If you're lucky enough to work from home every day, or you're lucky enough to work for employer with the flexibility and the technological capability to stay in touch with employees beyond the confines of the workplace, consider this a blessing and a benefit. Most employees enjoy the freedom and independence of remote working arrangements, and not all employers have the capacity to unchain workers from their desks and allow them to manage their own locations and schedules.
But working from home also brings a unique set of challenges, and you'll need to navigate those challenges in order to earn and maintain your supervisor's trust. If you struggle to find your feet when you're not held on track by structured supervision, these tips can help you stay productive.
1. Keep expectations clear and communication channels open.
If you feel cut off from your boss or your team, don't sit still waiting for them to reach out to you. Engage as often as necessary in order to feel connected and on track. If you need to call your supervisor or your direct reports twenty times per day, do so. If that doesn't work for them, trust them to let you know. In the meantime, be very clear about what others can expect from you in terms of response times and connectivity preference—if you prefer texting, emailing, or phone conversations, speak up and say so.
2. Remember that eight hours is still eight hours.
Remote workers often fall into a productivity trap they don't expect: overwork. In an urgent desire to stay as productive, responsive, and trustworthy as possible, they go overboard and can't figure out exactly when to disconnect and power down. This can lead to burnout, which can lead to reduced work quality AND diminished quality of life…the exact opposite of what workers and employers both need. Know when your workday will end, and when that moment comes, apply the brakes.
3. Make pet and childcare arrangements.
Work is still work, even if happens in your living room. If pets, children, neighbors, roommates, spouses and friends can't be left to their own devices while you focus on your job, make formal arrangements to have their needs met by someone else.
4. Control your internet access.
A growing list of internet blocking programs can prevent you from being lured away by social media, funny cat videos, or the news of the day. But if you these programs don't work for you and you can't summon the discipline to limit your surfing time, turn your wifi off until you need it.
5. Know your limits.
It may feel like you're wasting a great opportunity or neglecting to take advantage of an excellent workplace perk by doing so, but if you have to say no to a work-at-home arrangement, just say no. Extroverted and easily distracted personalities thrive on structure, and there's nothing wrong with that. If working at home isn't right for you, don't make yourself miserable. Just come back to the office and move on.
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