Career success

How To Successfully Work From Home (Or Telecommute Painlessly)

Remote work

Working from Home (companies often call it telecommuting or remote working) started out a promise. No more of those horrible, crowded daily commutes and more time with your family. It works too. Until you start to miss on real face-to-face interactions. You miss people (during desperate times, even the people busy with their phones on the train). And for some, family time become too much of noise, distraction and a series of uncomfortable adjustments to a productive work day.


Pros and cons about working from home


Notes from a Hacker News (Online news discussions for coders and startup types)


The Pros:


- No commute/transportation costs (include extra gas, car maintenance, etc)

- More time with family

- Smaller food costs (don't eat out as much)

- Smaller clothing budget -- not dressing up

- Complete control over my environment (lighting, wall color, music, etc)

- Fewer interruptions (even with 5 kids in the house)

- Almost no sick I'm not going to work when I have a bad cold? I go stir crazy.

- 1 AM eureka moments happen more naturally.

- I can justify my increased home internet bandwidth


The cons:


- No routine that gets you going

- Less time with your friends and colleagues (if they live in other part of the city)

- Less team lunches/nice dinners

- Getting dressed can help you mentally make the switch to start your workday and can translate into higher productivity

- You have to spent money for office equipment

- More interruptions ('you are at home, surely you can do x')

- You have more sick days, since kids are bags of disease

- No more eureka moments after water cooler chats (sometimes, you need people for sharing ideas etc.)

- Extra cost (Air conditioner etc)

- Internet is a big distraction with no one tracking your activity


Now, the solutions:


- With the commute time eliminated, you could add the gym to the morning routine, if there's one you can walk to in a few minutes, or failing that, some bodyweight exercise or yoga videos.

- You can dress well as you sit at work, if it helps with the work.

- You spend much less on office equipment than what you spent on the commute (unless you need a separate air-conditioner for your personal office).

- Work from home is less distracting for people with no kids.

- Schedule internet time and cut off the net for the time when you have to finish a task.

- Their are many substitutes for conversation: Whatsapp, Slack, HipChat, Gmail, Video calling (Gmail, Skype). This way will be able to keep your visibility.

- Get out often: Walk the streets, see the sky, look at people, take in the air. Don't get isolated.


If you working remotely for an office:


- Define clear, measurable, (reasonable) goals for your job as part of your planning process with your manager. This is very important for any remote worker

- If you are part of team which also has a proper office, let people know daily you are on the job. Ping them daily (Gmail etc.)

- Go to the head office at least once a month, or something.

- Communicate a lot, clearly, repeatedly, usefully

- Make clear agreements with your manager and team members... and keep them.

- Help your team and manager understand that your hours and theirs may not match up, so they wouldn't be alarmed when they don't see you online.

- Write concise, effective emails with useful subject lines. Make every email subject line clear in topic, action needed, etc.

- Do not reuse email threads to start new topics. It doesn't help with tracking all issues.

- CC as few people as possible on your messages, but enough to be sure to cover all your bases.

- Get on the phone/VOIP (Voice Over Internet protocol)/video call) if things feel like they are getting off track.


(Source: Adapted from a guide at


Making a virtual team work


- Know the team members, build a rapport: Look for similarities of values, interests, expertise, or experience so that you have a bridge into the relationship. New members are introduced to the team as soon as possible.

- Follow team best practices: Like a regular team, there will be a team leader/facilitator, and there will be regular briefing and update sessions, timelines and schedules, task lists (who's doing what), new member on-boarding plan, people-wise roles (after all agree), plan B (what do in case of failures, this will be a running list), emergency meetings when things go wrong etc.

- Shared 'online' hours are very important; The team must know when each member will be online, as well as other rules about availability.


Tips for a productive home office


- Project the right image for your business: Logo, email signature, business cards (if your business requires one, really) and other stationary, flyers, brochures, website, blog, etc

- You can do almost all kinds of business from a home office: eCommerce, freelancing (obviously),any business in the creative and service industries. Book a conference room at a local business center if you need to hold a big meeting.

- Having a proper work table in a corner / segregated space is better than working on the dining table all the time.

Basically, keep distractions at a minimum while you are getting the job done


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.