The Day-To-Day Of A Telecommuter
Working at home is one of the most exciting opportunities some people can imagine. The thought of avoiding daily traffic headaches, icy roads, and all the other hassles of going to work is very appealing. There are no worries about sharing your stomach virus with co-workers, or waiting from 2:00 until 5:00 to let the cable company in. Your schedule becomes much more convenient.
Of course, the arrangement is not for everyone. With all its advantages, it’s still best suited for certain people. You need to be comfortable working alone; some people need social interaction with others through the day in order to feel creative and energized.
If you prefer to work alone, and you’re self-motivated, you are probably a good match for telecommuting. Once you take that plunge, you will find that things are a little different than in your old job. Better, but different.
The first thing you may notice is that you’ll be tracking your work hours, expenses, and other activities through the company’s network. Programs like AsureSoftware help them keep up with these and a variety of other workplace tasks. Your expenses must be properly documented for taxation purposes. Logging your working hours will verify not only that you are being paid fairly, but are also necessary to ensure proper benefits are paid to you and your family if you are injured.
Additionally, no matter how trustworthy you are, the company has to set a standard to protect them against employees who may not be so reliable. If you aren’t required to log your hours and another employee is, the other worker could claim harassment or discrimination. The company must handle you the same way it handles everyone else in order to avoid this situation, and they must do so from your first day on the job.
The Need To Define A Space
Just as your watch and calendar help you to separate work from home, your home office space should also have provisions to separate the two.
The daily clutter of a busy job needs to be confined to the area where you actually work. This will keep you in your family’s good graces, for one thing, but it will also help you keep up with important workplace documents and messages. Imagine having an office in the building with the rest of your company and stringing your work from there to the lounge, the hallway, and the conference room. It’s not efficient, not productive, and definitely not considerate.
It’s also important for tax purposes. Clearly defining and isolating your workspace in the home is critical to being able to get a tax deduction for its use.
Keeping your home out of your home office is also important. Many telecommuting jobs can not practically accommodate kids at home. There is too much noise, too much competition, and too much interruption.
Try not to use your household fixtures for workplace activities. If you need to track weather, news, or markets through the day, you will find that you will need your own small TV in the workspace instead of relying on the flat-screen in your living room.
Of course, one of the most problematic distractions of a centralized workplace with your co-workers is the co-workers themselves. Many of us have to work with people who call on the intercom or pop in for conversation about an issue instead of emailing or using instant messaging. In other words, they are forcing their availability onto your schedule, and causing you to stop what you’re doing.
A home workplace forces co-workers to contact you electronically instead of interrupting your flow. You will be more productive and more focused. Being a telecommuter saves you fuel and stress. Your company saves money, gets a more efficient and productive worker, and gains a reputation as a flexible employer. It will be different, but for those who are good candidates for telecommuting, it will be better.
Supporting Contributor Post by Jenna
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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