The Benefits of Telecommuting, Even for a Collaborative and Creative Team Like Evok Advertising

“Is it ok if I work from home today? I have a personal appointment I need to keep, and it won’t take long as it’s near my house.” Or “My child’s home sick and I don’t have daycare. I’ll be working from home today.” With 24 percent of Americans reporting they work some hours from home (Monthly Labor Review, June 2012), many companies are instituting telecommuting guidelines for their employees – and the creative and collaborative evok advertising team is no different.

Recently evok has been flexible in allowing employees to work from home one day per week. This short-term arrangement allows those employees whose commute to work has doubled due to our recent merger and move to a temporary office to telecommute. Account managers and operations staff speak of elevated productivity due to reduced interruptions, and “creative concerting space” is carved out for art directors. Additionally, the technology available today makes it nearly seamless for completing projects, but of course, not without some important structural guidelines applied.

Create separation. First and foremost, keep home and work life separate. Telecommunicating allows for enhanced flexibility; however, having children at home, especially young children, is difficult to manage and the work will suffer in the long run.

Additionally, stay focused on the task at hand. It’s very easy to be tempted to check off the household chore list. If this seeps into the day, performance can be affected and the privilege of telecommuting could be in jeopardy. It’s best to have a separate, quiet workspace in the home to manage the office duties and keep the distractions to a minimum. The kitchen table is not the solution.

Stay connected. Technology has made the ability to work from home a reality. Resources such as Skype, virtual private networks (VPN) software, GoToMeetings, instant messaging and e-mail allow the home office to stay in touch with the office and co-workers. Staying connected through technology and effective communication is imperative when working from home – whether to inject confidence in coworkers illustrating the telecommuter is easily accessible to complete a project or for the employee’s sense of belonging. Isolation can creep in if the employee doesn’t work hard to stay connected to the outside world.

Create a road map. Make a plan to complete the day’s work and stick to it. This will provide enhanced focus allowing the employee – and the office – to reach their project goals.

Set time limits. While working from home, it can be hard to step away from the computer. Create breaks over the course of the day to allow the body and mind to recharge. Just as in the office, employees who telecommute need a breather from time to time to maintain their productivity. Furthermore, “end the day.” The telecommuting workday has a start and finish just as working at the office.

Not all departments at the agency can be 100 percent productive at all times when working from home. Unfortunately, scenarios like troubleshooting a multi-function copier over the phone can be difficult to solve for the operations team. In these instances, it’s important to have a partner at the office to step in and assist.

Telecommuting takes effort. Employees are required to apply the proper planning and stay on the radar of their colleagues for working from home to be successful. If HR professionals and employees keep these guidelines in mind, telecommuting can be a beneficial experience for both the employee and the employer.