Sutton Enterprises

Telecommuting - Making It Work

May 8, 2017

Access to high-speed Internet, the rise in 'knowledge workers' who do most of their work over computers and phones, and the ability for teams to stay constantly connected even when they work thousands of miles away from each other are just a few examples of how technology is fueling telecommuting. As tempting as telecommuting can be, it's not for everyone. But for those who are suited to telecommuting, below are some suggestions for making it work.

1. Separate work life from home life – Learn how to say goodnight to your office.

A common mistake employees at home make is working too much. A home office means work is always there - beckoning from the wings. Many telecommuters, consequently, log much longer days or burn the midnight oil well past midnight.

Yes, I know isn’t it something? I find for me that without a commute to and from work, that I work much longer. Sometimes it can be hard to break away from your home office and call it a day. I can check my messages before I go to bed. Not always good.

2. Set Boundaries

It's essential to impose rules on yourself, family members and friends if you're working from home. That's why it's critical to set boundaries. Talk with your family members or housemates about the level of privacy you need, your schedule, and when you normally take your breaks. Establishing office hours early on will help limit interruptions later. The truth is trying to pay attention to your family and friends and your job at the same time will not work, and both will suffer as a result.

To treat your home office as if it were the traditional office located somewhere else. Establish 'do not disturb' guidelines, work hours, break times, and a policy on handling personal matters.

Whether it means your work is divided into increments throughout the day and evening or your goal is to mirror a more traditional timetable, creating healthy boundaries will help you better enjoy your professional life-- and your personal one.

3. Enjoy the Flexibility

The best perk for me when I had a an ill family member to check on was the flexibility. The flexibility to work non-traditional hours, or work toward a deadline as opposed to a set amount of hours per day. Break up your workday into smaller chunks by taking long breaks .You do not want to be stuck behind the desk and computer for long periods of time at home.

If you aren't focused and don't feel productive, don't force it. Take some time, go for a walk, get some space, and then go back to the drawing board. But don't force it -- your work will suffer. Yes, skip work when you're not productive. I use to feel guilty when I was not chained to my home office working. That guilt did not last because I realized I was not necessarily working traditional business hours and there was no reason waste time at a desk or computer being no-productive.

4. Remember the 20/20/20 Rule

To help reduce eye strain when working on the computer, doctors recommend looking away from the screen every 20 minutes and gazing at a distant object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Other ways to be kinder to your eyes: Adjust your monitor's brightness control, blink more frequently, and take breaks away from your desk. Always take the time to stretch your body.

There are many more suggestion that can give you guidance but if you start with these you have a healthy start at making telecommuting work for you.

Dianne Floyd Sutton has been telecommuting for over 28 years.

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