When the weather outside is frightful, driving to work isn't so delightful. However, in the digital age, corporate leaders no longer have to choose between losing productivity and asking people to venture out in unsafe weather.
Letting employees work from home on particularly wintry days is a great way to keep everyone safe and try telecommuting if you've been reluctant to allow employees to work remotely on a regular basis. And, you'll figure out who can get work done outside of the office.
With the right technology and these productivity tips, even telecommuting newbies can do their job successfully from home. Share these tips with your team or use them to get your own telecommuting plan in order.
1. Find a Suitable Workspace
If you don't telecommute on a regular basis, you might not already have a dedicated home office. You can technically work from anywhere you get a wireless signal, but some areas of your home may be better than others. For instance, nap aficionados might want to avoid working in their bedroom, lest they be lulled into an increasingly horizontal position. And TV fanatics would do well to stay far away from that black hole of procrastination.
Think about your ideal working environment. Do you focus better when it's library-level quiet or with just a little background noise? Or, are you so accustomed to cubicle life that it's hard to focus without hearing 10 different conversations at once? Do you prefer a neat and orderly office space, or would your desk at work make you look like an ideal candidate for an episode of "Hoarders"? Now, determine which space in your home would offer most of the comforts of work.
2. Stock Up on Supplies
When the weatherman predicts more than a flurry of flakes, skip the bread and milk and make sure you're well-supplied with everything you'd need at work. What do you need on hand to work productively? An old-school computer, pen, and paper? A not-so-old school fridge of Red Bull? If you work with sensitive information that you aren't allowed to access using a personal computer or mobile device, talk to your manager about bringing your work laptop home when inclement weather is expected.
3. Limit Distractions
Setting up an appropriate workspace might help you avoid distracting yourself, but unless you live alone, you may also need a plan in place to keep other people — especially little ones — from interrupting you. If your kids, spouse, parents, roommates, or neighbors are shut in with you for the day, it helps to set some ground rules up front.
You might even consider making a "Do Not Disturb" sign to hang on the door when you really need to concentrate. Let your loved ones know when you'll take your next break so they're less inclined to bother you with questions and requests. If all else fails, buy some noise-cancelling headphones.
4. Ensure Your Internet Connection Is Up to Snuff
Not all internet connections are created equal. Before you start telecommuting, make sure you have the bandwidth to use any necessary apps, platforms, or business collaboration tools, such as video conferencing. Of course, if the weather is particularly bad, you may lose your home internet connection. However, if you still have cell service, you can keep working using a mobile hot spot. If you don't know how to do it, your kids can probably show you — or your trusty friends in the IT department.
Using a mobile hot spot all day can eat up mobile data, so you may have to beef up your plan or stop letting your kids stream Netflix from your phone. Most cell providers will let you scale data caps up and down as needed.
5. Save All of Your Work in the Cloud
Unless you back up your computer every day, storing work data on your hard drive is just asking to lose it. All it takes is one virus, one computer malfunction, or one misplaced device, and it's gone forever.
By making a habit of saving everything on a company-approved cloud-based server you not only protect data from being lost or stolen, but you can also ensure you can access it from anywhere and on any device. So, if you unexpectedly need to work from home, you're good to go.
These productivity tips will help occasional telecommuters prepare to work from home. However, if you decide to make it a more regular thing, they'll need more than a quiet place to work. They'll need technology that keeps them connected, productive, and able to collaborate with colleagues.
Speak to a Vonage Business consultant to learn more about cloud-based tools for your team.