Telecommuting: 5 tips to success

It’s nice not to have to drag yourself to the office every day, but working from home can be tough. Here’s how to make it work.

Whenever I tell people I work from home, they respond with “Ah …”

Being a telecommuter means more than wearing your pajamas all day. (Although that is a really great perk.)

Virtual companies are on the rise, so you might have the opportunity to work remotely one day. And, if you’re a person who procrastinates or loses focus easily, working from home might be more of a challenge than you realize.

I’ve worked remotely for more than two years, and can sum up my experience in five tips that will help you to telecommute successfully:

1. Use the phone and Skype: Make these communication channels your new best friends. Sure, email and social media can convey your message, but true conversations and brainstorms happen vocally. I make sure to schedule a few calls each day, either with clients or colleagues.

2. Start good habits: If you’re new to working from home, the first few months are the most important. The way you work now will most likely be the form you take months later, so wake up early, get a coffee, and go to your computer. Don’t turn on the TV or start other bad habits, because your boss/clients/peers will notice.

3. Over-communicate: You might find it annoying, but I send weekly updates to my boss, company and clients on top of my daily calls. It’s hard to feel part of a group when you’re miles away. Over-communicate what you’re working on to stay top-of-mind and build trust.

4. Treat yourself: You may not have the luxury of free office supplies or happy hour with co-workers, but remember the pros of working from home. Take little breaks after you finish a project or assignment. Play with your dog or read to your kids. Just make sure to set time limits and use those breaks as rewards for completed work.

5. Know how to turn it off: This is the hardest thing I had to learn, and frankly, I’m still working on it. My office space is in my kitchen, and I live in a 600-square foot apartment in Manhattan. (You do the math.) It’s easy to keep working when my husband is working late or there isn’t anything good on TV. This is what people call burn out, or as I call it, “hermit-crabbing.” Set good habits, but remember that it’s important to shut down.

Molli Megasko is an account coordinator at Arment Dietrich. A version of this article first appeared on Spin Sucks.

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