Tag Archives: telecommuters

Should You Hire a Cleaning Person When You Telecommute?

and other questions answered! When I started telecommuting a few years ago, I had a lot of questions. Over the years I have learned a lot, and I share my findings with you to help:

1. How do you deal with the telecommuters guilt, and should you feel guilty?
You got the opportunity to be a telecommuter because of your work ethics and performance. So you just continue performing as you would when you are in the office.If you don’t feel guilty working from the office whey would work from home be any different?

2. For how much and for how long should you continue to prove yourself above and beyond because you work from home?
You would need to provide yourself if you were in the office no different now. Just know that you need to have the mindset to perform and irrespective you continue doing that.

3. Where do you fit in your daily exercise?
There is the time you just need to take the initiative to find it. Here is my blog/eBook with details on how to find the time to exercise on a regular basis.

4. When you have to travel for work, how do you manage your kids’ practice schedule?
Car pool with people you trust. If you don’t trust any of the parents then get a sitter or set expectations that one of the kids will need to miss practice.

5. What do you do when your workload is slow?
When your workload is high, you compromise on personal items so when work is close catch up on your personal action items. Another option is to do training and manage administrative items that you know are going to be due in a few months like performance reviews, end-of-year calendar, etc.

6. Should you do laundry or run an errand during your lunch hour?
No laundry for sure! If the errand is short and something that will get you energized or get you out of the house and dressed then yes please go ahead.

7. How do you take breaks during your work day, and what do you do?
Yes, research shows you need to take a break every 90 mins. Taking breaks makes you more productive. Do what energizes or relax you like reading a book—a physical book. Here is my eBook with details on how to make the most of your time.

8. How do you manage your professional calendar if you are in a different time zone?
You work with their schedule but take control of your calendar. Take the initiative to schedule the meetings and ensure the timing works for your schedules. Managing your schedule gives you a choice not to schedule 7 am meetings.

9. How do you network while you work from home?
You use personal activities to build your network. The group will look different than your professional network but is a great start. Talk to parents during practice. Join meetup groups if you can find the time to attend the events or be part of the TT online community.

10. How do you manage distractions when you work from home (e.g. the door bell, a friend who needs help, etc.)?
Schedule everything and stick to it.

11. What do you do with the kids during breaks—winter, spring, or summer, since our vacation is usually shorter than theirs?
Camps, Creative projects, boredom, and free play. Take vacation when possible—this can be your time to relax and truly connect with the kids.

12. How do you manage one-off school closures?
These are hard, but with planning, you can manage them. One option is to work in the mornings and take the afternoons off to spend time with them. If they are in their tweens, create a schedule for them do finish all their work (HW, practice, etc.) while you are working. Then when you complete work, they are done, and it is time to have some fun!

13. Should you get someone to clean your house even if you work from home?
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.

14. Do you stay connected after hours?
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.

15. Should you get more involved with the kids’ schools so you can meet more people?
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. The bet place I found to connect was after school activities and community events. These take place after work hours, so you don’t have to worry about missing meetings or to get back to work in time. When you are relaxed, you can connect.

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

Communication During The Chaos of Change

I am excited about all the changes within my company. With change comes growth, and with growth comes learning. I am learning a lot and have the opportunity to share with you all.

Here are a few tips on communication:

Be concise: Things are moving very fast for my organization, so it is key that I keep my communication with team members and management concise. I ensure my subject line states what I need from them and the e-mails are short—a few sentences.

Be clear: Keep it simple and clear. Ask for what you need and when you need it. For detailed emails, list the items in bullet point format with the most important information first.

Be casual: While transitioning into a leadership role, start by connecting with your teammates first. Project details will follow once you have built the relationships. Here is a link to my blog about 7 Guidelines for Global Project Management.

Be Collaborative: If there is an urgent situation that needs attention, pick up the phone and have a conversation. For conversations with two people, do a three-way call or Skype. Don’t lose time by using e-mail or waiting for a status meeting.

Be confident: As a leader, your team is looking to you as the Subject Matter Expert. Take the time to know your project as part of the transition. Your management will also be looking to see how you are doing and if you fit the role. Make sure you are on top of the key issues, resolutions, and project updates.

What communication tips have worked for you? Please share at: info@telecommuterstalk.com

Background Information You Can Gather During In-Person Meetings

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that my organization is going through some changes. As I go through the changes, I am learning a lot and want to continue sharing what I’ve learned with you.

Recently, I had to attend a few Town Hall meetings and strategy sessions in-person, and here is what I learned:

What you hear on the phone may not be accurate: As a remote employee, what you hear on the phone or see via e-mail may be just half the story. Keep in touch with your teammates offline to get additional information.

Example: A friend/colleague was working on the most important project in the organization, and I was convinced that she was having fun. When I asked her how her cool project was going in person, the look on her face confirmed that it was not that great.

All requests are urgent: Changes involve a learning curve and chaos. I would question why I was being asked for the same information multiple times. When I was there, I realized that my management did not have time to find the information in their inbox and things were moving a million miles an hour.

Example: I received a call at 7 am to present to my VP that morning. I also had other important meetings that morning and needed urgent information before the discussions. I could not find the time to text or email my teammate for information. I gathered the information and presented to the VP in a timely manner.

You are monitored: How you dress and how you behave come into play when you go in-person. I think this is the case for all employees, but managers of remote employees need to ensure that you are stable.

Example: Women tend to maintain good attire by default, but managers also take note of your overall appearance, professional behavior, confidence, and interactions. The expressions you might make while on the phone need to be toned down during in-person meetings.

Please share any examples you may have at: info@telecommuterstalk.com

Six Ways to Reward Yourself as a Telecommuter this Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Reward and recognition are necessary to keep most of us motivated. When you work in an office, you can see and feel more of this from your peers and your management. When you work from home, this may be reduced.

I’ve learned to create rewards that are meaningful for me when I finish an important task, project, or presentation. I do need to continue to work on this, since I finish one task and move on to the next without a break sometimes.

Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

  1. Lunch with a Friend:This one is always on the top of my list, because I get to connect with other adults face-to-face. By catching up with a friend, I can get updates on the community, like what to expect when school starts, which teachers are coming back, etc. I learn a lot about community happenings during these lunches.
  2. Movies:This is my favorite “alone time” activity. I enjoy going to the movies alone and immersing myself in something that makes me laugh or feel good. Going with others adds pressure to have a conversation, and sometimes you just want to keep to yourself.
  3. Window Shopping:I shop online due to convenience, but I also enjoy going to local stores. That way, I learn what the fashion trends are and what not to wear. If you work from home, dressing up is not a priority, so going out to shop helps me to keep up.
  4. Walk with a Friend:I like one-on-one conversations better than multiway interactions, so I plan to meet with a friend for a walk to talk. This may seem simple, but if you work 9-5 from home, getting out of the house for any reason is a huge accomplishment!
  5. Hiking or Rock Climbing: I go to the local community center and rock climb. It helps me stay fit and gives me great pleasure—which is a reward for me!
  6. Bath:A bath sounds so basic, but for a working mother, taking a quiet bath is huge! Taking a 20-minute bath without being called to fix something or hearing something breaking in the background is better than a trip to the Caribbean for me!

Most of the time, I plan these events in advance. Just having that anticipation encourages me to finish my task on time and keeps me excited.

Share your ideas about rewarding yourself by sending a note to info@telecommuterstalk.com.

Be a Mindful Telecommuter This Year

The definition of mindfulness: 1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; for example, 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

We need to be mindful in every aspect of our lives. Based on research done by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, mindfulness is good for our overall health. When working remotely, it is easy to get distracted by personal phone calls or the laundry, etc. To overcome such interruptions, here are some suggestions for being as mindful as you can be:

Focus on one thing at a time: When you are on a teleconference, just be on the call. Do not check e-mail or surf the web simultaneously. Staying focused is hard, but if you step away, you don’t have anything to distract you. Have a designated area or a chair where you can go while you are on the call. Close your eyes, if it helps you to stay focused.

Plan your day: Don’t jump right into e-mails or social media. Instead, take at least 20-30 minutes to plan your day and set your priorities. Pick 2-3 big items you need to address that day, and add them to your calendar. I have this time for planning set on my calendar every day, and it works well for me.

Use your calendar: If you need to work on a presentation or document, put it on your calendar so that your teammates and manager know that you are busy and will not respond to e-mails right away. Close your e-mail and chat applications while you work on the document. I usually create a better document when I spend dedicated time on a task.

Take breaks: I’m still working on this one myself! Either set up an appointment on your calendar or an alarm on your phone for a break, and take it when the time arrives. Take it for you, and not to start laundry or clean. Do what relaxes you—read a book in 15 minutes, enjoy an article, go for a short walk, or call a friend for 10 minutes.

Breathe: Do this especially if you are working on a timeline or dealing with a difficult co-worker. Put things in perspective and move on. I know this is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect. Breathing does reduce stress and helps you calm down. Here is a one-minute exercise that can help.

Exercise: This used to be last on my list, but now it is one of the first things I do. It gets me going, and this jump-start helps me to keep moving and working for the rest of the day. Direct sunlight and fresh air are invigorating, and you will carry that energy with you all day.

Shutdown: This includes your computers, cell phones, and any similar devices after your work hours. I have my work phone set to turn off at 6 pm. Unplugging helps me stay focused on after-work activities and obligations.

A great resource I use to stay mindful is https://www.mindful.org.
A great article about ways to be mindful from Happify

Do you have any recommendations for books or websites on mindfulness?

Gift Ideas for Telecommuting Parents

Holidays are a time of giving. Here are some of my favorite things as a telecommuter. You could give these items to yourself, or put it on your wish list:

Signs: A “do not disturb” sign or “I am on a conference call” sign is on my list this year. The sign gives everyone in the household a hint to be quiet. The sign can be simple and handmade—for example, here are a few cute ones I found.

Headphones: A comfortable, high-quality set of headphones will be great this year. As a remote employee, I am always wearing some to help me stay focused and keep out unwanted noise. Here are some options.

A Gym Membership: We telecommuters need to leave the house. Getting a gym membership will be a great way for us to get the exercise we need and the social connections we desire. You can find great deals here.

Experiences: Going out to the theater, art museums, movies, etc. are other ways to ensure we get dressed and get out. You can find some options for shows here.

If you have other ideas for holiday gifts, please share: info@telecommuterstalk.com