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'Work From Home' Tips

Perfect work-from-home skills

More and more often companies are allowing, and often encouraging, employees to work off site. One reason is that it eliminates or diminishes the company's need for more office space, and all the costs involved in maintaining it. .

But there can be some pitfalls for workers in terms of "office camaraderie," personal contact with managers, and even friendly and informative lunches with colleagues.

Yet more and more employees still choose to do it, primarily because it offers many more lifestyle options.

In defense of the practice, Georgia Collins, managing director for DEGW North America, workplace strategy and design consultants, contends adapting to the modern workplace is becoming increasingly crucial for companies to compete and keep employees happy. And letting workers work "virtually" has become part of that.
She cites a recent survey conducted by Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle found that 68% percent of the majority of companies surveyed, allow their employees to work out of office on a regular basis.
Following are some of Collins' tips on how employees can successfully work virtually:
* ?  Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Communication is critical to working successfully when you are virtual. By consistently communicating with your team and your manager, you won't run the risk of "out of sight, out of mind". This means setting up regular check-ins with your manager to discuss progress on projects and goals; soliciting input from your team members; attending and participating in project or team meetings; and being virtually "present" on informal communication channels such as IM. Proactive communication skills will help you build and maintain strong relationships virtually.
* ?  Choose the right tools and use them effectively. Today, there are any number of tools/technologies designed to support more effective virtual collaboration. The challenge is not finding these tools, but instead knowing what to use and when. There is no one answer to this, but it is good to agree to certain protocols with your manager and team upfront. Set clear expectations-when is it best to pick up the phone? Send an email? Use IM? To get the most out of virtual meetings, use people's time effectively by making sure there is a defined agenda, that someone keeps track of time and that all participants are clear on their action items before getting off the phone/video conference.
* ?  Set clear goals and then meet them. Work with your manager to articulate short and long term goals-and then be proactive about tracking and communicating your progress on them. This builds confidence and trust and will help you and your manager identify if/when you need help and/or when you are ready for new challenges.
* ?  Manage your time and set boundaries. Don't fall victim to working all of the time just because you can. Many people end up working at all hours because they feel they have to prove to their manager and/or their colleagues that they are really working. You can send a positive message about your productivity without giving up the benefits of working virtually (first and foremost: greater ease in balancing work and life). Set clear work day hours and communicate these to your colleagues. Let them know when they can reach you and how. When your workday "ends" get out of your "office" and do something else!


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