Thanks to technology, the phrase “working from home” no longer has to be accompanied by air quotes. Gone are the days when everyone took that statement to be a euphemism for “I’m actually going to goof off.” Computers and the Internet make it possible for us to escape our offices and work from nearly anywhere, and assignment- and time-tracking software ensure that we stay on task.
Employees like telecommuting for many reasons, including the schedule flexibility, the lack of commute, and the ability to focus on work without the distractions of a busy office. Employers like telecommuting because it offers potential savings in overhead costs (most notably those associated with maintaining physical office space) and it’s a desirable perk that can help a firm land top talent.
In the staffing field, increasing numbers of both agency recruiters and corporate recruiters telecommute for part (and sometimes all) of their time. Enabling recruiters to work from home definitely benefits both the employee and his or her firm. Working from home isn’t just a simple matter of wearing pajamas all day and avoiding rush-hour traffic jams, though. If you’re one of those lucky recruiters who can telecommute, you’ll need to follow some basic guidelines in order to succeed at your job.
Have a designated office space at home. You may be tempted to kick your feet up on the ottoman and work from the comfort of your sofa all day long, but even as you picture that scenario in your head, I’m sure you can see how it isn’t ideal for telecommuting. You need a space where you can work—and where you can keep your work-related stuff. Set aside a spare bedroom (or another out-of-the-way part of your house) as your home office.
Make sure your family knows when not to disturb you. Unless you live alone, there’s a good chance that your workday may be interrupted by family members at a time when you need to focus. Hang some sort of “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door during those times when you absolutely can’t be interrupted (while making a phone call or interviewing a candidate by video, for example).
Conduct video interviews as if you were sitting in the same room with the candidate. Dress professionally, and make sure that Fido isn’t wagging his tail or barking in the background and that the camera doesn’t reveal a sink full of dirty dishes behind you.
Use the cloud. Cloud computing has been the game changer for working from home. When I started working in the staffing industry back in 2003, employees had to be in the company’s physical office in order to connect to the database that ran off the servers in the building’s basement. Today, by storing everything in the cloud, as long as I have an Internet connection I can easily access everything I need to do my job anywhere in the world.
Maintain the boundary between home and work. When you’re telecommuting, don’t mix your home tasks with your work tasks. (For example, don’t try to conduct a phone interview while folding your laundry!)
Follow a schedule. Set working hours and try your best to stick to them. Don’t put in more hours than you would if you worked in the office (think work/life balance). At the same time, don’t schedule personal appointments for times that you wouldn’t if you worked in the office.
Take breaks. Don’t forget to step away from the computer periodically. If possible, try to get out of the house (maybe go for a short walk) during those times, so you can benefit from a change in scenery.
Don’t be a stranger. Visit the office from time to time (weekly or monthly, perhaps). You may work from home but you’re still part of your company—and you don’t want anyone to forget that. It’s good to touch base in person regularly with your colleagues and supervisors so that “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t cause problems for you.