If you and your employer decide that you should start working from home, you will (likely) face unexpected challenges when it comes to adjusting to your new virtual work environment. For example, you might find yourself getting easily distracted from doing work – like watching TV or talking to your family. Another problem remote workers face is separating their work life from their home life. Therefore, if you start working from home, you need to follow some important tips to make yourself a productive and successful virtual employee.
1. Create a Separate Workspace
The first thing you need to do when you start working from home is to designate a workspace in your house. If you already have a home office, that will work great. If you have a spare bedroom that you can turn into a home office, that’s another good option. Wherever you decide to setup a workspace in your house, just make sure that you can clearly separate your work life from your home life.
2. Set a Schedule
When you go to a job, you have to work a regular schedule. However, just because you are now working from home, it doesn’t mean that you should no longer keep a schedule. That’s because staying focused on your job – while working from home – is very challenging. For example, most people can find other things that they would prefer doing at home besides work – like hanging out with their family and watching TV. Therefore, when you become a virtual employee, you need to continue following your regular work schedule to be successful.
3. Take Standard Breaks
Keeping a regular work schedule is important as a virtual employee. However, you should still take regular breaks when working from home. Typically, full-time American workers are legally entitled to a couple of 15-minute breaks, as well as a one hour lunch break. When it comes to a remote job, you need to continue taking breaks from work (that you are legally entitled to) so that you remain productive and successful as a virtual employee.
4. Stay in Touch With Colleagues
Just because you no longer see your colleagues at the office each day, it doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to them anymore. Staying in regular contact with your coworkers will offer a couple of important benefits. First, you will appreciate having them to talk to while you are working by yourself at home. Secondly, your colleagues can offer support when you need it. For example, if you need help on a project, you can still ask a coworker for assistance (just like you would have at the office).
5. Stay in Touch With Your Manager
Even though you don’t see your boss anymore, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about them. The quality of the work you do on a remote job will (likely) be scrutinized just as much as the work you did onsite. Therefore, you will want to make sure that your manager is pleased with how productive you are at home. That means you should contact your boss to ask them how you are doing – and if there are any areas that you could improve on. Be ready for any constructive criticism and handle it professionally.
6. Find Ways to Motivate Yourself
Working from home means learning to work independently without anyone (coworkers or your boss) around. That means you will have to find ways to motivate yourself to complete quality work on time. If you let your productivity fall, you will jeopardize your remote job.
7. Avoid Being too Self-Critical
Even though you want to be productive working from home, you should avoid being too critical of yourself. Remember, not being around coworkers (or even your boss) will take some getting used to. Therefore, if you make a few mistakes – especially early on – try not to beat yourself up over them.
8. Ask Your Company for Help
Even though your job is now remote, you are still working for your employer. Therefore, your company should be able to offer you support when you need it. For example, if you need help setting up or troubleshooting technology for your virtual workspace, ask your company’s IT department for assistance.
9. Speak Up During Virtual Meetings
Remote jobs often require employees to attend virtual meetings. For example, you might use video conferencing programs like Skype or GoToMeeting. If you do have virtual meetings, make sure that you are an active participant. Let others know that you are a part of the conference call by talking occasionally. You don’t want your boss and coworkers to think that you are “checking out” just because you are working from home now. Furthermore, you will want to give input when it comes to making important decisions that are discussed during meetings.
10. Leave Your Workspace After Each Workday
Finally, when you finish working at the end of each day, leave your workspace and don’t return until the next day. That’s because you don’t want your work to consume every aspect of your life (now that you are working from home). If you do, you will experience job burnout, as well as a drop in productivity. Therefore, if you have a room designated as a home office, leave the room and close the door after you finish working.
In short, if you want to be a successful virtual employee, then you must setup a dedicated workspace – like a home office. Furthermore, you must follow a regular work schedule. However, don’t forget to take breaks from your work during the day. You need to rest and recharge just like you would working onsite. Don’t forget to stay in contact with your coworkers and manager.
Since you will be working independently, you need to motivate yourself to get projects finished on time. At the same time, you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself while you are adjusting to your new role as a remote worker. If you need help, see if your company can offer any assistance. Make your voice heard during remote meetings with colleagues. Lastly, when you finish working at the end of the day, leave your workspace and focus on your home life.