Photo by: Christin Hume via Unsplash
More and more organizations are making telework options available to their employees. According to a 2017 survey conducted by GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 3.7 million employees in the United States now work from home at least half the time. Studies also show that teleworking opportunities are increasing in other countries around the globe.
Teleworking is so popular because it results in significant benefits for both employers and employees, as well as the environment. Those benefits often include cost savings, increased work/life balance, less traffic congestion, and a reduction in greenhouse gasses.
Many corporate training professionals are taking advantage of the teleworking phenomenon. Here at Langevin, the telework options have significantly increased now that we’re offering more and more virtual training courses. Equipped with a couple of computers and a telephone, I can now deliver several of our train-the-trainer courses from the comfort of my home office!
Teleworking offers significant advantages and flexibility. Let’s look at five best practices for teleworking success—a productive experience while working from home or an alternative workplace.
Get Ready for Work
While it may be tempting to stay in bed wearing your pajamas and watching morning talk shows, experts suggest you get yourself ready to do your job when teleworking. The same way you did when you trekked into a bricks and mortar office, make a habit of waking up at a specified time, taking a shower, combing your hair, and preparing for the day. Luckily, you can now get away with just wearing a t-shirt and sweat pants! (Unless, of course, you’re doing some sort of video conference; in that case make sure you are professionally presented.)
Establish Working Hours
Again, don’t let the morning talk shows derail you. Be sure to set some established working hours. For me, once I’m showered and dressed, I try to be in place and ready to work by 9:00 a.m. Keep in mind, the start and completion of your workday might have to be modified or adjusted because of scheduled conference calls, online meetings, or working with colleagues in different time zones. Nonetheless, you’ll likely feel more productive when you have a set schedule to follow.
Work in the Proper Environment
Teleworking, especially from home, will present you with many distractions. I once tried prepping for a course by lying in bed while reviewing my lesson plan and instructor notes. Bad idea! 15 minutes into my preparation, I’d fallen asleep.
I get my best work done when I’m in more of a structured office environment with all the proper tools and equipment. Due to space limitations, I don’t have a separate room for my home office. However, I do have a functional area in the main living space dedicated to nothing but work-related activities. Lastly, when I am in this space completing work tasks, I minimize any distractions (e.g. turn off the television).
Check in with Your Colleagues
Working off-site can often be an isolating experience. The dynamics of teleworking limits (or even takes away in some cases) your opportunity to have lively face-to-face interactions with your co-workers. Instead, you’ll likely be working alone, with the occasional visit from a retiree or a stay-at-home parent in the neighborhood. This isolation and solo work were my biggest challenges when transitioning from a traditional office environment to that of a teleworking environment.
To minimize the feeling of isolation, I find it very helpful to purposely check in with my colleagues and manager on a regular basis. Often, these check-in opportunities are work-related to communicate about projects and tasks. However, never underestimate the power of social check-ins to network and simply stay in touch. Utilize conference calling, video chat, email, and text messaging to help stay connected with your co-workers.
Get Out of the House
If you telework from home, it’s very possible to spend countless hours in the same space where you live and work. Coupled with being isolated from your colleagues, staying in the same environment can easily take a toll on your mental and physical well-being.
Most experts recommend you take periodic breaks from your teleworking environment. From time to time, I’ll take my materials to a local coffee shop or the community room at my apartment complex. While there, I get a change of scenery as I complete my work-related assignments. I’ve also found that simply going out to lunch once or twice a week is good mental and physical stimulation for the at-home teleworker. Visiting a local restaurant or café breaks the monotony of eating every meal in your own kitchen, which is probably only steps away from the desk in your home office.
As you might have guessed, teleworking is not without a few challenges here and there. However, these best practices may assist you in working around these challenges. My hope is that you’ll find yourself a happier and more productive teleworking professional. What are some specific ways that you work most effectively in a teleworking environment?
Jeff has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Speech Communications and Broadcasting from Western Kentucky University. Before pursuing his passion for training, Jeff worked as a television reporter, flight attendant, fitness instructor, and tour guide. Jeff started his career in training at the daily newspaper in Atlanta. Training seemed to be a natural fit for him since he’s always been a bit of a performer. When at home, you’ll catch Jeff watching a cooking show, recreating a dish he’s eaten abroad, or exploring one of the many great restaurants in the Chicago area. During the summer months, he hits the road to follow the talented drum corps of Drum Corp International—something he’s done since high school!