Telecommuting: Tips for Working from Home Successfully
The outbreak of COVID-19 has marked a before and after in our lives. Nothing will ever be the same! Teleworking is one of the protagonists of these days that, in addition, has come to stay. Some and some of us practiced it before on a regular basis. It has allowed others to keep your job. And, for everyone, it is a solution to face the future successfully. Let’s find out how to work from home. It’s time to open doors to new opportunities!
I propose a quick and very practical review of everything related to this practice: the technological and mental conditions, how to organize yourself or what advantages it brings you, among other ideas. You only have to put the initiatives to apply it. I assure you that there are infinite possibilities and all of them represent an advance in your expectations.
What is teleworking and its different modalities?
Telecommuting is nothing more than the performance of your professional activity without being physically in the company, either partially or all the time. The most genuine teleworker is the one who carries out his work activity from home . This is what has been implemented now with the strict measures to limit mobility. But I do not want to stop reminding you of other variants that may be useful in the future.
A formula that you can assess is to go to a teleworking center , where technological and material resources are shared. This coworking space is an interesting option for those of you who do not have your own means, especially at the time of startup and until you check if it works for you. The fee paid is very affordable and, furthermore, it is an expense that the Treasury allows you to deduct. Don’t give up telecommuting because you can’t invest in the equipment right now!
Finally, there are the so-called itinerant teleworkers . They are those whose task is to go to the headquarters or homes of customers and stay connected with your company through different mobile devices. It is the profile of visitors, technical assistance or official distributors of certain brands, among others.
Can we all work from home?
Teleworking can not only be useful for professionals or freelancers who have their own business. It is also applicable in large companies and employees, provided that your specific occupation allows it.
The classics that come to mind for all of us are jobs related to administrative tasks, customer service, sales and marketing. But, there are sectors such as computing that are also among the most benefited from this formula. Software creators, who deal with maintenance and user assistance, design and updating of web pages…
Finally, a wide range of professionals such as journalists, translators, content creators, financial analysts or graphic designers, for example. And areas in which a great expansion of teleworking is expected are online teaching, psychological care or private medicine, tax advisors. Also event or travel organizers. As you can see, there are many activities that you can focus on if you are interested in working from home .
The good figures related to teleworking
Are you one of those who wonder what is attractive about staying home to work, without contact with colleagues and assuming more responsibilities? Off course, I understand you. Not everything is positive when we talk about teleworking. Later I will analyze with you its main pros and cons.
But, to begin with, I leave you these arguments in the form of general data in its favor. I have collected them from an experiment carried out in a large travel agency in China. These are their conclusions:
- Telecommuters are 13% more productive than when they go to the workplace.
- Working from home implies a 50% reduction in job burnout and a similar increase in satisfaction.
- The company Crip, in which the experiment was carried out, also benefited. It is estimated that he increased his benefits by about $2,000 per worker.
To finish off this issue of numbers, according to what CEPYME News has published , 40% of jobs in Spain that today are face-to-face could be done from home . In Europe, in fact, more than 30% of companies in countries such as Finland, Holland, Iceland or Sweden are already committed to teleworking. And works!
The advantages you will enjoy if you decide to work from home
Without a doubt, those benefits that I have pointed out to you are interesting. But, the most logical thing is that you keep asking yourself what direct advantages such a radical change in your work habits has for you. And that is what I am most interested in conveying to you. I collect the most important
The first is more than obvious. Telecommuting is a very effective tool for reconciling personal and family life . Well, if your first experience is now, in full confinement due to the coronavirus and with the children at home, it is normal that you do not visualize this advantage. But, think about the return to normality with the little ones at school. Working at home in those circumstances is very different.
But, in addition, the saving in time and expenses is very significant . You forget to go to the workplace. Those of us who live in big cities know very well what this waste of time represents in our lives. And no spending on gasoline or parking, you don’t even have to buy the transport pass. Or pay to eat out. Even, in the long run, you reduce your bill for clothing or footwear… which all adds up.
In general, telecommuting reduces stress levels . The possibility of organizing yourself, the flexibility of schedules, your greater autonomy makes you feel less pressured and, therefore, you work with less anxiety. It also improves your self-esteem because you feel directly responsible for your successes.
We must not underestimate, far from it, the positive effect that teleworking has on our health . You eat at home, without haste and a healthier diet. Even that time you save on transfers can be dedicated to doing some exercise, even if it’s just going for a walk.
How can you avoid the inconvenience of telecommuting?
Of course, working from home also has its negative side. However, most of these inconveniences stem from our mistakes. This is good news because by following the advice that I will give you later, it is more than likely that you will not experience any of these problems.
There are basically two enemies of telecommuting: social isolation and disorganization . The truth is that these weeks in which we have no choice but to stay at home are serving as an accelerated master’s degree for all of us so as not to fall into these two problems. I deal more extensively with the organization in the advice section.
And, to avoid the feeling of loneliness, you know how effective it is to enhance our social networks. But don’t stay there. Physical contact is just as important. Nothing as easy as meeting up for coffee or lunch with colleagues from time to time or making a visit to the company.
What do you need to telecommute?
Then we will analyze the different strategies that can help you organize yourself to make the most of the advantages of teleworking. But, before taking the step, you have to know what the minimum equipment is so that working at home does not become an ordeal. And, it is that, you must not only be able to telework, you have to do it with a certain comfort and efficiency .
And I tell you from experience. I don’t know if you have seen how frustrating it is to have a computer that takes half an hour to start up or that “hangs” when you open two programs at the same time. Worse still is suffering from that poor quality internet connection that cuts out every two times three. These are just some examples.
For this reason, I consider that this basic kit is essential for you to take the first steps. Yes or yes, you need to have:
- The ideal internet connection is 1GB fiber optic . If you don’t have access to it, choose an ADSL with maximum upload speed. You could even use the 4G of your mobile, although I do not recommend it because you need a plan with unlimited data.
- A computer . I personally do not recommend tablets, much less mobile phones, as a basic tool for teleworking. The more technological devices you have, the better. But if you have to bet on one, you need a light, compact laptop with a good battery and a video camera, as indicated in this article in the 20Minutes newspaper .
- Correct lighting . This point is as essential as that of technology. If not, the damage to your eyes and attention span is significant. Locate your table near a window or source of natural light. Also, get yourself a table lamp with an articulated arm and a LED lamp, if possible with adjustable intensity.
Don’t forget security
Surely you have read different recommendations on the best computer programs that are used to work remotely. Apart from an email and instant messaging service, you need a storage program, better in the cloud like Dropbox.
Another essential software is the one that allows shared tasks, that is, several team members working at the same time and with everyone having access to editing. In this sense, Google Drive is very practical, easy to use and… free! Of course, all the programs and applications you use must be official to ensure against failures or errors.
But, if there is something essential, inalienable, it is to guarantee the security of both the data and your equipment . Of course, it is preferable that you work from a home network to a public Wi-Fi network. In addition, you have to install the most effective firewalls or antivirus and intrusion detection systems. If you work for a company, access to your files, documents and data should be configured in the environment of a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Set up a specific space to work at home
Ok, now that you have the tools to work remotely, the next step is to decide where you are going to do it . If you had the idea that this is a matter of sitting on the sofa with the TV on and the laptop on top, you can forget about it. It is essential that you take it seriously, so start by setting up your office.
It is true that most of us live in small houses. You probably don’t have a room that you can reserve exclusively for yourself. Or if? Because a good option is to give it a double use, a bedroom at night and a workplace during the day. A minimal investment in a few pieces of furniture is enough for you to completely transform the chosen room in a few minutes.
Set up a telecommuting corner in three steps
- All you need to turn your bed into a sofa are a few cheerful cushions and a quilt or quilt. Although this detail seems unnecessary to you, with this change you help your mind to get into work mode. How are you going to convince yourself that you are in a work environment, seeing your bed every time you look up? If you transform it, you really increase your ability to concentrate.
- A folding table . What it is about is that they have a comfortable corner to telework, but that you can pick it up at the end of the day. You close the computer and close the table. There is a very simple model that consists of a board, of different dimensions, with a bracket that is screwed to the wall and that is very practical. You can find it, of course!, at IKEA or Amazon.
- Storage space . Although what I really recommend to you to deal with this topic is that, while you incorporate teleworking into your life, you modify some unnecessary habits. The main one, that you stop using paper. First, you save space and time to file. In addition, it is a measure that contributes to combating climate change. And don’t worry, invoices and digital documents are fully valid. In any case, if you want to be calmer, you can get an electronic signature.
Of course, I invite you to reserve your biggest investment to get a good work chair , one of these ergonomic ones that will prevent your back from suffering more than necessary. After a few days teleworking, I’m sure you’re going to agree with me on this point.
Essential tips for telecommuting
Well, now you know what telecommuting consists of, what activities it is useful for and what technical tools you need. We have to review the advice related to your work habits, how you face your teleworking day every day. They are as decisive as the technological constraints! I almost suggest that you make a list and have it always visible as a stimulus.
- Discipline . You have no excuse to break your own rules. Take your time to get organized. Be realistic when analyzing the real time you have , what are your best working hours, when you have to take care of other obligations… And establish a work schedule that you must adhere to as strictly as when you went to your company.
- routines . What is this about jumping from bed to work table? Keep the same routines as someone who goes to work outside. You can relax a little and dedicate a few more minutes to breakfast, or to the shower, but comply with all those activities. And, take off your pajamas and even avoid your tracksuit! It is not about putting on a tie or heels either, but it is important that your image is that of a working Monday, not that of a Sunday off at home.
- Set break times . Nor is it effective that telecommuting becomes your obsession and you are connected at all hours. It is proven that your productivity grows if you take the appropriate breaks. At the very least, take a few minutes every hour to stretch your legs and take your eyes off the computer.
- Difference personal and work life . Turn off the specific devices you use to work at home, once you finish the day. You have to learn to disconnect. Nobody is essential 24 hours, not even a teleworker!
Family and telework
In an ideal world, each member of the family has their own space and the privacy of others is respected. When we come down to reality, we see that it is not what we live in our house. The children fluttering everywhere, the teenager with the TV on, our couple who comes in every few minutes to ask us something or to complain because they can’t handle everything. Who can telecommute like this?
I know I told you that telecommuting improves family life. And this picture that I have presented to you seems to contradict me. The key is, again, organization . Make your work day compatible with the hours when the house is empty and set aside time to share it with your loved ones in recreational activities. In the end, it’s about acting like when work is away from home.
Telecommuting is an option available to everyone. It is a useful tool both to reconcile personal and work life, and to increase your income with an extra. In addition, the investment you have to make is minimal and the benefits it brings you are many. Take advantage of these days of confinement due to the coronavirus to get used to it and check your shortcomings. I assure you that there is a way to telecommute waiting for you to discover it.