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Top 10 Tips: Telecommuting

By Heather Klinefelter, Outreach Specialist

As the pandemic rolls into its second (or is it third?) year, we here at Commuter Services know that many of you are still telecommuting at least a couple of days a week.  Many of us are doing it full-time now as offices have downsized and companies have seen how it improves employee satisfaction while maintaining performance outcomes.  Read on for tips on successful telecommuting practices.

#1 – Dedicated Workspace

Make sure your home office is quiet and secure.  This allows you to focus during work hours on actual work without being distracted by anything else going on in your home.  The dishes can wait and the cats won’t die if you close them out of the room while you work – although they’ll certainly try to convince you they’re starving to death.

#2 – Ergonomics

Speaking of workspace, make sure you are working in an ergonomically beneficial environment.  Bad posture, improper desk height, eye fatigue can all affect your performance and health.  See this handy graphic for proper set up.

#3 – Breaks

Make sure you take time during the day for breaks.  It may be tempting to just power through the day but taking a 15-minute break in the morning & afternoon, as well as a proper lunch break, can make all the difference.  Take the dog for a walk, do some stretches, or simply veg out on your phone playing Wordle.  Your mental and physical health with thank you.

#4 – Prepare for the Day

It may be tempting to work in your pajamas or spend the time you would normally spend on your commute to catch up on the latest episodes of your favorite show.  Mentally preparing for the day can make the transition to working remotely more like an office environment.  Some companies are encouraging a “virtual commute” where you would take your normal commuting time to make the to-do list you would normally make in your head whilst driving to work or have your coffee and psych yourself up for the day.

#5 – Treat Yourself

If you’re like me, you probably are saving a ton of money on gas not having to go into the office and fight traffic every day.  Telecommuting is the greenest commute there is!  Use that money saved for something special for yourself or your family.  And don’t forget the time savings – if you budget your time properly there is a lot you can do with that reduced commute time.

#6 – Internet

Having secure high speed internet is a must when working from home.  Make sure you spring for the faster package.  When the shift to telecommuting started, internet providers shifted a lot of their bandwidth from business parks to residential.  At my home, I have two channels – one dedicated for work and the other for the kids and their YouTube Videos.

#7 – Eye Strain

Eye strain and fatigue are a real problem when working from home.  Make sure you aren’t staring at your screen all day without breaks.  Take 15 seconds every 15 minutes to look away from your computer and focus on the middle ground of your office.  Also, a pair of blue light blocking glasses might be a good investment if you find yourself getting headaches or tired eyes frequently.

#8 – Keep Your Office Hours

It can be tempting to start early and work late while working through lunch, but you need to remember to quit at the end of the day.  Don’t check your emails before bed.  They can wait until the morning.

#9 – Stay in Touch with Colleagues

Telecommuting can be isolating for a lot of people.  Take time to reach out to your coworkers like you would in the office lunchroom or watercooler.  We are probably all over things like virtual happy hour but taking time to send a funny meme or check in on their kids can help with feeling connected.  Keeping in touch with your work friends helps to decrease your sense of being alone and improve satisfaction in your job.  You could also organize a fun team building event like trivia, a baby picture contest, or meet the pets to increase morale and engagement.

#10 – Communication

Open lines of communication are key for successful telecommuting.  Keep in touch with your supervisors and coworkers.  Let them know if you are struggling, need help, or are having an internet or electrical problem.  Working from home is flexible, but you need to let those you’re working with know what’s going on.

And don’t forget to record your green telecommutes in Commute PA to earn rewards and improve the environment.  More information about successfully working from home can be found at: Telework.Gov, USA Today, The HuffPost, and Commuter Services.