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Here’s How to Work From Home and Actually Get Stuff Done

Topics: Career Advice
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Working from home can make you more productive than ever before … or become an excuse to catch up on your Netflix when you should be doing your job.

As a work-from-home writer and editor, I know a thing or two about making telecommuting work. If you’ve been lucky enough to convince your boss to let you give remote work a try, here’s how to keep your newfound  privileges. (Not to mention, you know, your job.)

What Works When You Work at Home

Some jobs/bosses/coworkers will require you to (gasp) work harder when you’re not in the office. To do that, you have to get your head in the game.

  1. Get a dedicated work space. This is not the couch or your bed. You will nap or at least really mess up your back. Have a home office, preferably with a door.
  2. Keep that TV off. I know it’s tempting to get caught up on your latest show, but it’s just not the time. If you want to treat yourself, then watch during your lunch break, but be careful! If you’re not serious about time management, that quick break turns into 3 p.m. pretty quickly.
  3. Have multiple ways for the boss to reach you, whether it’s email, chat, Slack, or whatever your office prefers. Set your “away” messages clearly so that everyone knows when you’re at your desk and when you’re grabbing a cup of coffee.
  4. Make sure your internet is reliable, and, more importantly, that your WiFi security conforms to the safety agreements with your company’s internet policy. Some more privacy-conscious offices will want you to avoid unsecured public networks, like those at the local coffee shop or library, so make sure you check the policy before you log on.
  5. Track your tasks and offer additional regular check-ins on progress, especially if you’re going to work from home over the long term. Be clear that you’re hitting deadlines and keeping your end of the bargain.

What Doesn’t Work When You Work From Home

If you want to get your telecommuting privileges taken away, or even get yourself canned, by all means do one or all of these things:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

  1. Ghost. If you’re not reachable when you work from home, nobody will know whether you’re online/offline/asleep/at the mall or what. Always be accessible during work hours.
  2. Share on social that you’re goofing off. Keep your at-home projects to yourself. There is no “safe sharing” on social media, no matter how tightly you’ve locked down those privacy settings. If you want to keep it to yourself, don’t post it.
  3. Brag to coworkers who are “stuck” at the traditional office about your good fortune. That’s just mean. Plus, your coworkers might complain to HR and get the work-from-home policy changed.
  4. Work from a loud location. When you have a conference call to join in, make sure you’re not sitting somewhere loud or obviously not work-related. Don’t pretend you’re working from an afternoon baseball game. Your radio isn’t loudly offering you another beer or a hot dog. You’re not fooling anyone.
  5. Do less-than-excellent work. Your boss will likely expect you to be more productive than when you worked in the office, now that you don’t have to contend with a long commute or noisy coworkers. So make sure you hit those deadlines.

Some experts advise offering to take a pay cut just to work from home. But I’m going to argue that you shouldn’t. If you’re doing the work, you’re doing the work. Don’t underbid yourself just to get to spend some time in your own space once in a while.

Do you know what you’re worth? Take PayScale’s Salary Survey and find out how much you should be earning … no matter where you work.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your best productivity tips for telecommuting? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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