Work from Home Hacks: 7 Telecommuting Productivity Boosters


It’s no surprise that telecommuting continues to steadily rise with the promise of flexibility and cost-efficiency resonating among employees and employers alike. For employees, the benefits of working remotely are pretty obvious: eliminating a long commute; wardrobe savings; and availability for family, to name a few. But, what’s in it for employers?  Besides the tangible allure of savings in real estate-related costs, businesses that offer the ability to work from home benefit from an increased level of employee satisfaction (reducing attrition levels, saving more money) and ultimately improved productivity.

Working remotely also offers plenty of distractions (like household chores) that office dwellers don’t have to fight off. So, how do you stay productive when the laundry or your comfy bed starts calling?

I wasn’t always a work from home-er, so making the transition away from the 9-5 cubicle life was met with anxiety about how to keep myself on track without going into an office. Now almost two years in, I thought I’d share some helpful hacks for staying productive beyond cubicle walls.

Maintain a Morning Routine.
Without a commute it’s tempting to roll out of bed 5 minutes before your workday starts, but sustaining a pre-work routine is integral to kicking your day off on the right (productive) foot. Treat yourself as you would if you were due into the office at 9 by showering, getting dressed (work is the last thing I feel like doing in PJs) and making yourself a decent breakfast. A good morning routine really sets the tone for the rest of your day; so, don’t skip this one!

Designate a Clean Office Area.
This is probably the most important hack on my list. Working from home does not mean working from under the covers (barring extenuating circumstances)! Not only does this promote laziness, it also blurs the already hazy line of “work” and “home.” I’ve found it essential to set up a workspace away from any areas of relaxation (TV room, bedroom, etc.) in order to physically distinguish a time for work and a time for play. It also should come as no surprise that a neat, uncluttered desk fosters efficiency; so, keep it clean people!

Schedule Your Day.
It’s not uncommon for a day in the life of a telecommuter to be speckled with frequent conference calls that make it difficult to string together productive hours/minutes in between.  At the beginning of every workday, set aside a few minutes to plan your day around any calls so that you are able to be fully productive even (especially) when you only have 15 minutes before your next meeting. There will always be unexpected requests and the occasional fire drill that can upend your plans, but by scheduling your time out at the beginning of the day you will be able to recognize if/when you are veering off track. 

Some days it just feels better to get out of the house and work around other people. When that’s the case, transplanting your laptop to the nearest Starbucks can make you feel like a new person and bolster your ability to get things done. If walking to your favorite café in 30-degree weather seems unbearable, Coffitivity is the next best thing. Coffitivity brings the background hustle and bustle right to the comfort of your own home (office). 

With working from home on the uptick, most cities and suburban towns have enjoyed an increase in co-working spaces. If telecommuting makes you feel too isolated, you may want to look into a co-working option, where you can rent desk space based on the number of days a week or month you’d like to get out of the house.

Stay Social.
Just because you are working from the confines of your own home doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected to your coworkers across the globe. At Function1, we use Slack to maintain communication with colleagues we may not see regularly. It’s important to continue to cultivate work relationships without the daily opportunity of face-to-face interaction in order to quell feelings of isolation.

No, not on your iPhone. If you work in an organization with a population dispersed across the nation or globe (or maybe you are a freelancer, or otherwise self-employed) it might not be unusual to go a few days without the need (or opportunity) to have an in-person, adult conversation. Carve out time during the week to make lunch plans with friends or family, should your schedule allow. If you’re anything like me creating some face-time (even if it’s not work related) will make you feel less secluded, and in turn, spur productivity.

There’s an App for That.
If the old-fashioned pen and paper to-do list just isn’t cutting it then you’re in luck - there are lots of apps out there that were developed to promote efficiency. Trello is great not only because it’s free but it’s also an easy way to visualize tasks from inception to completion.  If you’re a gamer at heart, try motivation task manager habitica, an app that turns your to-do list into a mid-90s video game world.  

Fellow telecommuter? What’s your secret to staying productive? Tell us in the comments below!

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