While telecommuting has existed for decades, most notably in the technology and customer service sectors, the Coronavirus pandemic has challenged organizations and employees to rethink their approach to remote work. While the idea of working from home sounds refreshing, especially for those with long commutes, the transition is not as seamless as you might think.
“Working from home requires you to tune out distractions that you’re not accustomed to in the workplace,” explains the University of Arizona Global Campus Director of Career Services and Alumni Relations Grace Williamson. “For many right now, that’s children who have become home school students.”
However, she adds, students who attend online college are already adept at balancing busy schedules and the responsibilities of work, family, and school. Now that all three are happening in the home, at the same time, she has 5 tips for successfully developing a remote workflow for successfully working from home.
1. Create a professional at-home workspace
While the accidental home office disruption can make you a YouTube sensation, you need to minimize all distractions if you’re going to succeed at remote work.
“Even though you’re at home, you need to maintain a professional lifestyle,” Williamson says. “You will likely take part in video conference calls, so be cognizant of your surroundings.”
2. Communicate and collaborate
The communication approach you apply to your college courses will serve you well as a remote worker, Williamson says. Online students are accustomed to not seeing their classmates or instructors face-to-face.
“Because you are used to this, you can be proactive and identify online solutions to problems before the rest of your co-workers, so don’t be afraid to take the initiative.”
Office collaboration tools such as Skype, Slack, and Google Hangouts will help you and your team stay connected during the day. But remember, clarity in communication is critical, so be mindful of your tone in online chat, and apply your proofreading skills to all messages and documents before you hit “send.”
3. Harness the tools of time management and organization
Online learners already know how to meet deadlines and keep their assignments in order, so you’ll want to take the same approach when you’re creating a work schedule.
In addition to using your calendar in MS Outlook, Williamson recommends tools such as Time Doctor, MS Project, and Trello for organizing your workflow. She adds, however, that you’ll want to build in dedicated break times similar to those you have in your workplace.
“You need to rediscover your work pace at home,” Williamson explains. “Develop time-sensitive boundaries so that you maximize your ability to remain engaged and productive.”
4. Record your accomplishments on your resume
As many people are discovering, there is more to telecommuting than sitting on the couch with a laptop. Moving forward, you’ll want to update your resume with the skills and successes that you’ve achieved during this time at home.
“If you’ve mastered a new software program or new hardware, you can make that part of your resume and LinkedIn profile,” Williamson says. “Take the time to show future employers that you are capable of learning, managing, and troubleshooting independently.”
The University of Arizona Global Campus students can use the resources of Career Services to identify keywords that clarify their accomplishments and abilities while ensuring their resumes aren’t rejected by Applicant Tracking Systems.
5. Be mindful of work/life balance
When building out your schedule, you need to commit to a start and stop time and resist the urge to open your laptop or turn on your monitor after the day is done.
“It’s important to establish routines that support work/life balance,” Williamson says. “Often, it’s easier to start early and keep working past your ‘end time’ because you’re at home, but this will inevitably lead to burnout.”
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that stay-at-home orders and the overall stress of the pandemic are constant threats to your mental health. The Global Campus Office of Student Access and Wellness has several resources to help you and your children cope with stress during this challenging time. In addition, Career Services is available to assist you with resources and 1:1 career advising sessions. To schedule an appointment, contact Career Services or log in to “My Career” from your Student Portal and click on “Calendar” to schedule a time that works best for you.
Written by University Staff