by Kady Sandel, founder of MELD Coworking
With the advent of email, smartphones, and an ever-connected digital world, many companies are allowing their employees to work from home. The benefits of working remotely are numerous and include flexible schedules, access to a wider range of jobs and candidates, and reduced office costs for employers.
If you’re making the transition from a traditional office environment to a remote job, there are a few key mistakes to avoid. Here are three common telecommuting mistakes as well as strategies to combat them:
1. Being too flexible.
Even when you work from home, keeping a regular and strict schedule will increase your productivity and focus.
Since a flexible schedule is a perk to working remotely, many telecommuters make the mistake of leaving for a quick errand in the middle of the day. However, even the most serious of remote workers may find themselves getting distracted.
One errand can sneakily into grabbing a quick latte on the way home… then going for a walk around the block… then calling your dentist to schedule an appointment… and suddenly a few hours have passed in a blink of the eye.
While it sounds counterintuitive, the best way to succeed as a remote worker is to force yourself to stick to a rigid schedule. Work with your team to set regular work hours, schedule those hours on your calendar, and treat them as a serious commitment.
This practice will also help you maintain healthy boundaries between your work and your home life. You won’t have to work late to make up for any time lost during the day, and once you turn off your computer you can consider yourself done for the day.
2. Assuming your travel will go smoothly.
One of the benefits of working remotely is that you can work from anywhere.
Road trip to the mountains? Sure! Visit France for a few days with your sister? Why not! All you need is a laptop and an internet connection, and the world is yours.
Before you pack your suitcase, beware that working while traveling often takes more logistical planning than it seems. Your wifi may be spottier than expected, your international phone plan may not work as advertised, your tour bus might get stuck in traffic… these are just a few of the many variables that could leave you unavailable for a scheduled conference call.
With some simple planning beforehand, you can avoid these issues and embrace the digital nomad life. Scheduling tools like Acuity, Calendly, and Doodle can reduce the likelihood of time zone mix-ups. If you manage remote teams, consider using additional software tools to effectively lead your employees and keep your workflow on track.
3. Working alone.
Loneliness has become a public health epidemic, and studies have found that the health risks of social isolation rival the risks of smoking tobacco.
As increasing numbers of individuals opt to work remotely, it’s important to find ways to incorporate in-person human interactions into daily life – even if your job involves staring at a screen all day. Both introverts and extroverts can benefit from sharing space with other humans and engaging in office-like chitchat.
Coworking spaces provide the ability for remote workers to work on their own projects alongside other people in a shared office environment. The number of coworking spaces around the world continues to increase, and an internet search for coworking spaces in your area will likely lead to many local options.
Many coworking spaces offer happy hours, networking events, and other perks to build a sense of community and engagement. While the industry is still fairly young, research has shown that people who work from coworking spaces report higher productivity, larger professional networks, and reduced levels of loneliness.
Working from home can be a positive, flexible, and fun experience that leads to more freedom and options in your career. With a little bit of planning and foresight, you can avoid common mistakes and set yourself up for telecommuting success.
Kady Sandel is the founder of MELD Coworking, a shared office space for freelancers, small business owners, remote workers, and entrepreneurs in Austin Texas that emphasizes community and collaboration. In addition, Kady is the CEO and Brand Strategist of Aventive Studio where she helps businesses scale their companies through strategic brand development.