Working from home offers benefits to both employers and employees. Employers enjoy lower costs through not having to maintain their employees in an office environment, and employees enjoy a better work/life balance, which leads to greater job satisfaction, less absenteeism and higher productivity.
Working from home is not for everyone, however, and this article examines what a remote worker needs to be able to work productively outside an office environment.
The right attitude
It takes a certain kind of person to be able to work remotely. If you need to be constantly supervised and told what to do, then you are probably not that kind of person. If you need to have other people always around you to feed off and interact with, you are also probably not the ideal remote worker.
The ideal remote worker is someone who is comfortable with their own company and can work unsupervised for long hours at a time. Even more importantly, they are self-disciplined. This means they can sit down at their workstation on a daily basis and complete their tasks without succumbing to the many distractions that home life brings.
The right approach
As well as having the right attitude to work, a remote worker needs to have the right approach to how they work if they want to be productive at home.
This means having a dedicated space to work in that is separate from home life, ideally behind a closed door. It also means having a strict schedule or plan and adhering to it over the course of a working day.
It means prioritising tasks and working through them systematically, and ignoring or eliminating any distractions or interruptions that might occur.
It also means achieving the right balance between work and rest, adhering to work times that suit your energy levels (such as morning or afternoon), taking regular breaks as you would at the office and looking after yourself by eating well and exercising in your down time.
The right tools
Working productively from home also means having the right tools to allow you to function as you would in the office. A dedicated space with desk, phone, computer and filing system would lend itself to efficient work practices more than balancing a laptop on your knee in front of the television.
Good communications with your office are also vital. A VoIP-enabled smart phone connected to your company’s hosted PBX service would be an ideal setup. This would allow you to access all the amenities of the office, such as email, fax, instant messaging, voice mail and a range of call handling features, and to keep in real-time contact with work colleagues via video conferencing and cloud-based collaboration tools.
Working away from the office requires self-discipline, organisation and the right technology, and a combination of all three is the best way to ensure that the work you do is both satisfying and productive.