Making Work from Home Work for You

When it comes to benefit packages, we’re all familiar with healthcare, vacation time-off, and 401k plans. What’s one benefit that’s we all wish we had that’s often missing? A study conducted by Fractl found that one of the most sought-after job benefits in 2018 is the flexibility of working from home.

More of our work can be done online and the need for employees to be physically present in the office is diminishing. Increasingly, telecommuting options are popping up in job listings every day. While the premise of working remotely is no doubt attractive, it also presents its own challenges.

I’ve had the privilege of working remotely for just over two years. The flexibility of my position has allowed me to work from Philadelphia, Galway, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, NYC, Rome, Montreal, and Vermont. One thing I’ve learned? Work from home will only work for you with the right mindset. Here are my top 5 tips for killing it when telecommuting.

1. Constant Contact (during work hours)

Be accountable to yourself and your colleagues when you set your work hours. If you’re going to work on the same schedule as your team, be online (and productive) at the same time every day. Whether you use Slack, Hangouts, or email to communicate, make sure your avatar is “online” during work hours. It should never take you longer than five minutes to respond to quick requests. Check in with your colleagues and your bosses throughout the day as needed.

2. Set and Keep a Routine

“Work from home” does not mean “work from bed”.

Get dressed and put on your shoes. Don’t get in the habit of working in your pajamas every day — there’s something about getting ready for the day that puts you in work mode. Sit down at the same workspace at the same time every day. Consider planning your lunches in advance. Just because you have a full kitchen at your fingertips, doesn’t mean your lunch break is the time to utilize it. If you meal plan throughout the week, you won’t overeat, you won’t spend work hours cooking, and you won’t have to tackle dirty dishes or kitchen cleanup before returning to work.

3. Create a Workspace (and use it)

Do not go into your remote job expecting to work from under the blankets or at your kitchen counter every day. Create a workspace somewhere in your house and pretend that it’s your desk in the office. There are hundreds of cute Instagram-worthy home office ideas on Pinterest that will make you actually want to sit at your desk and work. Sitting for eight hours a day can be tiresome, so invest in a good work chair or sit on an exercise ball .Get up at regular intervals throughout the day to stretch like you would in the office.

If you’re not the type of person who can work alone every day, invest in a shared office space like WeWork or go to to a work-friendly coffee shop near your house for the first or second half of the day.

4. Be Consistent

Be consistent with the quality of work you produce. Underpromise and over deliver. Be on time. If you usually meet deadlines and produce high-quality work, continue to do so. Anytime that you’re late with a project or turn something in unfinished, your team will start to wonder if you’re really working. Just do your best!

5. Get Personal

Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can’t be ‘present’. Keep in touch with your colleagues like you would if you were in the office. On work anniversaries or birthdays, write them a heartfelt note. Follow your work friends on social media and get to know who they are (outside of Slack). During the holidays, send a physical card to the office. These little things remind your team that you aren’t just a name on a screen, but a friendly, real-life person who cares.

After two years of telecommuting, I can confidently say that work from home IS working for me. It does present its own challenges, but also its own rewards. Telecommuting has not only improved my work-life balance, but it has also greatly increased my productivity and performance within my company.

While everybody has their own working style, these are my best tips for how to thrive in a remote position.

Do you work remotely and have any tips of your own that I missed? Share them in the comments below!