Telecommuting Tips for Employees

Employees who telework often learn that working remotely is different than they expected and that it requires specific skills and habits. The following tips will help you get to work while at home.

1. Define your workspace. It can be easy to sit on the sofa with your laptop and expect to get work done. Experienced teleworkers will tell you they tried that and it simply doesn’t work. We are creatures of habit and most of us are used to lounging with our laptops to read the news, watch TV, play games and chat with friends and family. Establishing a workspace, even if it is your kitchen table, gives your brain a cue that it is time for work and not play.

2. Master the basics.

    • Add your telecommute schedule to your email signature line.
    • Set up call forwarding.
    • Know how to access the IU network and other tools you regularly use
    • Use Skype or Teams or another instant messaging client to stay connected to colleagues.
    • Plan for a video calls/meetings by making sure you know how to turn on your computer’s camera and microphone and being aware that your colleagues may be able to see the background behind you.

3. Set daily goals, track them and share your progress. You may be surprised by how differently the work day passes without the comings and goings of an office to break things up or influence what you do next. Start each day of telework by writing down what you need to achieve and then track your progress. Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm. Communicate with your supervisor and/or colleagues if you think your telework plan needs to be adjusted.

4. Eliminate distractions. Working from home can mean pets, children or a favorite hobby are only a few feet away. Depending on your living arrangement, you may need to hang a “do not disturb” sign so your family members don’t interrupt you. Pets often need a closed door to keep them away and you might need headphones to block the neighborhood noise.

5. Prioritize privacy. Whether you are in your home or a common area, take five minutes to assess the privacy of your workspace. Can someone standing behind you read your computer screen? Are your windows open so your neighbor can hear your phone call? What information do you need to secure before grabbing a cup of coffee or heading to the restroom? Your personal privacy matters too, so see if there anything around you that would not want visible during a video conference with your boss.

6. Stay connected. Many people say they do not call or instant message colleagues who are working remotely because they don’t want to bother them. Remember, they are working, not vacationing at home. You should feel confident about calling or messaging an employee who is teleworking anytime you would walk to their office or call them if you were working on-site. 

7. Dress for work. Just like sitting on the couch can make us feel a little too relaxed, wearing pajamas all day makes it hard to get into work mode. Dressing casually is definitely a perk of working at home but getting “ready for work” is a daily ritual that many telecommuters swear by.