Working remotely offers people a world of benefits, which explains why so many are eager to adopt a telecommuting arrangement. But doing your job outside of a traditional office setting takes some getting used to, and if you go in unprepared, you could end up struggling or even hurting your career in the process. With that in mind, here are three remote work mistakes you should make an effort to avoid.
1. Getting too easily distracted
Make no mistake about it: Distractions are common in office environments, whether they come in the form of loud equipment, perpetually ringing phones, or chatty coworkers. But working remotely comes with its own host of distractions. If you decide to set up shop at a local coffeehouse, you can easily get thrown off your rhythm by the constant bustle of people coming in and out. You might also be tempted to strike up conversations, especially if you start to miss the camaraderie of office life.
Working from home, you'll be face to face with the pile of personal mail from the previous week that never got sorted, the laundry that desperately needs to get done, the dirty breakfast dishes, or the TV enticing you to take a break.
To combat such distractions, identify your biggest potential triggers, and engineer your environment in ways that will help you avoid them. For example, if you usually work from your living room, you might go so far as to put the TV remote elsewhere in the house, or even have your spouse hide it, to prevent you from falling prey to the temptation to turn it on and slack off. Or, you might pledge to only tackle your laundry in between tasks as a mental break of sorts -- but only after you've checked a number of key work items off your list.
2. Not setting boundaries
You'd think that a remote arrangement would lend to a better work-life balance, but if you're not careful, you can wind up in the opposite situation. This especially applies if you're usually doing your job from home. The reason? When your personal space and your office space are the same space, the temptation to do "just one more thing" work-wise is always there. That can make it a struggle to tear yourself away from your job, even at times when you're not expected to be on the clock.
The solution? Map out a schedule that defines when you will and won't be working. Granted, you can bend the rules here and there when workplace emergencies strike, but setting clear working hours means you'll be less likely to let your job take over too much of your life, a situation that can lead to you burning out.
3. Not having the right setup
Setting up shop in the corner of your kitchen or in a nook of your bedroom might seem like a good idea at first. But if you find that you're missing the key tools you need, or that you don't have enough room to spread out, you might quickly start hating your remote arrangement.
Therefore, assess your remote work space options before you bid farewell to the office. Make sure you can provide yourself with a reasonable environment for getting your job done. If, for example, part of your job involves comparing different website designs, you'll likely want to make sure you have a desk or table that's large enough to support multiple monitors. You may need a dedicated space to store supplies and documents. The key is to work out your setup appropriately in advance, to ensure that it's suitable for all your needs. Otherwise, you risk getting frustrated -- or worse, derailed.
Working remotely can be a positive experience in many ways. Just be sure to avoid the rookie mistakes that could make you regret taking a break from office life.