Metis Communications has been an advocate of telecommuting since its day of incorporation in 2005. The label on teammates working from home was always “remote worker,” but in 2013 we decided to shed the negative connotation around the word “remote” and change the term to “workers without borders (WWBs).” Until recently, we had three to four WWBs, but in January 2014, Metis adopted the practice companywide. Not only do all teammates work from home on Fridays, but as an employee’s tenure with the company grows, so does her work-from-home privileges. I am one of the original WWBs, and from years of experience, I can offer a list of best practices for anyone whose commute doesn’t take her beyond her own front door.
Create a morning routine. Pretend you are actually heading into the office. Set your alarm, exercise, shower, get dressed and eat breakfast. Don’t just roll out of bed and settle into the workday in your pajamas.
Eliminate distractions. Just because you work from home does not mean you are without those office distractions. The dog barking, dishwasher running or UPS delivery can all be distractions to a WWB. Eliminate them as much as you can so that you can be your most productive self. When on conference calls, use the mute button or move to an appropriate quiet zone.
Create an office space. This piggybacks on #2. Create a comfortable, quiet workspace. Make work easy. Have everything readily available, just as you would in the office. Ensure you have the necessary tools to perform your job.
Take lunch. When working from home, it is easy to get sucked into your computer, eat at your desk and never leave your workspace. Take a break, go for a walk, refresh and expel some energy.
Pick up the phone. Instant messaging is sometimes overused as a form of communication and has no tone, often resulting in miscommunication or blurred lines. Don’t have difficult conversations or ask hard questions through instant messaging. Reach out and touch someone.
Don’t lose the human interaction. At times you may feel isolated and out of the loop with your teammates when you are not in the office day in and day out. Make yourself heard. Create a Skype video chat or Google hangout. And again, use the phone.
Get out of the house. Being a WWB doesn’t mean you have to work from home. Try some variety and move locations. Libraries, coffee shops and even parks can be great alternatives for changing perspectives and getting the creative or analytical juices flowing.
Know when to shut down. It is easy to lose track of time, and before you know it is 7 or 8 p.m. and you are still working. If the office closes at 5:30 p.m., so should you, deadlines permitting.
Dispel the myths of remote work. There are many misconceptions that those who work remotely are not accountable and don’t work as much as those who are physically in the office. Be available to your teammates and get s**t done.
Communicate. This is the most important best practice of all. Communicate with your team, including those in and out of the office. Share conversations and brainstorms with each other. Let others know when you are offline. Keep your teammates in the loop.
Do you have any tips on working remotely? Tweet us @MetisComm.
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