For professionals who feel trapped in the confines of an office, working from home may seem like the ideal situation. While remote work offers a number of benefits, including increased flexibility and comfort, it also presents a different set of challenges than traditional work environments. To succeed, you must have or develop a specific set of skills to remain productive.
Communication is essential in any professional setting, but it is paramount for people who work remotely. Working from home isolates you from clients, colleagues and supervisors; the lack of face-to-face interaction can erode relationships and cause misunderstandings. To avoid these problems, you must become a skilled communicator across all channels. Excellent telephone skills are crucial for client conversations, and regular instant messaging conversations keep you connected with colleagues. Frequent, clear and effective communication ensures you understand expectations and stay in the loop.
In a traditional office environment, the presence of a boss and co-workers motivates workers to stay on task. When you're working from home, the absence of oversight makes it easy to slack off or waste time. If you want to stay productive, self-motivation is key. You must be able to discipline yourself to focus on a task, even when a sink full of dishes or an interesting television show seems more interesting.
3. Technological Expertise
Technology lies at the center of the telecommuting experience. It enables you to talk to clients, complete work, share documents and participate in online meetings or video conferences. To give the impression of a competent, pulled-together professional, you must be able to switch effortlessly between tools, applications and programs. Your confidence with technology can help clients and supervisors feel more comfortable with a remote work arrangement.
4. Solo Skills
Working from home can be a lonely experience, particularly if you are a social person. It is not uncommon for new remote workers to feel lonely, left out or bored when the initial novelty wears off. If you're not naturally a loner or an independent worker, you must be able to find coping strategies. Many location-independent professionals work from coffee shops, libraries or shared work spaces; others stay in touch with running text conversations or hold casual video chats with friends in the office.
As a remote professional, your schedule is your own. This flexibility is one of the most important benefits of working from home, but it does not eliminate the need to schedule your days. Careful planning helps you fit in a full eight hours per day and ensures that you work to your strengths. If you're not a morning person, for example, you might work from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. and then 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. If you have children, you might work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., when the kids are in school or sleeping. Planning also helps you fit in each task and meet deadlines.
With the right set of professional skills, working from home can be a pleasant and productive experience. By developing the abilities you need to stay on task, you can enjoy the perks of a remote position without falling prey to the pitfalls.
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