According to 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 5.9 million people work from home. Employers often see it as a way to encourage continual productivity, particularly in times of inclement weather or bad traffic conditions. However, working at home requires a period of adjustment, and most importantly, a spirit of collaboration with fellow co-workers, whether they are also working at home, or in a traditional office setting.
Fortunately, online file sharing services mean that people can share their work with each other virtually, from anywhere in the world. Presentations, spreadsheets and other files are accessible to anyone who needs them, with just a few clicks of a mouse.
Set Up Your Office
Regardless of whether you’ll be working at home full-time, or a few days a week, make sure to give yourself a designated work area. Sometimes, people who work at home are tempted to just set up their workspace on the couch. Instead, try to keep your home and work life separate, because this approach will keep your productivity kindled.
The reliability of your Internet connection is extremely important. The beauty of file sharing services is that they can be accessed through any traditional web browser. However, if you’ve noticed that your Internet goes down a lot, even before you start working at home, put a backup plan in place. For example, if you have an iPad, consider buying a cellular data plan so you can connect to the Internet even in places that don’t have a wireless signal. It’s also a good idea to make friends with the owners of your local coffee shop. Most of these sorts of establishments have free Wi-Fi for customers, and if you’re a loyal customer, the owners often won’t mind if you set up your virtual workplace there.
Practice Proper Communication
Once you’ve gotten settled in your new work environment, your co-workers will probably define their expectations of you, and give you the opportunity to do the same with them. If you plan to work at odd hours, make sure that someone knows when you can easily be reached online. With that information, anyone who needs to send you a file can do so at a time that you’ll be sure to see it promptly. Also, although it may not seem intuitive at first, you might need to get into the habit of even letting someone know when you step away from your computer for a lunch break or cup of coffee
Also, consider using some sort of instant chat service so that you can communicate with your coworkers in real-time. This will allow you to collaborate with them once you’ve had a chance to look over any files. If you use your resources well, it’s easy to keep communication flowing as freely as it might if you were in a traditional office.
Today’s file sharing services can often handle data sizes of several gigabytes, and might plug directly into e-mail services such as Outlook in case you’d rather send files via that method instead of having your coworkers login to a particular interface.
Working from home isn’t ideal for everyone, but if you’re serious about making it a viable option, it’s essential to give yourself a specific work area and also practice effective communication techniques with your coworkers.