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Posts Tagged ‘working from home’

Video chat communication

There is no doubt that working from home can be a lonely business.

Sure, it has its benefits; no real dress code, you can listen to the music you want and there are generally fewer distractions.

However, humans have an innate need for contact with other humans, and it can get a little draining being in your own company all day long.

There may also be a need to connect with other humans, perhaps clients or co-workers or others you are working in conjunction with, throughout your week.

Whilst email is a practical tool for sharing information, sometimes it’s not enough to effectively communicate or get a concept across. It also carries no verbal tone, so it can be easy to misinterpret what is being said. This goes both ways.

There are plenty of alternative means of communication with others, which are often more effective and great when you need to share ideas or concepts.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging, or IM, is a quick and easy way to ‘chat’ with others virtually. Many platforms offer IM, and allow for the sharing of files and images. You can generally access IM via mobile devices, too, so you can stay in touch as needed.

IM can lend itself to miscommunication and has a tendency to become a little informal.

Video Chat

Similar to a phone call, only hands free and with the ability to visually connect, platforms like Skype, Face Time and others provide opportunities to meet and conference with others as though you were in the same room.

They also allow for the sharing of files and images, which is helpful if you are chatting with a client or project team, to visually explain concepts and workings, and allow for immediate input.

Webinars and Conferencing

These are another great way to connect with your clients or team, to meet and to share ideas and ask for input.

Webinars and video conferencing allow for visual representation of your ideas and also for feedback and questions from others.

Cloud-based Document Sharing

This is becoming more and more popular, allowing the ability to store documents, files, images, spreadsheets and more online, and to share these documents with others.

You can also allow editing or the adding of notes to documents, or enable others to share their documents and files with you. There are plenty of these options available, and most are compatible with mobile devices.

Face to Face Meetings

Sometimes, you just need to get out of the house and be in contact with real humans.

Arrange to visit your clients at the office or workplace and, if possible, spend a few hours working alongside them or working together on a task. This is ideal if there are some tricky questions or you’ve come across a hurdle or two.

You may just like to meet for a coffee and have a quick, informal yet business based catch up with them.

Remember, also, it is important to get out and connect with others on a social level. Make sure you schedule that into each week, too.

Mix it up a bit and soon you will be enjoying both your solo time and the time you spend connecting with others.

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In our last post we looked at some of the distractions that bother us when we work from home.  As you probably know we have just scratched the top of the iceberg.

Let’s scratch some more.

A Little Separation Goes a Long Way

If possible, try to have a separate phone line for your business and personal calls, or check with your telephone company and find out if they can issue two numbers for the same line but with each having a special, identifying ring. This way, you can screen your calls by sound rather than having to look away from your work and check caller ID. Leave your personal calls until you are done working for the day. Only answer your business line during the time that you have set aside for work hours while you are at home.

Additional Strategies

While most of these suggestions deal with the physical work at home environment, they apply to the online environment as well. Email, social media and other online sites can also interrupt the flow of your work day.

  • Make a point to turn off your email notifications. Break bad habits before they start, and resolve to not get into the habit of checking your Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram or other social media sites multiple times a day.
  • While it’s okay to take a break once in a while, make a routine where you will only take a short break to check your email or social sites once a day. Absolutely do not leave these programs up and running in the background, or the 10 minutes that you set aside for a quick message or post can easily turn into lost time.

Work out which are your key distractions and do something about them.  Your stress levels will keep building until you do.

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donotdisturbWith telecommuting, many common tasks can be accomplished just as well from home as they are at the office, so for many people, working from home can be very beneficial. Usually working at home saves money in terms of not having to pay commute to the office each day, or buy special clothes or pay to eat lunch out. However, if you aren’t disciplined, the inevitable distractions that occur when working at home can be very costly and result in decreased efficiency and productivity, and possibly result in the loss of clients or work.

The following are some ideas and general rules of thumb to keep in mind when working at home to help reduce distractions and maintain productivity.

Establish Physical Boundaries

  • While it’s not absolutely necessary to have a room with a door or other designated space that is solely dedicated to your work from home efforts, it can certainly help. If it’s not possible to set up a home office, try to select a space that can be solely yours during your working hours.
  • Try to choose an area that is quiet, comfortable, and free of noise or other distractions. Ensure there is enough space where you can keep handy your office supplies and other items that you need to do your work. Avoid areas that are prone to congestion and traffic from family, roommates and friends, such as the kitchen table, the living room or den.

Make A Schedule And Keep Set Hours

  • As human beings, most of us find security and peace of mind from establishing routines. When working from home, try to establish some routines and schedules.
  • Make certain that everyone in the home knows what hours you will be working from home each day and that just because you happen to be in the house, you really aren’t “free” to handle interruptions or things that pop up.
  • Before you begin working from home, if you live with several roommates or perhaps a spouse and/or other family members, make certain that everyone is aware and on board with your working from home schedule.
  • Have a plan for how family members or roommates will handle theoretical “emergencies” before they occur when you are working from home. Make certain that if it isn’t a true emergency, that they understand that if it’s just special news that they would like to share, that it needs to keep until you are off work, just like it would need to if you were away working in the office.
  • If you are the parent of an infant or young child, make certain that there is another parent or other adult available to watch the children while you are working from home, or be prepared to not get much done. Let good friends and neighbors also know your work schedule and explain beforehand that just because you are at home, you are not available during your working hours.

No matter what you do, you will still need some discipline and some days that can be hard to find.  Next week we will share a few more ideas to help you maintain your work focus.

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