Whether you’re taking online classes, own a small business or work for a large company, chances are you work from home at least part of the time. The latest Statistic Canada data shows nearly two million of us are working remotely at least once a week, and that number is only growing as we learn of the increasing benefits of telecommuting.
“Virtual workers need to be able to work independently and prioritize effectively, as well as create structure to their day,” says Dr. Lori LaCivita, Walden University’s Industrial and Organizational Psychology graduate program director. If you’re an employee, manager or student, you’re sure to benefit from her top three tips for working from home.
1. Communication is key.
“Working remotely requires a higher level of communication since you can’t pick up on nonverbal cues and don’t have the in-person social interactions that office workers have, so virtual workers need to communicate more frequently with managers and in-office employees,” says Dr. LaCivita. Communicating helps you feel connected and fights feelings of isolation. Get creative and use technology — instant messaging, conference calls, Skype — whatever gets you collaborating with your team.
2. Be the captain of your own ship.
You need to work independently, and think through things on your own, as you may not have access to someone who can provide immediate, real-time guidance. Prioritize, triage and structure your day to be productive and prove yourself through consistency and performance. Managers should take note of this as well: trust employees, and recognize and reward outcomes, not hours worked. Attending a virtual university is a great way to prepare for and land a virtual position, because online classes train you in the self-direction needed for success.
3. Become friends with technology.
To be a successful virtual employee, you need to have a good understanding of technology and how to use it properly — if you can’t be comfortable with technology, you can’t work remotely. Always have a backup plan if technology fails: get a landline, save work in multiple locations and purchase a mifi connection (a wireless router that acts as a mobile wi-fi hotspot) in case the electricity goes out.
Find more tips on working from home for employees and managers at www.waldenu.edu/virtualteam.