Making Teleworking Work For You

As most of the world is dealing with the current pandemic of COVID19, the way we work has drastically changed over the past few weeks. While it is unfortunate that some can’t work during this time, there are some who are experiencing teleworking for the first time.

I am one of those people. For the first time in my 38 years of working, I have been teleworking. Although I am sad about the reason we are having to do this, I love being able to work from home. I wish I had been able to do this sooner. With my job, I spend about 80% of my days on the computer working with data. Obviously I can’t do every aspect of my job but I can assure you that I have been very busy since I have been working remotely. The work hasn’t slowed down even if the bandwidth has slowed me down. As I was preparing to telework, I had hoped that my internet provider – Xfinity – would do something temporarily to bump up my internet speed but all they were interested in was trying to up sale me on a new plan. I am disappointed that they weren’t willing to make exceptions for this situation. Fortunately, my current speed is okay but it would have been nice if they would have worked with me on this.

It’s important that you prepare yourself for teleworking. Make sure you have a dedicated place to work and that your technology is setup for working from home.

The first thing I love about teleworking is – well – working from home and being with my wife. On most days we spend about 11 hours apart. It’s a good feeling to be close and know that she’s here. We get along well and love being together. Although I am working, I get to see her a lot more and have lunch with her every day.

The second thing is the commute. I normally have to get up at 5 a.m. and take a van pool with people who are totally opposite in their political views than me and ride 45 minutes to/from work. That can be a very long 45 minutes of my day. Over the last two weeks, my commute has been 15 steps to where I am working.

The third good thing about teleworking is that every day is casual day. I don’t have to figure out what I am going to wear. I just put on some comfy clothes and go to work. In fact, today is wear-your-Disney-shirt-to-work day here.

Here are some other things I have learned with my telework experience:

  • You must be disciplined. Working at home doesn’t mean you don’t work. I know that’s sounds crazy but it can be too tempting to goof off when you telework. The key to keeping the work in telework is to be disciplined. Our management requires us to keep a log of what we are working on every 30-minutes. I stick to this by setting my watch alarm for 30 minutes so that I can keep to the schedule and keep my log accurate.
  • Keep work routine. For me, I continue to get up, take a shower and get dressed for work. I also continue with the usual breaks and lunch times I have when I am working in the office.
  • Manage your interruptions and distractions. One of the benefits of teleworking is that I don’t have to deal with co-workers or supervisors interrupting me or what I call “drive-bys”. I can actually focus on my work; however, working from home presents new interruptions and distractions such as the humming noise of neighbors mowing their lawn that I hear right now. Depending on where you set up your home office, the television can be a distraction so you will have to decide what level of distraction you can work with at home.
  • Adjust to changes in workflow. I have had to adjust to the slower pace that I have to work now since I am not physically in the office connected to our network. There are many days where I am running projects on two or three computers. I am also adjusting to the change of working on one monitor than the two monitors in the office. Working from home forces you to prioritize your work even more than when you are in the office.
  • Adapting to communicating with co-workers/supervisors. Communication with others is different since you don’t have in-person interaction when teleworking. I have kept communication going with email or Skype. Personally, I like this form much better than the in-person or my office phone ringing to interrupt me.
  • Reward yourself. I think it is important to reward yourself for being disciplined when you are teleworking. Take five minutes to walk around, go outside or plan an activity when the workday is over. Sometimes I tell myself that at a certain time I will get a snack or do a short chore just to break up the routine. It’s good to take a few breaks as long as it isn’t longer than five minutes.

When this crisis is over and life gets back to normal I hope I will be able to continue to telework at least one day each week and as I approach being eligible to retire from my current job in the near future, I would love to find employment with someone who offers teleworking or work from home. I am definitely disciplined to do this and have the personality that is suited for it.

Sure, you still have to work when you telework but it is a welcome change from the daily grind. I’m just very fortunate that I can still work during this time of being locked in while we all try to navigate this pandemic.

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