Not everyone wants to work from home. Some prefer to work in an office, surrounded by coworkers. (Extroverts, anyone?) But many people do their best work from home, or would like to give remote work a go. Do you have the right set of skills and home environment to excel at telecommuting? Find out if you have the traits you need to work from home.
What Traits Do You Need to Work From Home?
1. Being a self-starter. When you’re the only one in your “office,” you’re in charge of time management. Managers can still have a high degree of oversight via Slack, emails, and calls, but it’s up to you to supply the motivation for jumping into the right task at the right time.
2. Communication skills. Further, proactive communication skills, and knowing how to find the right balance. When you work remotely, communication is more important than ever. While everyone needs some “heads down” time to focus on getting work done, it’s important for clients and coworkers to be able to reach you in a timely manner.
It’s also important for you, as the remote worker, to proactively provide updates. You’ll want to take into account the needs of your client or company culture and adjust messaging accordingly. When you have a well-oiled process, it can be just as – if not more – smooth as an on-site team. Out of all the traits you need to work from home, communication is at the top of the list.
3. A quiet home environment. If you have roommates who are constantly blaring music, not only will this prove distracting, but it may very well get picked up in the background during work calls. This one may not be a trait, but it’s a must for telecommuting.
4. A home office (ideally). This one, on the other hand, isn’t an absolute must. Before I had a home office, I successfully worked out of my living room for years. But having a home office is ideal for multiple reasons.
First, separation of work and personal space. It’s important to maintain a work-life balance even when you work from home. If your living room feels like your office, any stress you have during the workday can be carried over into your attempts to relax at night.
Second, a home office helps you stay organized. If you have a specific area designated for work, you can better coordinate important papers, notes, devices, etc.
Third, a home office is optimal when you have video meetings. It’s hard to come across as professional if your laundry is visible in the background, or your spouse walks by during a video call.
5. Professional etiquette. This is just as important when working remotely as it is when working on-site. For example:
- Dressing appropriately during video meetings. There’s no need to wear ballroom attire. (In fact, that might look pretty odd!) But avoiding overly casual clothing while participating in a work video call helps cultivate a more professional mindset.
- Avoid eating during calls. There will be times when you have meetings around lunch time. If at all possible, try to eat before or after. If you’re on a long work call and have to eat, make sure to mute your mic.
- Using earbuds/headphones with a good mic. It’s important for colleagues to be able to hear you clearly during work calls. Employers are less likely to allow remote work if communication isn’t clear.
- Testing audio and visuals. Whenever you’re using a new program, mic, etc. it’s important to check the functionality of your sound and video. After all, you don’t want to waste your coworkers’ time by troubleshooting during an active meeting.
- Maintaining a positive tone. When so much of your communication is via calls and emails, it’s even more important to have an amicable tone. You might be great with emojis, but nothing replaces a warm, friendly voice to welcome collaboration.
6. Being tech-savvy. At an office, you would likely have access to an IT department that could come look at any hardware issues you might have. When you’re working from home, it’s helpful to be comfortable troubleshooting software and hardware issues yourself.
7. Being okay with more alone time. You don’t need to be an introvert for this one, especially if you have an active personal life outside of work hours. And many companies have very active Slack channels, so social contact overall might be just as frequent as in an office — it just won’t be in-person.
Do You Have the Traits You Need to Work From Home?
Although many offices still require on-site work, more and more are realizing that letting staff work from home has significant benefits for the employer as well. (To find out more about those, see our article on 10 Advantages of Hiring Remote Workers.)
If you’re looking for more best practices for working from home, see your guide on Tips and Tools for Working Remotely.
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