John Bernatovicz

Working Remotely, Successfully

wfhA big part of Willory recently receiving NorthCoast 99 recognition is the flexibility our staff has as they are able to work remotely. More and more organizations like Willory are hiring staff based on skills, fit, and potential and less on geography. In order to attract and acquire top prospective employees, you need to cast a wider net.

Working from home does require more discipline than working in an office. The employee needs to be self-motivated as well as accountable. Additionally, here are some practices that you should make sure each of your work-at-home employees practice.

Establish a Routine
A remote employee should include in their day a consistent start, lunch and end time. This provides structure to perform effectively and focus during work time.

Remote employees should also be self-aware enough to know when they are most productive. If sharpest in the morning, then the employee should focus on being as productive as possible in the am while scheduling meetings and calls after lunch. This can also apply to emails as they can be rabbit holes of time-sink. It’s recommended to turn off email notifications when you’re trying to focus. That simple bell ring can derail you for fifteen minutes, precious time when you have results to achieve.

Part of a routine for remote workers that can keep them fresh (figuratively and literally) is actually getting up, showering, and dressing in something that does not double as pajamas. No one has to wear a suit, but dressing at least as though one would for a casual Friday can put the home worker in a more appropriate mindset.  Try and eat breakfast and lunch at (relatively) the same time during the day and fill your socialization need by going to gym, taking a walk in your neighborhood or general socializing. 

Prioritize
Even more than the office employee, a remote employee should make a list of things to accomplish each and every day. This includes both checking with the team/manager as well as having the discipline to write down today’s top tasks that need to be accomplished – and stick to them.

Pick the Right Space
Remote employees should have a dedicated work area that is not the kitchen table. This helps to both separate work and home life, but also to put the employee in a work state-of-mind. Private space with a door limits distractions from the laundry to other members of a household. A remote employee should do everything within his/her ability to create a pleasant workspace that is a positive, effective environment.

Your workspace should have a lot of the same supplies as your typical office: computer, desk, printer, files, pens, paper. If you use it weekly in a traditional office, you need it in your home office. In a lot of ways you become your own office manager.

Part of your work “space” includes your work time and your family time – the workaholic can make working from home a constant work schedule.  Schedule time with your family,m friends, and non-work interests.

Keep Connected
Remote employees need to have frequent one­-on-­one’s or check­in’s with peers and managers. Video calls are best so you cane get that “face time.”

If your organization has a chat system or uses Skype, make sure remote employees are logged in. Yes they can be reached via email or phone – but there is something about that green “available” indicator on a chat system that nips any potential resentment by in-house employees in the bud.

Remote employees need to be effective, thorough and reliable communicators – perhaps even over-communicate. Thorough details about statuses help ease the concern over time being spent wisely.

Finally, remote employees can connect with each other on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, etc.) to replicate the office chat that doesn’t happen otherwise.

Working remotely is a privilege – one that isn’t for everyone. Just as in-house employees need to deliver demonstrable and visible results, it is perhaps even more imperative for the remote employee to do the same.

I encourage you to have a “remote­ friendly” policy as it will truly help attract the best and brightest – and today’s robust Internet connections make working from home and perhaps even being more effective than at the workplace a reality.

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