arment Dietrich

Five Tips for Working from Home

By: Arment Dietrich | November 23, 2011 | 
37

Telecommuting

Today’s guest post is written by Molli Megasko.

Whenever I tell people I work from home, they respond with an “ah…”

But being a telecommuter means more than wearing your PJ’s all day (although, uh, that is a really great perk).

As virtual companies are on the rise, you might be presented with the opportunity to work remotely. And if you’re a person who procrastinates or loses focus easily, working from home might be more of a challenge than you realize.

I’ve been working remotely for more than two years now and can sum up my experience into five tips that will help you telecommute successfully.

  1. Phone and Skype – Make these communication channels you new best friends. Sure, email and social media work for getting the message across but true conversations and brainstorms happen vocally. I make sure to have a few calls scheduled each day whether with clients or colleagues.
  2. Start good habits– If you’re new to working from home, the first few months are the most important. The way you work now will most likely be the form you take months later so wake up early, get a coffee, and get to your computer. Don’t turn on the TV or start other bad habits because it will become too easy to do later and your boss/clients/peers will notice.
  3. Overcommunicate – You might find it annoying but I send weekly updates to my boss, weekly statuses to the company, and weekly check-ins to my clients (on top of my daily calls). It’s hard to feel part of a group when you’re miles away. By overcommunicating what you’re working on, you stay top-of-mind and build trust.
  4. Treat yourself – While you may not have the luxury of free office supplies or happy hour with co-workers, remember the pros of working from home. Take little breaks after you finish a project or assignment. Go play with your dog or read to your kids. Just make sure to set time limits and use those breaks as rewards for something done at work.
  5. Know how to turn it off– This is the hardest thing I had to learn and frankly, I’m still working on it.  My computers and office space are in my kitchen, and I live in a 600 square foot apartment in Manhattan. You do the math. I find it too easy to keep working when my husband is working late or nothing good is on TV. This is what they call burn out, or as I call it “hermit-crabbing.” While you’re setting your habits, remember it’s also important to shut down and work on your work-life-balance.

If you’re a telecommuter or have worked remotely, share your tips here on how to be successful while working virtually.

  • byronfernandez

    Thanks for this Molli. As someone who just recently joined a mobile agency/firm, this was timely and provided some great insights. Though I’m not sure I permanently want to work from home, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time or place in my career. Your thoughts are appreciated and spot-on

    • MolliMegasko

      @byronfernandez Even if it’s for a short time, I think everyone should work from home at some point or another. You really find out who you are in terms of work-style.

  • Everything very helpful! Except for the picture of the naked guy at the computer. I would NEVER do that….

  • I know of some folks who do get dressed for working at home, even if they don’t have a Skype chat scheduled; they feel more ‘ready’ to work but for me… PJs work just fine. 🙂 I think the other issue is the place, the office; you’re challenged by your space, but even just carving out one table/desk – that helps make it ‘easier’ to shut it down and walk away.

    I’m guilty of a lot of multitasking and time shifting, a reward to myself to set my own schedule. But more often than not, I do as you suggest: get the ‘big chore’ done first, knock out a bunch of tasks, often even before I open email or fire up the old Twitter. Keeps the day from being sidetracked. If you do find yourself working late – as I do, natural vampire – if I can, I’ll treat myself to a little extra sleep or an afternoon ‘off’ to do other things. Not like the calls, emails, tweets won’t hunt you down anyway. 😉 FWIW.

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  • I think it’s a good idea to schedule a video call each day. I will confess to arriving “at work” with a bad case of severe bed head two days in a row. Complete with the rubbed bald spot. This is no way to conduct business. and must stop. Show some self-respect for pete’s sake!!!

    • MolliMegasko

      @Lisa Gerber You should see my hair today. I shut the blinds because I don’t even want the birds to get a look at me.

  • LauraDunkleyWatson

    I have been working from home for over a year now and share a small space with family members and a dog. Keeping a routine time to start my computer has saved me. I do enjoy the perks of being able to take the dog out for a walk at lunch and being able to schedule an afternoon run if i worked late the night before. I miss being with people and unfortunately video calls just don’t cut it for me. So now i schedule client calls whenever i can. Yes, my mileage goes up a bit but clients like the face to face every once in awhile. And little do they know..but they are saving my sanity too.

    • MolliMegasko

      @LauraDunkleyWatson I miss working with people every day. Some of my greatest friends are from work, so not having those side conversations is hard to get used to. BUT there is always GChat!

  • Great article, I completely agree with the overcommunicate bit. People in your organisation do value proper and regular communication. People need to know what you’re doing, why you’ve done it and what you plan to do.

  • Great article, I completely agree with the overcommunicate bit. People in your organisation do value proper and regular communication. People need to know what you’re doing, why you’ve done it and what you plan to do.

  • I like the idea of treating oneself, but the breaks taken for consuming the treats should not be longer than the working period (and) they should not make you obese. Yeah, I feel guilty for both 🙂

  • I like number 2. start as you mean to go on, and if you find your hitting the snooze button to many times have a reset at the start of the next week!

    I know a consultant who works from home, and each morning he dons his suit and tie and drives round the block to arrive at “the office”.

    What ever keeps the motivation up, especially if your doing it for yourself.

    • MolliMegasko

      @ChrisBradley I started with getting ready in the morning to start off with good habits, but suit and tie? I love working from home because I don’t have to dress up!

      • @MolliMegasko Agreed a suit and tie is too much, but if that helps him keep on top form then each to their own I suppose.

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  • joecardillo

    Shutting down at the end of the day is definitely the hardest thing for me, if you’re a perfectionist or workaholic by nature that’s going to be difficult. Having a dedicated space, if possible, helps with that, but other tips include setting a timer / watch alarm, having someone call you, or planning a non-work activity (e.g. shopping, meeting people for dinner) that forces you to meet a deadline.

    If you tend to get most of your friends from where you are employed you’ll also have to make an effort to build a network outside of work / engage in other activities.

    • MolliMegasko

      @joecardillo Your last point is a great one to bring up. I’ve struggled with this and it’s more important than some may think. I’ve joined clubs and groups and make sure to have plans with non-work friends to get me out.

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  • Hello there!You had a strong stamina to do all the works.Hope that I could do that.You always do the multi tasking.You are incredible.Thank you for including me here.

  • Out of all, #5 is the hardest to do! And since everything revolves around the computer, leisure browsing will automatically evolve into replying business mails, research and eventually, writing that business proposal.

  • ryancox

    I loved this Molli! As someone that’s been a telecommuter for 5’ish years now, I’ve failed at this far more than I’ve succeeded. I’m literally going to print this off and hang it as a reminder to both a) stay focused and b) HOW to stay focused. lol Thanks!

  • This is a great article. I’ve found that it’s important to discover your working style. I have written some of my best content in the late evening.

    • MolliMegasko

      @bolderimage That’s another really good point. Not everyone works the same way, but as long as long as the work gets done, on time in quality-style, then you’ve figured out what works for you.

  • Good tips here. I find working from home means that you as a worker, client or employee have been a great deal of trust which really really should be translated to solid hard work you would do if your client/boss was sitting next to you the whole time.

    I work from home for a couple of different organisations and people so as a Windows user I’ve even created completely separate computer accounts to ensure and maintain workflow.

    • MolliMegasko

      @YasinAkgun very interesting. Organization is a good thing to start up front.

  • AmilyJoe

    Hey molli ..thanks for sharing your experience in terms of tips.I really appreciate your effort. I agree with you that these five points are really important and one who want to do work from home should consider these tips before anything else. I am also doing work from home for the past 1 year and i also give the importance of skype andovercommunication, the other points are also very important.

  • AmilyJoe

    Hey molli ..thanks for sharing your experience in terms of tips.I really appreciate your effort. I agree with you that these five points are really important and one who want to do work from home should consider these tips before anything else. I am also doing work from home for the past 1 year and i also give the importance of skype andovercommunication, the other points are also very important. I also share my experience in this site http://www.workfromhomejobs.co.uk/

  • Clarity4theBoss

    @escarpmentbr @WonderMoms_ca – Thanks for the RT’s 🙂

    • WonderMoms_ca

      @clarity4theboss Going to read that later:)

  • lesyocum

    @MonetizeUrTwit @youngatheartcomFive Here is a great tip This pays EVERYONE everyday with NO REFERRALS NEEDED EVER.
    http://t.co/FEdb3kMT

  • P00NSTER

    Good advice!..@AmeenaFalchetto @ginidietrich

  • SandraWorldwide

    sandraworldwide101 Thanks for this post Molli. I can TOTALLY relate! The “turning off” is indeed the hardest thing. People tell me I must have so much more time now that I work at home, but I find it’s just the opposite! Having a structured schedule with a few pointers throughout the day has helped me somewhat…for example, dog walking! but I am sure there are others! All the best!

  • Good post

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