The nature of work is changing and a growing number of workers are opting for the flexibility to work from home. According to the FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics 2017 State of Telecommuting in the US Workforce survey, in 2017, “nine million U.S. employees, or 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time; up from 1.8 million in 2005. Employers are also starting to offer flexibility to work from home as a way to retain existing, and attract new talent.
While many appreciate the advantage of having flexibility at work, there can also be some pitfalls, such as feeling isolated or disconnected. If you’re one of the many who is working from home, here are some tips to make your work experience more productive and effective:
Create a good work space
Optimize your productivity by setting up an effective and inviting workspace, complete with ergonomic considerations for your chair, desk, headset, and lighting. It is worth the investment, if you want working from home to be a long-term option for yourself. While it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas, putting on comfortable clothes creates a work mindset. If you live with others, including children, communicate your availability as well as any boundaries you want to set around interruptions and household noise.
Set a work schedule and stick with it
The good news for early risers as well as night owls is that working from home provides you with the flexibility to match your best hours for productivity. Develop a schedule that works for you, and that your office agrees with and try to stay within those boundaries. Be strict with yourself, if you need to.
Enhance wellness and productivity
Don’t forget to take breaks for meals, exercise and wellness – as you would in a regular office environment. Some like to work in a variety of locations, so feel free to mix it up with home, co-working spaces, a café or the library. A change of scenery may boost your creativity, but make sure it falls within the schedule you’ve established.
Communicate regularly with your team
Make a point of having regular contact with your supervisor and co-workers. Keep your supervisor informed of what you’re working on and be helpful to your team. Use virtual or remote communications channels in your workplace to stay connected, such as video or teleconferencing, which can help maintain a strong relationship with your colleagues.
Connect VIRTUALLY in-person, when possible
Feeling isolated is a common concern for solo and remote workers. Scheduling virtual coffee, lunches and in-person meetings can help balance time alone and with co-workers or other colleagues. If you work remotely, try to align meetings with your business travel plans to see if you can get some in-person time with colleagues. You can also seek opportunities to participate in virtual professional association events and online meetups in your field.
Remote work offers more flexibility, and opportunity to organize your work around your life. Making it fit your style, and the needs of your employer, is key to achieving personal and professional success.
Interested in remote jobs and flexible work options? Listen to this webinar about Navigating Flexible Job Markets, by alumna Brie Weiler Reynolds, SSH’04, Senior Career Specialist at FlexJobs.com.
Michele Rapp is Associate Director of Alumni Career Strategy in the Office of Alumni Relations at Northeastern University.