Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Avoiding More Potholes in Telecommuting

This review began some months ago.  Time for an update now that we're snowed in!

Pothole #3:  You still need "face time"
Human beings need social interaction in person.  We thrive on non-verbal communication and are comforted by the sight of a real, live face to speak to.  Make time for networking, in-person meetings, and just socializing offline.  If you telecommute, make a regular in-office schedule for meetings or other followup.  Don't let the powerful communication tool of the internet become the ironic barrier to real personal interaction.

Pothole #4:  Know the Law and Follow It
Working from home either as a telecommuter or a business owner may not be completely up to you.  Your local municipality may have zoning laws that restrict what kind of work may be done in a residence.  For example, in some parts of New York City, business owners may live in the very same building as their storefront.  Or they may even live in their workspace if they have opted for an industrial loft-type of residence.  It's simply expected that work and home often occupy the same space.  On the other side, my community requires additional licensing permits for operating a business from a home; to actually meet customers at home requires a special land use permit from the City Council. 
Always check your local municipality's ordinances before you establish your business or begin telecommuting.  It's a lot easier to work within the law - and be a good business neighbor - from the beginning, rather than adjusting later to comply.

Pothole #5:  There Is No Such Thing as Multitasking
Again, put down the torches and pitchforks.  This isn't heresy.
When personal computers evolved in the mid 1990s, companies promoted their capabilities as "multitasking" - the ability to run more than one program at a time.  That wasn't exactly true.  The computer was fast enough to run a series of steps in a program in sequence so quickly that it seemed to be doing them all at one time.  But they really didn't.  The computer just did one thing at a time, very quickly.
People are the same way.  When you try to balance multiple tasks in exactly the same moment, something gets dropped.  You can avoid this by simply putting your tasks in order and running through them one at a time.  Not only will you get your work done faster and more efficiently, you won't feel overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.

Pothole #6:  Get Dressed
How many times have you seen an online program advertised on TV, claiming how wonderful it is to work or attend school from home because you can lie around in your pajamas all day?  It sounds wonderful - lounge and work at the same time.  That will last about a week, at most.
Whether you work at an office or at home, it takes effort to get your mindset focused on the job.  Getting dressed in "work clothes" goes a long way to set the tone for your work, even at home.  Whether it's business formal, business casual, or some type of uniform, if you look professional, you'll be professional.  That starts with your senses before anyone else sees you.

Anyone else have experiences in making working from home productive?  Leave a comment!

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