Opportunities to work from home are rapidly expanding, and that’s good news for people who want to enjoy the perks of rural living without sacrificing their careers. A report by Global Workplace Analysis indicates telecommuting in the U.S. rose almost 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, and in a recent survey, 34 percent of business leaders said more than half their organization’s full-time workers will be working remotely by 2020. Remote work opens doors for those who live in rural areas where good paying jobs, or jobs that fit their skills and experience are hard to come by. For people who want to move from an urban or suburban environment to one of America’s best rural communities, working from home can make the transition possible. With all the perks telecommuting offers, it takes a bit of getting used to. Whether you’ve recently started telecommuting or you’re just thinking about it, here’s what to expect when working from home, and tips to help you succeed.
What to Expect When You Work From Home
- Work for a company that’s telecommuter friendly.
Aligning yourself with a company that encourages and supports telecommuting is the first step toward establishing a rewarding virtual career. Many companies that promote the fact that they offer flexible schedules may also very well allow telecommuting. And even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean they won’t be willing to consider it. Don’t be afraid to ask! Tip: A few of the best work from home companies include Xerox, Humana, and About.com.
- Separate work and living space.
Working from the comfort of home is a major benefit of telecommuting, but because your work and personal space are no longer separate, it is also one of one of telecommuting’s greatest challenges. Ask any veteran virtual worker and they will tell you that dedicated office space is essential to success as a telecommuter. Tip: If you can’t find a quiet place to work at home, then consider relocating to a shared or collaborative workplace. If your community doesn’t have a shared workplace, why not establish one?
- Set your alarm earlier than you used to.
When you work from home you could be tempted to sleep in and stay up late. But studies have shown morning people are more proactive and productive than evening people. So set your travel alarm an hour earlier than you used to and get a jump start on your day. Tip: If you’re a night owl, try going to bed and getting up 15 minutes earlier than you typically would until you’re comfortably waking up an hour early.
- Set boundaries, and abide by them.
When you work virtually, it’s important to set parameters that help you establish and maintain a schedule. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, but boundaries could include telling friends you can’t accept calls during the workday, or letting your employer know that Sunday is dedicated family time. Tip: Use a time tracking app to monitor how you spend your time and help you develop a healthy work-life balance.
- Stay connected to colleagues.
When you move from a traditional office to a virtual one, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of isolation. In fact, for many virtual workers, overcoming loneliness is one of the most challenging aspects of working from home. To stay in the loop with your office bound coworkers, consider regularly scheduled video chats, instant message from time to time, and if possible, poke your head in the office and attend company events. Tip: If your supervisor hasn’t talked with you about how you two will remain connected once you start working from home, discuss possible communication challenges (and solutions) before you start telecommuting.
Switching from a traditional office to a home office can be a bit overwhelming. Use these tips to make the transition smoother, and you’ll soon settle into a routine that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Author bio: Sarah Pike is an online writing instructor and freelance editor. She’s a fan of productivity apps, binge-watching RomComs, and finding the best coffee shop in any city she visits. You can find her on Twitter at @sarahzpike.