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Telecommuting: 13 tips to maximize work from home



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Working from home is great—until your children come home from school or your city fires up industrial machinery to trim the tree outside your home.

When you work from home, it’s easy to succumb to the myriad distractions and productivity pitfalls that wouldn’t normally happen in the office. But at the same time, your company expects you to be responsible for your work. The question becomes, how do you maximize your efficiency when you go remote?

Here are 13 tips to get you going:

1. Make sure you have all of your technology for working remotely.

Technology opens the window for us to work remotely, but not if we leave everything at the office. Let’s start with the basics. You’ll need your computer, charger, mouse, and keyboard, a solid internet connection (make sure it has the bandwidth to handle your normal office workload), monitor(s), printer, and a headset with a microphone.

2. Dedicate a location JUST for work.

It’s important to find a comfortable spot at home that you can dedicate to working. Maybe it’s your kitchen table or a separate desk in the living room. When you have a dedicated workspace, every time you get in your seat, you’ll be in the mindset of work concentration.

3. Get dressed like you’re going into the office.

The freedom to work in pajamas sounds marvelous, but sadly our minds don’t work that way. Instead, our minds associate the comfortability of our sleepwear and get it mixed up with work. The result is a wardrobe-inspired drop in professionalism and productivity.

Dressing for success puts us in the professional mindset we need to get things done. It also shows our families, housemates, and ourselves that we’re in the zone and keeping distractions to a minimum.

4. Set reasonable work hours.

Working from home means you have more flexibility with your schedule. Need to take the kids to school every morning? Set your schedule from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Working around your life priorities allows you to concentrate and zoom through your workday unhindered.

5. Keep your to-do list updated.

It’s easy to lose sight of your priorities when your boss and peers aren’t breathing down your neck. A to-do list helps you visualize your tasks and plan far ahead so you know how to pack your schedule.

6. Communicate with your team.

It can be said that without proper communication, working from home wouldn’t exist. Luckily, messaging tools help us reach our teams even when we’re remote.

You’ll want to keep your team posted on several things:

  • Project updates
  • Work schedule
  • Roadblocks
  • Reviews
  • Travel plans

Additionally, keeping in contact with coworkers—especially during long periods of remote work—can help you keep your head in the game. Here at RingCentral, we like to regularly partake in video meeting happy hours. It’s a great way to relieve stress while continuing to build strong professional relationships.

7. Use a single platform for team messaging, calling, and video meetings.

When you work from home, you’ll naturally be getting more messages, calls, and meetings than you would in the office. How distracting is it when you have to switch between apps for each function? That’s where unified communications (or cloud communications) comes in.

A single platform for messaging, calling, and video meetings offers several advantages over having a separate app for each one. 

  • No loss of context. Information from different apps never get lost when you switch from one app to another.
  • Easy to set up. Meetings can be joined with just the click of a button. For example, if you’re messaging your coworker about a project and it needs more clarification, you can jump on a call in an instant without having to switch to another app, find their meeting ID, and set up.
  • Less fatigue. The many apps, tabs, tasks, and alerts we get on a daily basis are wearing us out. Keep communication simple, and unify everything under one roof.
  • Worry-free upkeep. Because it’s in the cloud, when new features or releases roll out, all three communication modes update simultaneously. No need to download and maintain multiple apps.

8. Don’t forget to take breaks.

You might not want to take breaks when you’re in the zone, but just as you would in the office, taking a five-minute break every hour (or 15-minute breaks every 2 hours) will do wonders for your productivity. Stretch. Go for a walk. Grab a snack. Your body has limits, and you don’t want back pain at the end of the day.

The best part? You have the freedom to take breaks when you want to, without having to worry about office schedules.

9. Invest in noise-canceling headphones. 

When the city decides to carve the tree outside your home, there’s nowhere to hide from the noise. Thankfully, noise-canceling headphones block out almost all of the distractions that are out of your control so you can focus on your work.

10. Find a good work-life balance.

Today’s technology and work culture can make us feel like we’re tied to work 24/7, and for many professionals, that might actually be a reality. Sometimes your entire day is jam-packed with meetings, yet you still have to get that presentation done by tomorrow.

There’s no problem with having to work a bit later, but don’t let it become a habit. Know when it’s time to get up and shut off your work. Achieve a work-life balance that makes you both happy and productive at the same time.

11. Keep your children distracted.

It’s great to be spending more time with the kids now, but be careful of how distracting they can be. One second they’re hungry and another second they’re bored. It’s important to set “do not disturb” boundaries so they understand your need to focus.

Plan ahead and make sure you’re stocked up on supplies like food, books, toys, and games to keep them occupied throughout the day.

12. Run errands during lunch hours.

If you have to stay connected with your team all day, it might make sense to run your errands while everyone else is also away from their desks. That way your schedule is synced with your team, and you’re ready to collaborate whenever they are.

13. Set milestones and a reward system for achieving them.

Working from home means the freedom to shamelessly browse your favorite time-sucking content. One cat video after another, and suddenly it’s 5:30 in the afternoon, and your presentation still isn’t finished.

Be mindful of things like social media and how they can hijack your time. Consider creating a basic reward system where after a certain milestone, you get to spend 10 minutes playing with your pets or enjoying your favorite snack.

Make work from home work for you

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to working remotely. Some people like to sprint while others like to pace themselves. The important thing is finding a rhythm that works best for you and keeps you as productive (if not more) as you’d be in the office.

Check out our blog 3 keys to successful work from home to learn about the role of communications in remote work.

Originally published Mar 26, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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