Working remotely can have some huge benefits for both employees and their managers. Setting up shop at home has been proven to improve staff satisfaction by creating more flexibility. The hassle of commuting is removed, and people are less likely to leave early for personal reasons because they're able to work right up until the end of the day without leaving the house.
"More and more entrepreneurs are working remotely," wrote Fortune contributor Jacqueline Whitmore. "They may have an 'office' at home, in a co-working space or even at the nearest coffee shop. Fortunately, technology has allowed everyone - even entrepreneurs who commute to a traditional office every day - to benefit from the flexibility of working from home when it's needed or preferred."
But there is a misconception among some professionals that working from home is like living on Easy Street. No bosses, no co-workers and - therefore - no responsibility. Some treat remote connectivity as a permanent vacation. Others, however, may simply be unaware of how to treat the work day when they technically never have to get out of their pajamas.
Working from home is a powerful way to keep employees moving and happy, but only if there are clear guidelines and expectations in place. Here are five tips that can help the remote workforce to get the most out of the opportunity presented to them:
1) Prepare yourself
2) Designate a workspace
Chances are that sitting on the couch in front of the television is not going to be conducive to progress. Just because you're working from home doesn't mean that you don't need a designated workspace. It helps to arrange things around your abode and create a place where you can feel most like you're at work. While some might protest to this idea, remember that it still beats trekking out into the elements on a cold day. Even just sitting at the kitchen table and away from certain distractions will do if you find yourself lacking a "home office."
3) Set actual working hours
While one of the biggest potential problems for remote employees is getting things done, some find themselves with the opposite problem. Many professionals are inclined to continue working well past when they are expected to as the line between the home and the office starts to blur. Without having to come to and from work every day, some people can lose sight of their personal lives. It's important to provide a hard stopping point for yourself. Any time that wouldn't be spent staying late in the office shouldn't be spent working from home, either.
4) Stay connected
Out of sight, out of mind - right? Sadly, the lack of a physical presence can sometimes lead valued team members to fall by the wayside. It's important to stay involved. This goes for both employees and their supervisors. Things like regularly-scheduled video check-ins will go a long way when trying to maximize the effectiveness of remote staffers.
5) Don't let potential shortcomings turn you off of working from home
While it's true that there is some diligence required, remote connectivity is still an amazing way to promote modern productivity. The biggest crime would be for enterprises to avoid it altogether when it has been proven to provide a new way of working.
"[W]orking from home offers plenty of traps that working in a standard office environment doesn't typically produce," wrote TechRepublic contributor Jack Wallen. "As a long-time member of the working-from-home department, I've learned how to avoid most of them."
Clearly, the potential is there in working from home. So long as expectations are firmly laid out - and employees stick to the tips that will let them be successful - having a remote staff is one of the best things that an enterprise can do for itself.
Learn more about how ESI can help you work more efficiently from home with the cloud!