Working from Home: Guidelines for the employees

As an employee, you should realize that if a facility is given specially to you, there will also be a specific set of expectation and a different set of rules (for some matters) for you. Apart from that you will also have to set up an appropriate work space that is separate and distinct from your home space and conducive to working effectively without interruptions. To be efficient, productive, and professional, you will have to be disciplined.

Here are some guidelines that will help you effectively work from home.

Do the ground work

  1. Meet with your manager to determine how your work and job requirements can be done remotely from your home either full time or certain days of the week (depending on the work arrangement you are looking at).
  2. Consider the effect of working at home on your co-workers and manager.
  3. Determine the technological needs and secure the tools required for work.
  4.  Take appropriate training to ensure productivity and uninteruppted work.
  5.  Establish measurable performance goals and expectations. Since you have been given a certain facility, the expectations will be more. Chances are that performance criteria may be a little stringent and stricter.
  6. Take into consideration potential challenges and concerns of working from home and ways to address these issues.
  7. Check in frequently with your manager and co-workers to discuss how things are going and determine how to overcome challenges that may be identified.

Ensure to have a proper setup

  1. Ensure to have high-speed internet connection so that you can work uninterrupted.
  2. Ensure to request for and/or install all the software required for you so they you can work seamlessly from home.
  3. Create a healthy work space—good light, comfortable temperature, ergonomic adjustable chair, computer keyboard and mouse suited to your needs, telephone headset, etc.
  4. Design your work space for efficiency, with all the documents and materials you need.
  5. Your space. Try to create a little space in your home that will be your “office” or work place.

Ensure proper communication

  1. Proactive communication: Communicate regularly with your manager and co-workers to stay connected and resolve issues as they come up.
  2. Take appointment: If you want to have a long duration telephonic meeting with someone, take a prior appointment or check when the person will be free.
  3. Check emails frequently: Check your e-mails frequently so that you don’t miss out on any communication.
  4. Respond on time: Respond to e-mails on time. If you don’t have information handy, reply and say so.
  5. Be polite: Exercise courtesy and be polite when communicating via emails.
  6. Be online: Ensure to be online during the working hours to be connected to the team and office. The idea is that you should be reachable via email, communicator, instant messenger, etc.

Be accessible and responsive

  1. Let the entire team know your general working hours (about 8-9 hours).Although working from home offers some flexibility in the hours you work, establishing working hours will be helpful to you, team members, family, and friends. Team members will know when they can reach you and friends will know when not to.  This is very important if you are working from home on a regular basis.
  2. Share your mobile and landline number with your team and ensure have their numbers as well (atleast the people you closely work with).
  3. Update your e-mail, voice mail greeting, staff calendar, etc. regularly with your schedule, availability and contact information.
  4. Utilize appropriate communication methods to stay connected with your manager, co-workers and other team members.

When you are away

  1. If you will be away during your general working hours (say for more than half an hour), send an email to your team members, team leader, and manager mentioning the duration you will be offline for the specific duration.
  2. Inform the teams: If you plan to be on leave or on vacation, inform the teams you work close with and anybody else you work/communicate with.
  3. Set vacation mail: If you are away on vacation for more than 2 days, set the vacation mail.
  4. Mark Leave:  If you have not been able to work for enough hours a day, for whatever reasons, mark it as a leave. If you have no internet connectivity, VPN not working, your laptop not functioning, etc. are also reasons for marking a leave if you are working from home.

Make your presence felt

  1. Attend meetings: Attend the team and other meetings to make your presence felt. They are informative discussions—usually about the new tools, processes, guidelines, new approaches, etc.
  2. Visit the office: Whenever required (meetings, seminars, team lunches, conferences, official visits from headquarters, etc.) visit the office.
  3. Visibility: Ensure that your accomplishments, project status, outcomes, and deliverables are visible to your manager and co-workers. Avoid being out of sight, out of mind.
  4. Talk to someone from the office at least once a week. Long silences make your absence felt and you will not be considered as a “team member”.

Be reliable

  1. Demonstrate trustworthiness by being predictable and reliable.
  2. Take promises seriously and following through on commitments.
  3. Take initiative and time to learn new skills, processes, and/or tools. Ask questions and pointers for information.
  4. You can work remotely only if you have some important deadline to deal with. Work it out with your manager.
  5. If you don’t have enough work to keep you occupied, inform your manager.

Be professional

  1. Clear priority: Be clear about your priorities. Focus on the expectations, responsibilities, and tasks you and your manager agreed upon as measures of success.
  2. Take feedback: You need to know about how your virtual work arrangement is affecting your co-workers and manager. Discuss about it with you manager.
  3. Stop the arrangement: If there any concerns especially from the co-workers, it stands understood that you need to stop the arrangement. Arguing with the manager is futile—remember time and again that work from home is a privilege, not your right. It will only show of your negative attitude.
  4. Be disciplined: To be efficient, productive, and professional, you will have to be disciplined.

Establish ground rules at home

  1. Set a routine/timetable. Make sure you keep a fixed time or routine for work as you have when you go to office for work.
  2. Predetermine breaks: The breaks you will take should also be predetermined. This way you will be more disciplined towards your work. Establish ground rules for work hours, interruptions, noise, etc.
  3. Set boundaries at home. It is very important to develop a healthy separation between your work day and your home life. Let friends and family know that you are working from home and set clear boundaries on calling or dropping in. Be off-limits to children, friends, and relatives during work hours.
  4. Regulate your off time and holidays. Working from home gives the relatives a feeling that you can take time off work whenever you wish. So they may plan a vacation or to visit you anytime.
  5. WFH is no substitute: Do not use working from home as a substitute for child care or to take care of older relatives (parents, in-laws, etc.).
  6. Set boundaries with your family members:  Last but not the least, let your family and friends know that although you are home, you are working, as any professional would. Tell them that you are off limits for them during those work hours.
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