Monthly Archives: April 2016

Traveling Tips for Telecommuters

Traveling is an essential part of being remote. There are meetings you need to attend in person. Sometimes, you have enough notice, and sometimes, you don’t. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

Pack in advance: If you know that you have a quarterly or a bi-yearly meeting, pack in advance. Have all the essentials and toiletries you will need already packed. Then, all you need to add are your clothes based on the type of meeting and weather. The Well Dressed Life and CorporateFashionista have some great ideas about what to take with you.

Plan in advance: If you have notice, plan household affairs in advance, such as lunches and dinners. The kids don’t have to eat unhealthily while you are gone. Here is a great blog about eating unprocessed food. Also, plan sports activity pick-ups and drop-offs. If you have help, inform your sitter or other parents who can help with carpools. I am working on creating a template for you.

Have a “Plan B”: Planes get delayed, so have a backup plan. Inform friends in your area or moms who help with carpooling in case you need to ask them to pick up a child at the last minute due to a flight delay.

Take time to recharge: Usually, travel days are filled with meetings, dinners, and plane rides. If you can use the time at the airport, in the car, or on the plane to recharge, it will be an added perk. Take things you want to do during this time—your painting essentials, your phone to catch up on your favorite show, or the book you have wanted to read for the past two months but have not found the time for. The best thing about this interval is that it comes without guilt—you are not taking away time from your family; you are just sitting on a plane!

Connect with people: This is your chance to bond with your colleagues face-to-face and meet new teammates. Make sure you set up lunch with the team and your manager for you to connect and not talk shop. Meet with colleagues who have become good friends—go shopping, to a movie, or to the museum. Do all the things you usually do not find time to do with the people you like. It is incredibly refreshing.

Reduce stress: If traveling seems daunting to you, find ways to avoid things that cause you stress. If driving in a new city is stressful, then use Uber. If flight delays impact you, sign up for airlines alerts. If checking your bag will cause a delay to get to your destination, pack light and take your bag with you as a carry-on. Plan your business meetings and after-work activities in advance, and take breaks in between.

Do You Have As Many Questions As I Do?

I started telecommuting six years ago, and am still trying to figure out a few things. I have a lot of questions, but no answers yet. Hopefully, we can find the answers together and support each other locally and virtually.

Here are the questions I am still looking to get answered:

  1. How do you deal with the telecommuter guilt, and should you feel guilty?
  2. For how much and for how long should you continue to prove yourself above and beyond because you work from home?
  3. Where do you fit in your daily exercise?
  4. When you have to travel for work, how do you manage your kids’ practice schedule?
  5. What do you do when your workload is slow?
  6. Should you do laundry or run an errand during your lunch hour?
  7. How do you take breaks during your work day, and what do you do?
  8. How do you manage your professional calendar if you are in a different time zone?
  9. How do you network while you work from home?
  10. How do you manage distractions when you work from home (e.g. the door bell, a friend who needs help, etc.)?
  11. What do you do with the kids during breaks—winter, spring, or summer, since our vacation is usually shorter than theirs?

Here are the questions that I have answered:

  1. Should you get someone to clean your house even if you work from home?
    1. Yes! I tried to do it all for the first six months after we moved, and got sick. Treat your job the same way as you did when you were working in the office, and take breaks to do the things that refresh you.
  2. Do you stay connected after hours?
    1. No! Unless it is a critical time for my business or project, I turn off my work phone at 6 pm. Everything can wait for a few hours. Besides, I am too busy driving around to activities and don’t have the time to check the phone, and since this is my only downtime, I cherish and protect it.
  3. Should you get more involved with the kids’ schools so you can meet more people?
    1. For me, this worked a little once I found a few working mothers with flexible schedules to go for a walk once a week, or being part of my kids’ classroom by helping as needed. I did not have much luck being part of the PTA, because the meetings were when I had work-related conference calls.

I would like to keep the conversations and questions going, so please send your comments and ideas for making things to info@telecommuterstalk.com.