According to Global Workplace Analytics, by 2014 over 3.7 million Americans had joined the telecommuting workforce. At the time, that amounted to around 3% of the working population, but it represented a 102% increase since 2005. In addition to offering employees increased flexibility and removing the headaches of commuting, remote work can save employers five-figures per employee per year, meaning there’s no reason to expect the prevalence of telecommuting to decrease anytime soon.
Despite providing a host of benefits, remote work also presents unique challenges, so here are a handful of best practices to help maximize efficiency when working from home.
1. Place a Premium on Communication
As you start a remote work arrangement – whether transitioning from on-site to off-site with the same employer or beginning a new project in a freelance capacity – establish clear communication protocols to which all parties agree. Depending on the situation, this may include daily morning check-ins, end-of-day roundups, or weekly video calls. Such standing commitments are essential, but always try to leave time for spontaneous conversations as well.
2. Utilize the Best Tools Available
Luckily, as technology continues to improve, communication is becoming both easier and more fruitful. Video conferencing, online chat-rooms, project management software, and collaborative document editors all enrich the process of working remotely and help closely mirror an on-site office experience. Always be on the lookout for new products and services that can make you seem available and engaged, regardless of whether you are an employer or employee. Just remember to invest in high-quality hardware – headsets, printers/scanners, webcams – in order to guarantee that you get the most out of your software.
In addition to offering employees increased flexibility and removing the headaches of commuting, remote work can save employers five-figures per employee per year
3. Optimize Your Environment
In order to really benefit from good technology, it’s critical you create an environment conducive to productivity. A home office need not be large, but it should be defined, as maintaining a physically and psychologically distinct workspace goes a long way toward forcing you into a professional mindset. This also helps establish clear boundaries for your family or roommates, signaling that even though you are home, you are fully occupied by your work. It doesn’t hurt to locate a suitable backup location – a coffee shop, a public library, a co-working space – both for days when unforeseen challenges (WiFi outages, unusual bustle from cohabitants) arise and for days when you simply feel like a change of pace.