How to Work from Anywhere

According to research conducted by the Forrester agency, as many as 63 million workers in the US alone may participate in remote work arrangements by the year 2016.  But beyond this point, this trend is only expected to continue as advances in technology allow employers to draw from a wider pool of national and international talent, and as employees take advantage of desirable flexible work arrangements that accommodate various lifestyle needs.

If you find yourself in the position of taking on a remote work arrangement, you might be surprised to find that there’s a learning curve associated with adapting to this new work style.  Working from home isn’t all pajama pants and day-time talk shows – learning how to stay motivated without a boss peering over your shoulder requires discipline and attention to all of the following elements:

Understand your environmental requirements

Some workers feel most comfortable doing productive work within the noisy din of a coffee shop, while others require complete silence in order to get anything done.  And while there’s nothing right or wrong about either one of these extremes, what is important is that you recognize your own unique environmental requirements so that you’re able to create a workspace that enables you to be as productive as possible outside of the office.

But regardless of the environment you find to be most productive, there are a few things that all remote workers need:

  • A reliable internet connection – in particular, one that doesn’t put your computer at risk in the way an unsecured coffee shop network can.
  • An ergonomically-friendly chair and desk, given the number of hours you’ll spend in them as a remote worker.
  • Phone service that doesn’t sound as if you’re stuck in a dishwasher, in order to be present for conference calls and employer check-ins.

All of these items can be secured fairly cheaply and may even be subsidized by your employer.  Even if these expenses aren’t covered by your boss, consider making the investment yourself, as these items will go a long way towards making your remote work arrangement a success.

Transition to cloud-based software programs

In the past, one of the few factors that kept employees tethered to the office was the accessibility of software programs hosted on internal servers.  CRM systems, inventory management programs and other types of office software were amongst those that could only be accessed from locally-based computers, preventing would-be remote workers from making alternative work arrangements a possibility.

However, as more and more software programs offer cloud-based alternatives or remote work arrangements, these limitations no longer require employees to report to the office.  That said, if your office hasn’t yet adopted these new technologies, you may need to press for changes that give you access to needed tools while away from the office.

In particular, be sure that your office has made arrangements to provide you with remote access to the internal document storage, time tracking software and company CRM systems you need to complete your work efficiently.  If your company’s current software providers don’t offer remote logins, you may need to facilitate the transition to cloud-based alternatives in order to make remote working a possibility.

Make availability a top priority

Finally, be aware that most employers who are resistant to remote work arrangements do so out of a concern that they won’t be able to monitor employee progress and productivity.  As such, it’s up to you to prove to your managers that the quality of your work won’t diminish as a result of your arrangement.

One of the best ways to do this is to make yourself available as much as possible during business hours.  If your company utilizes an internal chat tool that you can access remotely, log on consistently to show your employer and coworkers that you’re actively working – not watching cartoons on the couch.  In addition, be careful that any personal errands you run during business hours don’t interfere with your ability to take calls from your boss or participate in last minute conference calls.

Unfortunately, until remote work arrangements become even more commonplace, employees who make use of these more flexible alternatives will remain subject to scrutiny and skepticism.  In order to make working from anywhere a real possibility for yourself and for the other workers who follow in your footsteps, it’s up to you to take the necessary steps described above to ensure your success.

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