A Beginner's Guide to Telework

Wednesday, November 4, 2020


Whether you have dabbled in telework from lockdown or you're starting a new job where it will be a regular thing, it can be a hard adjustment to something so new but so great.  And if you don't know what you're doing, working from home can be tough and full of blurred work-life boundaries.  Here is the beginner's guide to telework.

Establish a workspace.
Ideally, you should have a room dedicated to your work.  If you have a spare room you can add a desk and office equipment like a printer to, choose that room.  It's better than just having a laptop and working in random areas of your home.  Sure, on a nice day, your sun porch may be a great choice, but that may not be everyday.  There are plenty of outdoor noises to distract you and the weather may not be ideal, so choose an indoor space for your permanent office.

You'll also need to make sure you have the right supplies.  A printer/scanner can be extremely useful and all you need is a tabletop for it.  Make sure you have extra toner and paper as well.  A clear work surface in the form of a desk is the best place to work so that if you need to stop for the day and resume the next morning, you can come back to what you were working on rather than have to clean it up and lose your place.  Make sure you keep your workspace organized though which is why hanging file folders and a file box will come in handy.  Buy a set of clear plastic rolling drawers to store your office supplies like pens, scissors, notepads, paperclips and other things you'll use regularly.  An inbox and desktop organizer are great for things you will use often and need to refer to. 

Also, a way to display things on an everyday basis is very helpful so look for some sort of whiteboard or pegboard you can pin reference items too.  Use labels to mark what goes where in your office.

Eliminate distractions.
If your office has a window that faces a busy road, get sheer curtains to avoid visual distractions.  Make sure the office space you're going to use doesn't have other distractions like your cat's litter box, your kid's gerbil cage, or even your kid's playroom.  Make it into an actual office space so your focus is work.  Keep the TV off during your workday and put your phone on vibrate if you get unnecessary alerts on your phone.

Set a schedule.
Since you won't be in an office away from home, you'll need to establish a routine that's different from your home life and your on-site workplace life.  Make a daily schedule that includes time blocks for logging in for the day, checking email, completing regular tasks that happen weekly, monthly, etc.  This is why a planner book is very helpful.  This also helps you establish your work hours if you get to choose them yourself.  Try to work at the same time everyday so you establish a routine.  And when you're done for the day at your end time, walk away.  Leave your office space and don't return to it until it's time to work again. Make sure you also factor in breaks and lunch time.  Take two walk breaks a day.  Either go outside and walk around your yard and check your garden, take a stroll on the sidewalk, or if you have a treadmill walk on that.  And make sure you eat at your lunch break and do so AWAY from your work area.  You need a break both physically and mentally.

Don't be on call.
Just because you're at home and can access your work items anytime, doesn't mean you should.  If someone texts or emails you about work after hours, let it wait till the next day.  This is very important for setting boundaries.  If you're not being paid to be available 24/7, don't be. 

Schedule days off.
Days off don't just mean being at home, they mean days away from work when you need a break.  It's okay to schedule time off to just do whatever you want or to finish up projects you're working on around the house.   Some people think they can take less time off because they can work from home, but they still get burnt out.  Cut the cord and take time off and DON'T feel guilty about it.

Take advantage of being at home. 
If you have a lull in your work day, it's okay to step away for a few minutes to throw some laundry in, or to clean out your fridge during a conference call.  If you plan to just stay sitting at your desk staring at your computer during slow time, you will drive yourself nuts.  Take advantage of the convenience of being at home.  It's totally okay to dust your house in between meetings, or check your voicemails as you wash the counters.

With a little preparation and planning, you can work from home in a way that still keeps your work and home life separate and balanced.

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  1. Great advice that really works Ellen. I have been doing some work from home and I have to say most of your ideas are in place and do help. Happy New Week. xoxo Kris

    1. awww im so glad to hear that. they have helped me so much!


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