Staying professional and in touch
I am a copy editor who had to change the way I work this past year. Due to my disabilities, I have to attend weekly doctors’ appointments as well as take medication with side effects. Recently I’ve moved to working from home. When I wake up in the morning, I rush to the computer in my pajamas and start my work day. It’s definitely isolating and I miss the motivation of informal conversations with co-workers, especially during lunch hour. Do you have any tips for home-based employees?
Signed: Home Alone
Dear Home Alone,
There are pros and cons of working from home; you are far from being alone. Modern technology has changed the way we are able to work. Here are some suggestions of best practices.
Keeping professional. Being stylish, up-to-date in your wardrobe. Caring about your looks, how you dress and present yourself can make a huge difference in your motivation and impact your efficiency and productivity. When you dress professionally, even if you are at home, you feel engaged, ready to perform and in charge. Avoid work-out clothes. If you work five days a week, have outfits ready for each day, just like you did when you working at an office. Work here is not a the place for all your faded, ill-fitting and ripped clothes, Plus, you always want to be ready for a last minute meeting or a Skype call. It is part of your branding, marketing and selling of yourself. Always be comfortable yet professional.
The remote setup. Experts suggest that having a well-functioning office will make you more productive and on task. Having the latest technology can also do wonders for this. A desk that is large enough for a computer desktop or laptop and equipment is key. A good connection with a headset can help you to avoid echoing during online or landline phone calls or Skype meetings.
Stress-free environment. Situate your office in a quiet place where you can think without interruptions. It’s best to have a door that shuts, especially if you live with other people or if you have a family. A stable internet connection with a good back-up system goes a long way to reinforcing a professional image.
Take breaks. Schedule breaks and lunchtime as you did when you were working in a traditional office. Make sure you have an “out of office” automatic email reply or “I’ll be back in an hour” message on your voicemail. Don’t disappear. A simple “Good morning, everyone” will let people know that you’re out of bed, at your desk ready to start work.
Stay connected. In addition to joining groups in your sector through online websites and social media forums, I would recommend that when you are able, try to get out of the house at least once a week. I’d look for ways to learn more and met new people whenever possible. Also, now that risk is reduced, try to go into the office as much as possible, even if it’s only for one meeting a week, or drop by for a lunch or coffee outing with your co-workers. And if your company offers any types of activities or volunteering opportunities, I’d sign up as these are other ways to stay involved and keep current in your field.
Joanna Samuels, MEd, is an adult educator with an expertise in career/job coaching and community/business partnership building.