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Telecommuting with Success: Tips for Working from Home

Telecommuting with Success: Tips for Working from Home

At a recent work conference, I had the pleasure of listening to Lucy English from Horizons Workforce Consulting.  The focus was around building overall employee wellbeing but I left with a list of tips for telecommuters.  In reviewing these, I have a lot of habits to change ahead of me!

5 Tips for Telecommuters

1. Prioritize. Before you start your computer in the morning, make a list of all of your priorities for the day – work and non-work. Rank them and see if you can group them logically. Chunking work separate from non-work is a good idea.

2. With less face-time, we need to make the most of phone calls. Step away from your desk while you are on calls so that you can concentrate and avoid multi-tasking/ distractions. Give the other person your full attention and show them with your voice that you are focused.

3. Take breaks about every 90 minutes or so. If you find yourself in the kitchen though, ask yourself whether you are really hungry or just avoiding something.

4. Don’t eat at your desk. Eating healthy is tough. Eating healthy while working from home is really tough.

5. Leave work at “work.” Shut down your computer at the end of the day and close your office door.

As someone who has worked from home several days a week for many years, I have a few tips I too have learned over the years too…

5 More Tips for Working from Home Successfully

1. Have an actual office space. The couch doesn’t count. My home office is similar to my work office. I have a desk, printer, family pictures, a calendar, filing cabinets and an office door that shuts.  Plus a back-up phone in case my primary phone dies.

2. Don’t be afraid to work during your most effective times. I tend to get far more accomplished at night when I’m not distracted by the emails coming in from co-workers. So against Lucy’s recommendation, I don’t shut down my computer at the end of the day. But I also don’t open it up until 9:00 when my kids are all settled in their schools. I have some co-workers who log in early in the morning but don’t log in at night. Whatever is the most productive for you – take advantage of it.

3. It’s okay to ignore personal phone calls. Even if you are at home, you are still working. Don’t feel guilty about letting a personal phone call go to voice mail. I talk to friends/family during the day but it’s almost exclusively while making lunch or when driving my son to/from school otherwise I ignore the call.

4. Take a break. If you were working in an office environment it’s likely you would stop at the water cooler for a chat or visit with a co-worker on the way to the bathroom. You may even take the long way to the local lunch spot. You need these breaks at home too so get up and walk to the mailbox. Take a stroll around the block. Step away from your desk. You’re allowed!

5. Have a good mute button (a back-up mute button can’t hurt either)! With a dog as my work companion, one can never predict when a neighbor’s cat will walk by or when UPS will ring my doorbell (they come to my house regularly for my husband’s work). Working at home brings unpredictable noises so having a good mute button and by always using it, you will be saved from some embarrassing moments.

Telecommuting provides incredible work/life balance.  These tips are just a few to help you and your employer get the most of this arrangement.  Does anyone else have any other tips for telecommuters?


One comment

  1. Graeme January 31, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for sharing your tips! At first I had a hard time telecommuting because of the thin line between work and family but in the end it’s all about self-discipline. I started using a time tracking tool called Worksnaps ( to stay on task and track my time and productivity. It’s a tool that is very recommended to telecommuters because it ensures trust, improves accuracy and develops better communication b/w co-workers.

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