Are you currently at work while reading this?
Are you on your family room sofa, sipping a cup of coffee? For a fast-growing number of workers, the answer to both of these questions may be ‘yes.’ Research from the financial software company Intuit, recently showed that nearly a quarter of U.S. workers telecommute for at least a few hours every week. According to the Wall Street Journal, today 67% of companies allow at least some employees to work at home occasionally, up from 50% in 2008.
Remote workers are growing quickly in numbers and these ‘digital nomads’ are redefining what it means to have a great work-life balance, but these new environments aren’t without drawbacks. Here are some brilliant solutions to some common mobile worker hang-ups.
1. Separating work from play – Finding a quiet place in your home to get down to work is easy, staying motivated to work when you could be indulging in a Seinfeld, Season 4 binge isn’t.
- Wake up early and on time – Start your day the same time you would if you were in the office. If you need motivation to keep you on track, schedule meetings and calls first thing in the morning.
- Dress the part – prepare your whole body for work, not just your mind.
- Set your hours – Treat your workday the same way you would if you were in an office. Take breaks, eat lunch, and shut down in the evening. Setting hours helps your colleagues better understand your availability and gives you the chance to create separation between work and play.
- Create a work area – Whether it’s a table, desk, co-working space or home office, set your boundaries. Make sure it’s organized, quiet and free of distraction.
2. Limited in-person presence – Mobile working is a great way to maintain work-life balance, just make sure you pay attention to how you are perceived and how well you are connected within the office.
- Don’t be a wallflower – Stay in contact with your team though virtual systems and applications. There are now hundreds of ways to connect, use them. Stay present with your boss, manager and team; don’t wait for people to reach out to you. Equally important, your productivity should be front and center. Take advantage of the latest in cloud backup technology to sync and share your latest files with your team. Harness the power of remote desktop sessions and mobile printing to quickly and efficiently put important reports and visual data in the hands of co-workers and management, from any device and any location.
- Be conscious of time zones and other hurdles – You may not be the only mobile worker on your team and your team may be spread out around the globe. Pay attention to your colleagues’ schedules and cultural preferences.
- Clearly state your availability – They say ignorance is bliss, but in this case ignorance can be annoying. Let your team know that you unplug at 5pm to have dinner with your family, and prefer to take calls in the morning. The more transparent you are with your schedule, the easier you will be to connect with.
3. Lack of communication – The most obvious difference you face as a mobile worker is the fact that you’re not on-site to communicate with. Many mobile workers face difficulties when interacting with team members who consider absence from the workplace a hindrance. The key to successful communication is to prepare and plan.
- Get the right tools – Be prepared with apps and devices to keep you connected. If you’re working from another space, make sure you bring along your chargers, mifi, adapter kits, headphones and any other tech you need to be successful.
- Plan in advance – Decide with your team which means of communication will be used for what purposes. For example, emailing to schedule and review basics, phone calls for brainstorming, video chats for presenting etc.
- Connect with your team – Use social media to stay in the loop. Haven’t met your other remote coworkers? Connect on LinkedIn! Found a great co-working spot? Share images of your surroundings on Facebook and Twitter so your colleagues know what you’re up to.
Working remotely doesn’t have to be a challenge for mobile workers or their in-office counterparts. So go ahead digital nomad, download your apps, power up your chargers and head to work…wherever that may be.