Top Tips for Telecommuting

Woman working at home

The best ways to maintain your professional workspace and routine while working from home.

By Mary Hanula, IFA

With the recent COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic causing many to work from home, people must find the balance they were able to create of personal v. professional that was already instilled at their office. Here’s how to create the workspace, routine and effective work ethic you need while working from home.

Make sure you are connected. You can’t do your job if you are not able to reach the internet, talk with someone on the phone or sign onto your office’s VPN. This is a time to double-check that you have working WiFi, your phone is able take and receive calls and you have a system ready for video chat if need be. Also, make sure that your computer and phone are fully charged each morning, creating a ready to go environment that you know is fully functioning.

Try not to work from your bed. This one may sound weird, but think about it. What type of environment are you in at work that helps you perform well? If possible, try to recreate it at home, with a desk or table serving as a makeshift place for your computer, papers, books, etc. Make sure to separate your personal and professional environment to ensure the best work performance.

Remember to take a break. Think of something you enjoy doing — perhaps reading a few pages of a book, taking a walk or listening to one of your favorite songs — and reward yourself during the day by giving yourself some time to take a break. The goal is that you will work harder when you know you have a little time to let your mind hit the reset button from stress and more. You'll perform better when you're not burned out.

Keep a routine. Although you may be working from home, you’re still working the same job with the same responsibilities. Make sure to outline a routine that you can hold yourself to, enforcing regulations and stability throughout your days working from home. Do you usually get up at a certain time? When will you workout? Is answering masses of emails from the day still your 4 o’clock reminder? Just because you’re working from home does not mean you can skimp out on these guidelines you’ve set for yourself. They’re there for a reason and you’re familiar with them — use them to your advantage.

Communicate. Maybe it sounds like a given, but it is one of the most important tips. Whatever your team chooses to partake in as a form of online community work spaces, make sure to communicate with them as you would in the office. It can be easy to fade into a solo routine when you’re not physically around these people, which is something to avoid. Video chats and voice calls for meetings or discussions are key, as they help you socialize and make a concept way easier to understand. Email never goes out of style, or even instant messaging on platforms. Make sure you are still keeping in touch with your coworkers and asking questions, participating in meetings and all the activities you would normally be doing in the office. It will also help you to not feel as isolated as you would if you did not contact anyone.

Explain your rules and routine to your family or roommates. Some people may see you working from home as an opportunity to hang out, chat or even go do something. Parents with young children may even be taking on double-duty while they work from home, which is essentially working two jobs at once. If possible, explain to the people you live with what working from home means to you, what they can do to help enforce your routine and how you would like them to interact with you throughout the day. By giving them a clear idea of what you are doing and what you need to do your job from home, just as you communicate at the office, you’ve already helped create a more professional workspace both in your mind and your home. 

Whether you are familiar with telecommuting from home or just starting out, these key insights should give you some ideas on how to stay prepared, focused and engaged throughout the day.

Mary Hanula is the Content Manager and Editor-in-Chief of Franchising World magazine for the International Franchise Association.