According the most recent U.S. Census data released in 2012, 13.4 million people worked at least one day at home per week, an increase of over 4 million people (35 percent) in the last decade.
There are many reasons to believe that in a hotbed of tech startups like Denver, home to creative workplaces like Galvanize
and countless burgeoning small businesses, telecommuting will continue to be increasingly popular.
Whether you live in the area but work for a company based out of state or are an entrepreneur setting up shop at the home office, here are four tips to ensure productive, hassle-free days.
1. Ensure the right technology is in place
The U.S. Census specifically contributes the rise in remote workers to advances in telecommunication. Needless to say, it's crucial to have the right technologies for remote workers to access information seamlessly. This is something that brick-and-mortar offices and workspaces like Galvanize, which has a scalable Ethernet to support hundreds of online users, already have in place. But the home office might not be as equipped with the reliable Internet and phone resources needed.
Phone services, in fact, are often an overlooked component of remote working. Having a consistent voice communications system in place is key for work-from-home arrangements. That's where the cloud comes in. Many businesses are now leveraging the cloud to keep their employees connected and communications technologies consistent from state to state, region to region.
There are cloud solutions from a wide variety of providers available to suit your particular needs. Remember that seamless access to technology doesn't just benefit the remote worker -- it also benefits colleagues and customers who need to get in touch.
2. Be available and communicate often
When working remotely, it's best to have a set schedule that works not just for you, but for colleagues as well. While you may be more productive in the morning or evening, it's also important to be available to co-workers and managers during normal working hours.
Jane Miller, the founder of Boulder-based career advice site Jane Knows
, offers these tips: "Be sure to set clear expectations. Develop a clear outline of your deliverables and a timetable for accomplishing them with your colleagues or boss. This way, they will know exactly what to expect and when to expect it."
Miller also recommends scheduling a regular weekly phone meeting to discuss your progress against the deliverables. "Not only will this keep your boss or team informed, but it will keep you on track to ensure your timelines are met," says Miller.
Finally, while technology is a great way to stay connected, it's important to ensure you're still getting face time.
"Make sure you come into the office to attend team meetings or company events," says Miller. "One of the biggest challenges when people work from home is not that they don't get the work done, it's their feeling of isolation from the team."
3. Eliminate distractions
While it may be tempting to work from the couch on a rainy day or the front porch on a sunny one, it's recommended to ensure you have an office area that is free of distractions -- that means no reruns of The Doctors while responding to client emails -- and serves as a home base for all of your needed tools and technologies, such as computer chargers, notebooks and calendars.
If possible, make sure your home office isn't in a high traffic area -- you don't need pets barking during the middle of a conference call or the neighbors swinging by when you're on a deadline. There will probably be distractions that are more exciting than any work project, but having a defined office area will help reduce these temptations.
Taking another page from Galvanize's playbook, outfit your home office with comfortable and quality furnishings, so that you wouldn't want to be anywhere else in your home other than your office. Galvanize outfitted their space with Knoll Furniture so that their community was fit to create and be inspired.
4. Incorporate good daily habits
When working remotely, sometimes the small things make a big difference. Don't neglect to take breaks. Also, try not to log onto your computer the second you wake up in the morning. Take some time to yourself and seize the opportunity to get out of the house for a cup of coffee or a workout. Finally, even if no one can see you, get dressed up -- or at least get out of your pajamas. This will help you get in the right frame of mind.
Shawn Adamson, the Vice President of Commercial Business Services for Comcast Mile High Region, is responsible for developing and implementing Comcast's innovative commercial services offerings in the small, medium and enterprise business markets. She leads Comcast as it continues to deliver new technologies and services to its business customers, including the launch of Metro Ethernet. She has nearly 20 years of management experience in sales and operations.
Voice of Denver is a biweekly featured post from Denver's entrepreneurs, experts and raconteurs. Contact us if you'd like to stand on our soapbox.