The future of work is the work itself, not where and when the work takes place. Workplace flexibility programs are already catching on and will soon become standardized as more millennials enter the workplace. All workers, not just millennials, want freedom and flexibility and some are even quitting their jobs to becoming freelancers in order to gain that freedom. oDesk.com has 3.3 million registered freelancers, and Intuit predicts that by 2020, 40% of Americans will be freelancers. When it comes to working from home, 13.4 million people (9.4% of all American workers) work from home at least one day per week compared to just 9.2 million in 1997 according to one Census Bureau. Some companies are leading the way, including Aetna. Nearly half of their 35,000 American employees already work from home.
Working from home can be difficult for some people as they develop their own careers. Here are some tips that will help you work from home successfully:
1. Create a daily routine at home and stick to it.
It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose focus if you don’t have a work schedule. You are in charge of creating your own work schedule and managing it. You should set up a daily routine for yourself, which includes meals, exercise, calls, meetings and project focus areas. In addition, you should track your own progress and results.
2. Visit your company occasionally to get face time.
If you work for a company that has a corporate office nearby, you should visit on occasion because the strongest relationships are created in person, and that will never change despite new technologies that surface. Before you visit, you should have pre-scheduled meetings and make lunch plans so that you can have a reason for showing up and use that time most effectively to accomplish your goals.
3. Respond to emails quickly.
When you’re working from home, one of the biggest challenges is to prove to your manager, and your team, that you’re actually working. If you are very responsive, people will take notice and it will be obvious that you’re using your time properly and aren’t getting distracted by personal things. People who respond to emails quickly and don’t wait hours are more trusted and are given more important projects.
4. Network as much as you can.
When you work from home, you rely on the Internet as your path to building a successful network. While the web can help you create and grow a strong network quickly, don’t neglect going to conferences and other networking events. The worst thing you can do is just stay home seven days a week and not get out and meet people. You should also strive to connect with other groups and business functions in your company so you can expand your network and get the resources you need to be successful.
5. Leverage your enterprise social network.
Many companies, especially tech companies, have internal social networks. Some of the companies that have been growing their enterprise networks include EMC, McGraw-Hill, CA and CitiGroup. Use this network to help your co-workers solve problems, start new conversations around interesting topics and publish creative ideas that can help push the business forward.
6. Use tech tools.
One reason why we’ve seen a surge in employees working from home is that we have the technology to support it now. Collaboration tools such as QuickBase or DropBox allow your colleagues to see your real-time edits, projects you’re working on and comment on them. You should also use other tools such as Google Hangouts and Skype in order to do video conferencing with your team. Since you’re working at home and aren’t getting a lot of face time, at least use video so people remember what you look like!