The Internet has changed our lives dramatically.
We now have access to information from anywhere
in the world. Movies download instantly to
our TVs. We can cheaply and easily stay in touch with
friends and family. News, gossip and other information flit
around the world at light speed in 140-character
The biggest change, however, has been
the Internet’s impact at the workplace. For a lot of
people, it’s made the brick-and-mortar office obsolete.
With reliable, high-speed connections at home,
employees are asking their managers if they can work
there instead of the office.
Technically, it’s possible for a lot of positions, but there are some jobs
and personalities that a manager might prefer to keep under tight
supervision. If your request to work at home is approved,
it means your managers value your contribution and trust your work ethic.
It’s not a license to goof off. Chances are your performance will be monitored
much more closely once you start clocking in from home.
For employees, working remotely can help you maintain a better work-life
balance and lower commuting, wardrobe and dining costs.
Allowing employees to work from home can also benefit companies.
Offering a flexible work environment can help attract and retain top talent.
Some companies have even been able to reduce real estate costs and other
overhead associated with maintaining offices.An arrangement that allows you
to work at home requires more than your manager’s approval.
Working remote Tips
Here are some suggestions to maximize a smooth transition from
working at the office to working from home:
1: Hardware and Software
Before you ask to work from home, make sure you have a proper workspace available to you. Both your computer and your Internet connection need to support the demands of your job. That means both must be reliable. It’s frowned upon when a home worker can’t function because the home Internet connection has taken the day off. Also, if you work with a specialized program, can your home PC support it? If not, do you have (or can you get) a company laptop that is capable of running the software?
Keep in mind that as a home worker, you’ll be expected to troubleshoot minor problems with your system. Some companies do invite home workers to bring their systems into the office to install corporate software and resolve problems. However, unless you’re married to an IT staffer, it’s unlikely a tech will make a trip to
If your job requires you to work within the company’s firewall, you’ll need to remotely access it. The most common way of doing this is to use virtual private networking software that tunnels into the corporate network and encrypts traffic going in and out of it. Most companies have VPN solutions in place, and the technology is available for Windows and Macintosh computers.
Before you tunnel in, your company may require you to have the latest anti-virus software installed. This will protect its network while you’re accessing it. It also will prevent important company documents from being destroyed or swiped by malware on your computer.
3: Time Management
Remote workers face two major time-management traps: Wasting time and giving away time.
The first category is often the result of a lack of oversight. Without a manager present, the worker may be tempted to spend too much time surfing websites, chatting with family or on other non-work-related activities. They are violating the employer’s trust, and that will eventually be noticed as productivity and performance degrade. The second time- management trap is the opposite. Some home workers find it difficult to stop working. They do not have to catch a train or hop in the car to make it home for dinner. So they continue working. The workday bleeds into family time and, eventually, spouses and children notice. If the problem persists, performance will degrade due to burnout.
The key to working remotely is managing time effectively. Workers need to
be as organized and punctual as they were when working from the corporate office.
At the same time, they need to be able to step aside when the
workday is over and enjoy life beyond work.
4: Dealing with Distractions
There are distractions at the office (gossip, politics, deliverymen and chatty co-workers), but nothing
compares to the infinite number of distractions at home. Everyday things such as television, family
members, the telephone, neighbors, and even the need to run a quick errand can lure you away from your home office and the work you need to be doing. As tempting as these distractions may be, you must ignore them and focus on the job you’re paid to do. Sometimes, dealing with distractions can be as simple as not answering the phone when the call isn’t work-related, or closing the door to your home office. If you must run an errand during the day, tell your manager first and explain why you have to do it during working hours.
5: Have a Plan
When your request to work remotely is approved, sit down with your direct manager and talk through his or her expectations. Does your boss expect you to check in when you start the workday and check out at the end? Some managers ask their employees to send a quick note summarizing the day’s accomplishments and activities. You’ll also want to make sure you know your manager’s communications preferences. Some prefer phone calls while others ask to stay in touch via email or instant messages. Finally, encourage the manager to be open about any problems that might arise. You’d rather hear about these little annoyances over the phone than be called into the office to discuss them after they’ve snowballed into major performance problems.
You may no longer have an office, but you still need to stay connected with your co-workers. This can be a challenge when you work at home. First, if you are a remote worker, make sure you know your manager’s expectations. Are you expected to be available every minute of the workday by instant message, email or telephone? Second, make sure you are on the right email distribution lists for corporate and staff announcements. When you’re in the office, you may get all your news from co-workers while in the break room. That won’t happen when your break room is your family kitchen so be sure to maintain a network of coworkers so you don’t fall too far out of the loop. Third, be extra diligent about promptly responding to emails and other communications from your managers and co-workers. Finally, make it a point to visit the office on a regular basis. This will help ensure that your being out of sight doesn’t mean you’re out of mind.
Thanks the TIB Team