I may be more than 4,000 miles away from PCG Digital Marketing’s main office right now, but my commute is far shorter than that of my co-workers’. Here is how my day starts: the alarm clock rings, I jump out of bed, go to my local coffee joint (my kitchen) and head to the office (my kitchen table).
I have had the questions posed: “Don’t you feel disconnected?” “How do you know what to do each day for work?” “How do people in New Jersey know you are working from Alaska?”
Here’s the truth: in this digital age, a 4,000+-mile daily commute is nothing at all. An Internet connection (yes, we get Internet in Alaska) is all I really need to be as productive as my in-house NJ co-workers.
What if I have an immediate question or problem? Well, that’s nothing a quick phone call, e-mail or g-chat can’t fix.
How am I included in meetings? Ah, the power of conference calling!
Yes, working from home in the digital age is easy. However, there are definitely challenges that come from having a home office. Here, I will share some tips I have figured out along the way.
Tips for Working Remotely
Follow Set Hours. When your home is your office it can be difficult to separate home time from work time. Make set hours for yourself to be “in office” and make sure others know that when you are at work, you are not to be bothered.Also, be sure to prevent burn out by giving yourself the same breaks you have while in the office. Although snacks are unlimited and easy-to-access while at home, lunch breaks are key for mental re-grouping.
Cut Out Distractions. It is easy to want to turn on the TV when working from your couch or dining room. Simply don’t do it! You may think you won’t be distracted, but you will- trust me. If the distraction is not in your company’s main office, don’t let it enter your home office either.
Communicate Effectively. The digital age has its communication perks- but they are only beneficial if you use them correctly.
If there’s a problem that needs immediate attention, pick up the phone and call; e-mail is not always effective as turn-around time can be much longer.
When using e-mail as a communication tool, do not underestimate the importance of a clear and concise e-mail. You cannot get up from your desk, walk across the building and explain any questions that are left unanswered. To prevent an unnecessarily lengthy chain of back-and-forth e-mails make sure everyone is on the same page by fully explaining your question, problem or request from the very beginning.
I have been following these guidelines while working remotely to make it easier on myself and my coworkers. Now, if only we could do something about that four hour time difference. Waking up at 5 a.m. to be in the NJ office at 9 a.m. is a killer!