Words of Wisdom from a Telecommuter…

Hi all…

For the last several years, I’ve been a telecommuter, working from home for the company I work for. I’ve worked as many as 1000 miles away from my home office and never really had any major issues with internet connectivity or attending meetings or anything, so I’ve been pretty lucky. (Note that I’m writing this article right now in Notepad because my cable modem connection has gone down this morning.)

But it has been interesting in a number of ways. So I thought I’d share a few of my observations and recommendations as a telecommuter…

  1. Anyone who works for a multi-national corporation these days or for clients around the world has to deal with time zones. No matter where I am, daylight savings time always throws a wrench into things. And this year, with daylight savings being bumped a week on both sides, I have had issues with a number of auto-set clocks and software packages that has caused scheduling issues for a couple of weeks this year. It’s tough keeping the local time straight some days and figuring out what it is in other parts of the country or in China, Germany, or London, gets entertaining. I’ve found that it’s useful to just try and keep a list of how many hours different it is. For example, I live in the Mountain Time zone, so I just try to track east coast (+2 hours) and west coast (-1 hours) and let other time zones take care of themselves.
  2. Internet connectivity is a must. I have had whole days knocked out (thankfully only a few over the last few years) with no connectivity. And for someone who lives online via the web, e-mail and instant messengers, I have to say it’s maddening to lose that time. So try and find a reliable internet provider if you can.
  3. It gets lonely. I spend lots of time alone in my basement where my home office is located and play music, talk to friends via IM, send lots of e-mails, and chat with my dogs and cats when my wife and kids are gone. And when they’re here, I fight the noise and confusion to keep on track. But ultimately it’s you working by yourself in a bubble. So make sure you take care of yourself and get out into the world from time to time. The sun and sky are nice things to enjoy outside, not just through a window. Go out to lunch with friends or coworkers. And if you get a chance — go to the office sometimes!

However, with all that said… I get tons more work done from home than I ever did in the office. The office becomes one big water cooler and has distractions galore. (Not that I don’t have distractions at home, but they’re more manageable and under my control for the most part.) If you have the self-discipline, I recommend it, even if it’s only a day or two a week. You might be surprised at what you can get done!

If you’re a telecommuter or work out of your house, how do you deal with the distractions of being at home? Let me know and if you have good tips, I might have to use them and share them with the studio audience. 🙂

Until next time… Keep on chugging!

–Fitz