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Today’s hyper-connected world has rendered the traditional 9 to 5 work day obsolete, while opening the door to new professional environments, including the remote office: The number of employees based at home has grown 103 percent since 2005, with at least one-fifth currently working remotely at least some of the time, according to a recent study from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com.
Although such an arrangement has its benefits, it requires discipline to stay focused and productive. Since January 2016, I’ve worked from home 100 percent of the time. Here’s how I’ve adapted, to build a valued (albeit, virtual) presence as a contributing employee:
Create a “work-only” zone. It’s easy to get off-track with all the comforts of home at your fingertips. To avoid distractions, designate an area that is strictly devoted to the job – be it a desk in the corner or a room dedicated as an office. Most importantly, don’t bring your work to the living spaces – the dining room, bedroom, etc. These spaces should serve as your sanctuary away from the hectic outside world. Otherwise, you lose the divide between work and home.
Stick to a routine. A traditional work day includes waking up at the same time, getting ready and leaving your house to ensure you’re at your desk by 9:00 a.m. (Or earlier.) The same goes for telecommuting, only you “bypass” the morning traffic. Sticking to a routine adds structure and balance to remote environments, which are prone to disorganization and distraction.
Move it! You can grow sedentary when your desk is 10 feet from your bed, so regular movement keeps your brain sharp and your heart healthy. Invest in tech tools such as a Fitbit to remind you to move every 30 minutes to an hour. Make it fun by syncing remotely with your colleagues to participate in daily walking competitions.
Know when to shut off. The challenge with remote work is that it never ends – unless you let it. Once you’ve finished what you need to accomplish in a day, engage in activities to separate your job from your personal life, such as exercising, meeting a friend for a drink or cooking dinner. Everyone deserves a break to recharge for the next busy day ahead.
Telecommuting may sound like a dream come true. You abandon confining office clothes and bumper-to-bumper traffic, and you spend much less on gas for your car. It’s important, however, to enjoy work-life balance while sticking to a routine that keeps you motivated and productive.
You might even gain a few hours of your day back.
At our high-tech PR firm, we’ve cultivated a company culture which accommodates non-traditional arrangements such as telecommute days. We’re also keenly focused on the professional development of the many young people who have joined our team. If this sounds like something you’d like to know more about, please contact us.
Jessica Lindquist is an Account Supervisor with W2 Communications.