A growing number of workers are spending some or all of their day working outside of the office. Telecommuting was up 79 percent between 2005 and 2012, according to an American Community Survey, and 3.2 million workers currently telecommute. That’s 2.6 percent of the American workforce.
While this still is a relatively small number, it is growing fast thanks to mobile technology and business processes that recognize that there are more downsides than upsides to keeping employees in the office all day. Some analysts predict more than half of all workers soon will be working outside of the office soon.
If you’re not currently working remotely, here are five ways to start.
First, make sure you’re using the cloud. If files and software don’t go with you, you’re a compromised mobile worker that gets less done. You need your work tools, and the cloud gives them to you no matter where you are located by moving files and software to the Internet where they can be accessed anywhere (with the proper password identification, of course).
Next up is to get a communications system that makes it easy to interact remotely with colleagues and partners. This means investing in a unified communications system. Unified communications delivers voice, video conferencing, chat and presence from anywhere with an Internet connection, so it is easy to check in with others and have face time when needed.
It also is important not to forget the fax, because if you need to be in the office to send and receive faxes then it is hard to work effectively from outside of the office. Making fax mobile can be accomplished with fax-over-IP (FoIP) solutions such as FaxSIPit, which makes fax digital and therefore something that can travel with you.
Fourth, move away from a time-based work mentality. Clocking in and clocking out worked when you were in the office for work and outside of the office for everything else, but when work and personal life mix it gets complicated and the old mindset of clocking in and clocking out breaks down. Instead, start thinking in a project and outcome-based way to be less distracted when distractions are all around.Finally, change your routine a bit so you have scheduled times to check in with colleagues or at least interact with other people outside of email and chat. It can be isolating to telecommute. This does not need to be the case, but it does require a conscious effort. Routines that recognize the need to interact with others more directly will make for a much smoother telecommuting experience.