Sunday, December 28, 2014

Telecommuting Basics

Are you thinking about working from home, part-time or full-time? Here are some basics that you need to have. Telecommuting can change your life positively, and give you more work-life balance. But, before this happens, you have to have the proper setup. Here are a few things to start with.

1. Make sure you've got reliable network connection: One of the foremost requirements of working from home is that you are able to stay connected with your office and your partners. This has to do with your accessibility and basically your ability to do work like you would in an office. You need to access databases, shared work space, as well as your voice calls (via VoIP). You cannot make do with intermittently "OK" connections. Remember that people need to get in touch with you too. It is not just about connections that you can make do with.

2. Implement checks / monitors: Like a real office, you need to stay on top of systems you rely on, such as your network and VoIP. There are a good number of monitoring companies out there. Your best bet is VoIP Spear, which offers trial accounts and affordable service packages depending on the size of your organization. 

With 24/7/365 monitoring, you ensure that your system's performance is at par with your goal of always being available/accessible even when you work from home. If it's not, you can do something about it immediately.

3. Go to the cloud: Cloud computing has made working from anywhere easier and more efficient. Applications and files can be centrally located in the cloud servers. You can access this from anywhere, as long as you have secure internet access.

Having your files on cloud servers also makes collaboration with your co-workers and partners easier. You can conduct meetings, view, share, and revise files using the same platform, as well as access files, databases and such.

At the very least, you get the peace of mind knowing that all you latest files are secure in one location. In case of networking emergencies and you happen to lose connection, the office can continue to function with your data hosted in the cloud.

4. Create a conducive work space: While it is tempting to conjure images of you working from bed or the kitchen table as you telecommute, this is not really ideal. The bed is associated with sleep; while the kitchen table is associate with food and family time. These aren't space where you're supposed to be doing hard work. Plus, in all likelihood, you will run into distractions while in this space. It could be in the form of a family member, or cooking that needs to be done.

When you work from home, it is ideal to designate a space where you can have some privacy and place to work. Locate a corner or room where there's little "traffic." If this has a work desk and a comfortable chair, then great!

Once you've designated a space, meet with your family member or housemates. Tell them about the work that you need to do from home, and how you need a conducive environment. Ask that they respect your isolation when you spend time in your work space.

For your part, make sure to schedule ample time to spend working in your space. Be conscious of possible distractions and limit the "little extras" (such as indulging in an afternoon nap or playing online games) that have become so doable when you allow it.

5. Have a plan: Another must-have when you want to do effective telecommuting is a plan. This includes a daily to-do list, as well as weekly deliverables and work schedules. This may sound off tangent to the common idea of how it is to work from home -- freedom, free time and all that. The reality is that you need a plan more when you telecommute. You will be faced with too many distractions, such that you really need to decide on what you should be doing at each exact moment and sticking to this decision.

6. Have discipline: When you have everything set up, don't forget to add in some discipline. This goes a long way when you face the myriad of temptations typically faced by someone telecommuting. There is always room for distractions, of course. It is one of the fun things about working from home. But, after you allow yourself a little indulgence, always go back to your scheduled work. This is the only way you can get things done while telecommuting.

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