A Fun, Brief but Realistic List of Telecommuting Rules

No doubt COVID-19 has flipped the workforce on its head. There is a lot more of us working from home than normal. For some of you, working from home was a dream up until now, unrealized. For the rest of you, it’s not your ideal scenario. You’d much rather interact with your co-workers in person. Well for right now, you can’t, it isn’t safe. So how do we navigate these unchartered waters? While I am sure you’ve read blog posts and articles featuring the best ways to work from home, not many of those articles come from someone with extensive experience. That’s where I come in.

Rule #1: Discipline Thine Self
If I had a dollar for every time someone said “I don’t see how you work from home, I don’t have the discipline”, I’d be a wealthy woman. When your bills count on you doing the right thing, trust me, you have the discipline. Set a schedule if your employer allows and stick to it. I’m a morning person while everyone else is on their 10th dream, I am up at 3am working. 20 years ago, I tried to work a 2nd shift job and realized really quick I was out of my element so stick to what you’re good at (or what your employer assigns you).

Rule #2: Use Your Break Times Wisely
When I start working from home, social media was in its infancy so I never had to worry. For you who have just started telecommuting, this could be a problem for you. I’ve already seen people admitting they should be working but were on Instagram and Twitter instead. Don’t waste an opportunity most would kill for. Until you learn how to not let social media interfere with your quota, suppress the urge to tweet and take selfies during work hours. See Rule #1 on discipline.

Rule #3: Limit Your Distractions
You: Look shiny object!
Me: Focus Jedi, focus!
Look I get it, work can be mundane but this is your livelihood so put some respect on your check. Let your non telecommuting family and friends call you outside your work hours. If you have school aged children, find small ways to keep them entertained with books and learning materials if you can or find someone you trust to keep them during work hours. I sympathize with all the school aged kids’ parents right now because they have to work and homeschool at the same time. I didn’t have this issue 19 years ago. We are living in very different times.

Rule #4: Work as if Your Manager is Watching, Because They Are.
This is a rule as well as a warning. Even if you’re not required to do the traditional “clock in”, don’t fall into a false sense of security. While you are not being hovered over, you are being watched. Your boss knows what you’re doing and not doing. I know someone personally who lost her job over this. What she did a was a rookie move considering she’d been working from home for at least 5 years or more. She clocked in for work as though she was working, clocked out and back in for lunch. She followed this move with going out and running errands and returned in time to clock out. She thought she had flown under the radar but there was one problem. She hadn’t made her mandated quota for the day so instead of just holding the “L” and hoping no one would notice, she did the most rookie thing ever. She worked off the clock to catch up and of course when the check run program ran, her boss noticed the finalization times of every damn claim she processed. She was fired the next morning, all because she wanted to hang out with friends and run errands instead of holding the job she needed. Don’t be this person. Work the hours you’re supposed to work and call it good. Play stupid games and get stupid prizes forever.

Rule #5 Be Grateful for the Opportunity
Before COVID-19 hit, people were looking for legitimate ways to work from home for work-life balance reasons. Strangely enough, it took a catastrophe like this one to bring the need for more telecommuting opportunities to the forefront. Since we are at this point, do right by your employer. Your compliance today will open possibilities for others.

In closing, just do the right thing and be grateful you have a job to work remotely from. If things are taking a toll on your mentally, talk to your supervisor about it. Chances are they can provide a solution which will not only help you mentally but preserve your career.

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