Telecommute Effectively

Whether they’re salaried employees or self-employed business owners, more and more people want to work outside the office.

Telecommuting involves working anywhere from a half day to full-time off-site or on your own turf. Although the idea of driving less, computing in your jammies, or having the freedom to go shopping in the middle of the day may sound great, telecommuting needs to be done with care, says Gil Gordon, president of Gil Gordon Associates and an expert consultant to employers who set up mobile work programs.

Here are Gordon’s tips for making telecommuting work for you.

Choose the location that fits the task. Save the number crunching or head-down computer jobs for home, where you have a larger chunk of distraction-free time. Store up the communicating needs for the office, where you can more easily track people down in person. Don’t underestimate the power of face time, either, even if it’s informal.

Assess your work style. The best predictor of how you work effectively is to look at where you did your studying in college. In the study hall with noise all around—or in the silent library cubicle? That will tell you whether a more—or less—quiet home time is best for you.

Honestly evaluate your home environment. Young children running around? Sharing a small space with others? Constantly lured by the Wii? Chances are that you won’t be very productive working at home.

Focus on the work product, not the process. Don’t worry about clocking in 9 to 5 when you’re at home. If you can do a day’s worth of work from 5 to 7 a.m., don’t feel obligated to keep plugging. What’s important is that you get the deliverables to your boss or client on time.

Don’t telecommute for the wrong reasons. If you want to work at home because you know you can be more productive, pursue it. If you’re angling to be away from the office because you can’t stand your boss, find another job. DW

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