Thursday, August 5, 2010

Working Remotely Can Be Mutually Rewarding

Working remotely refers to accomplishing most of your work away from the company’s offices, in other words, working from home, a client site, or on the road. It can be a win-win arrangement for both the remote worker and the employer, particularly when expectations are clearly defined and met. If you are interesting in working remotely, you should consider the following:

  • Assess whether it’s right for you: Working remotely requires discipline and removes you from frequent face-to-face interactions with co-workers. Consider your work habits and whether these factors fit well with your personality and routine.
  • Establish a remote work agreement: Specify your remote work arrangement in writing and have it signed by the appropriate parties. It’s a good idea to specify where you will be working, how many hours you intend to work, and who is responsible for work-related expenses at your location (phone bills, postage, office equipment, etc.)
  • Set up a productive work environment: Most people working remotely use a home office that will provide minimal distraction to promote a productive work atmosphere.
  • Get the right tools: In general, technology makes working remotely a real possibility. An abundance of tools and applications—many of which are free or available at a reasonable cost—can assist you in your work. For example, you can use Google Docs for file sharing; Microsoft’s WebEx for live meeting and screen sharing; and Skype for making voice calls over the Internet, video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing.
  • Keep a routine: Align working hours to those specified in your remote work agreement; typically, they match the company’s standard business hours. Keep a regular and professional routine that includes getting dressed for work, organizing your tasks for the day, logging into your computer, and prioritizing emails and voice messages to which you need to respond.
  • Maintain excellent communication: It is important to regularly communicate with your manager and prioritize and promptly respond to clients and co-workers. Your communications need to be clear and concise to eliminate the need for extensive back-and-forth clarification.
  • Think about perceptions: Be mindful that some people will be envious of your remote work arrangement and might be looking for excuses to point out why it’s not a beneficial arrangement to the company. Even those who view remote work arrangements positively may perceive delayed responses or performance issues as signals that you are not well suited for remote work.

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