Gallup’s 2015 annual Work and Education poll showed that 37% of U.S. workers telecommuted last year. That’s four times greater than 9% in 1995. As more telecommute or remote opportunities become available, it’s important for employees to be able to adjust to the change in environment.  Dr. Karen Ferguson is the Assistant Provost at Colorado State University-Global Campus. In the article below she’s providing an overview of the benefits to both employers and employees when working remotely. She’s also highlighting practical ways for you to make the most of your time away from the office. Learn more about this topic and others at the CSU Global Virtual Career Fair on October 27th. Dr. Ferguson’s topic, Managing and Working on Remote Teams, will be live at 2 p.m. MST. Dr. Ferguson will also be presenting at the International Forum for Women in E-learning (IFWE), sponsored by CSU Global.
challenges with working from home
Advances in technology have made remote work, or working from home, more accessible in recent years. Employers enjoy reduced costs associated with overhead, increased employee retention and improved job satisfaction, higher productivity from employees, and less turnover and burnout. Employees benefit by having greater work-life flexibility, reduced stress, and improved overall health. While there is clear research to suggest the benefits of remote work for many, some employees struggle to strike the perfect balance.  One reason this balance can become so tough is the lack of clear boundaries between space and time. Some potential work from home challenges include:
  • Isolation
  • Long hours
  • Lack of clear boundaries between work and personal responsibilities
  • Irregular hours
Once you’re aware of these challenges, you can overcome or avoid them, it simply takes time and practice. While the flexibility of working remote can be very attractive, it can also be difficult to “shut down” for the day if your work is visible or bleeds into your home life. It’s very important to define balance for yourself. For some people, balance is defined by clear lines or boundaries. For others, it’s the ability to just get it all done within the day. Each employee is different, so create strategies that best support your strengths and preferences. Some useful strategies for a remote worker include:

Create a schedule.

Have open conversations with your employer, friends, and family about your availability. You might need to help your friends and family understand that you are actually working from home and not a last minute day care provider, housekeeper, or errand runner. Define times when you’re “at work” and thus available for your employer, and not available for friends and family.

Set up shop.

Determine where your work will be done. Creating dedicated office space, often with a door, can help to create a sense of when you are at work. Only doing your work in your office will help create a physical and mental association of when you are on and off of work. Creating this boundary can reduce stress and create a better sense of balance overall.

Establish time expectations.

Working across time zones can be a challenge for any organization. Talk to your employer about when you can be expected to be digitally present and discuss realistic turnaround times for emails, phone calls, and projects when requested. Other strategies to reduce the stress associated with working from home include…
  • Take breaks
  • Batch similar types of work
  • Take personal time for yourself
  • Find a mentor
  • Connect with other remote employees
Working from home is still working which means you’re held to the same standards as if you were in the office. Use these tips for working from home, as well as advice from Dr. Ferguson’s presentation at the CSU Global Virtual Career Fair to be successful in your career, no matter what your office looks like or where it is.