The current global pandemic, COVID-19, has changed the way we work. Anywhere in the world, the New Normal has taken place, employees and employers are beginning to wonder. How to effectively and productively work from home?
Whether you are an employee looking for a job from home or an employer looking for ways to maximize your productivity and improve employee communication and collaboration online. This article answers all that.
In this article, we will talk about how you can productively work from home either as an employer or an employee. Also, we will help you find out what you need to do in order to maximize your time at home and still be as productive as you used to in the office.
How to work from home as an employee or a freelancer.
If you are an employee or a freelancer, overall, there are 4 important things you must consider to work effectively and productively from home. If I have to start all over again, these 4 must-haves are something I would surely secure.
1. Prepare the tools you need.
First, you have to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment to be able to support your professional endeavors at home. Here are some of the basic tools and equipment that you need as follows:
- A working desktop or laptop computer
- Steady Internet connection
- A mobile or landline phone
- A dedicated workspace
2. Make sure to have additional accessories and portable gadgets
With these basic tools, you will be able to communicate with your coworkers as well as your employer online without difficulty. It would also help you to have an additional set of accessories for work. For example, a working web camera would also help you communicate well through video chat with any of your colleagues.
A few additional gadgets can also help you stay connected even if you are not in front of your computer. Whether it be a tablet or your mobile phone, having portable gadgets will definitely be helpful in keeping yourself updated with work related matters as well as personal correspondence.
3. A Dedicated Workspace at home
When working from home, you also have to have a dedicated workspace for your paperwork. This will allow you to give it your full concentration and be away from distractions as much as possible. Having a separate workspace at home will also provide you with personal time with your thoughts.
Because of this, you will not become confused as to which to prioritize especially if you are swamped with work.
4. A Specific Work Schedule to fulfill
If you don’t have an exclusive work-from-home space, it would be best for you to schedule your working hours. Choose specific hours in a day where you would have enough quiet time and privacy to do your job without interruption. This way, you will be more productive because you will have less time to procrastinate down the line.
The Importance of Reliable Internet Connection
You also should not forget the importance of having a fast and steady Internet connection. This is an important aspect of the work from home environment. If you don’t have a fast and steady Internet, you will not be able to stay connected with your peers and your employer all throughout the day.
Here are some highly recommended ISPs in the US.
You also have to think about the speed of your Internet connection. Right now, a fiber optic connection is the fastest and most reliable option you can have for the home. If you choose to work from home permanently, this is a type of connection that you will need. If you want to learn more about what each company can offer, please do not hesitate to contact them individually and inquire.
It will make your decision far more informed and easier to arrive at.
Now that you know what basic tools you need to get started, the next step is to focus on specific needs as an employer and an employee.
How to work from home as an Employer.
The short answer is, you need tools.
If you’re running your own company, your main goal is to keep track of employee progress as much as possible. With remote work, this can be quite a challenge because you are usually not there to monitor your employees for at least 8 hours a day unlike if you work in a traditional office space.
1. Ensure Employee Monitoring Software
Fortunately, there are many downloadable software programs that you can use to monitor your workforce remotely. It really depends on what exactly it is that you need from your workforce.
For example, if you need the work progress to be monitored, you can use a spreadsheet application such as Google Sheets to send instructions as well as any of the finished articles or documents that you might want to be sent throughout the day.
If you want to have regular meetings with the workforce, Zoom has been steadily on the rise ever since the lockdowns. There’s also older software such as Skype or FaceTime. It really depends on the nature of your home-based work as well as your specific needs from your employees.
2. Employ Communication Platforms
Some companies employ Facebook or Skype to communicate effectively. However, because of security issues, certain establishments stay away from social media when it comes to professional communication. There are far more secure programs that are available for the work from home employees.
These other communication options will be discussed later on in the article.
For employees, the traditional Skype and Facebook Messenger can work to handle personal communications with your coworkers from home. If you want a more secure communication channel, Slack can also help you out.
Some companies choose to go old school when it comes to communication even as they employ the work-from-home scheme. The mobile phones as well as connections via landline can definitely help minimize the risk of communication breaches, particularly at work.
3. Establish Security Protocols
Most companies also have a dedicated computer network to ensure that all their data and documentation is kept secure and encrypted. The same goes for banking information as well. If you want to employ this dedicated Computer Network in the event that you would need to work from home, you should contact your company to make sure that you will be set up with company-issued equipment that could be easily linked to the network.
Employers also have the option to get exclusive IP and domain names for their company to secure their online platforms down the line. By doing this, it will also be good for branding as well as the best safety and security in the future.
The Different Types of Communication Tools Available For Both Employers and Employees.
As promised, here is a list of available communication tools for both employers and employees that choose to work from home. Hopefully, you will find something that will be right for your particular needs.
This is something of an oldie but goodies. Skype has been around for many years now. It is one of the most well-known VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) software platforms that can be used to make both personal and business calls. The good thing about Skype is that it also has video chat features that allow users to see each other face to face via webcam. There are limitations to this particular program though. You would have to have a high-quality microphone as well as a good Internet connection to maintain steady communications with the one on the other end of the line.
The same goes for the webcam.
This is one of the newest communication platforms that has emerged during the quarantine period. It is a centralized communication hub that can host up to six or more participants in one call. By using this particular software, you will be able to hold a business meeting online without having to switch windows constantly.
Similar to Skype, it also has a video call feature that allows the participants to each other during a meeting.
In the early days, Yahoo and AOL employed the chat portals to help users communicate no matter where they are in the world. Messenger provides the same platform with much more privacy. Instead of going into a public chat room and communicating with multiple participants at a time, messenger provides the user with a private window that he or she can use to communicate with another friend on the same network.
All you have to do is to add your friends to a dedicated list of contacts that you would like to communicate with regularly.
A lot of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have also begun to use the messenger software to handle private communications online. The only problem with this particular type of communication tool is that there is always a risk of it being hacked. No matter how private it claims to be, these communication tools are always vulnerable to hackers.
The Importance of Having a Secure Network
This is why it is important for companies to have a dedicated network for their correspondence. Of course, the user also has to follow certain safety protocols to protect their data online. This especially applies to business correspondence and any kind of sensitive documents that might contain significant data regarding the company and its inner workings.
If you want to learn more about how to set up your own private network that could be connected to the company’s communication line, it would be best to contact your firm right away. They will surely set you up nicely.
Various Organization Tools Available
Part of working from home is the need to organize everything in your workspace. It helps you become more productive if you are able to spend your time wisely and prioritize your work despite having a heavy load.
This section will focus more on the many organization’s tools that you can use online to help with your documents as well as any lists that you might want to accomplish in the future.
1. Google Drive
We have already topped in passing about who will drive in the first few paragraphs of this article. However, I would like to speak about this particular tool in more detail. You can use Google Drive to save all documents in excel sheets that you might want to keep a record of on the web.
This will minimize clutter in your office while still giving you enough space to store everything that you need. The good thing about this particular program is that it automatically saves any changes that you might want to have done on your document.
It is also easy to upload files on the platform itself. All you need to do to register is to encode your email and password. Everything else will follow. If you already have your e-mail setup, you will be able to automatically access your Google Drive account and use it for work right away.
Through this particular website, you will be able to organize your instructions effectively. How does it work? First, you would have to create an account with your e-mail and password. After this, you will be able to start creating your boards as they call it.
After creating your boards, you will then be able to create cards that can contain instructions to various types of jobs that you would want your employees to do. Just make sure that you keep your instructions short and concise. This way, there will be no confusion among your employees.
This is another type of communication tool for professionals that works in a much more secure network. It is much like messenger in its interface. You will have to log into a private company account and enter a secure chat room of all the people on the same network.
This is highly secure because it is handled by the company administrator himself. He is the only one who has access to the network so your correspondence and messages are perfectly safe.
In fact, you even have to ask permission from the admin straighter if you would have to delete messages from your own window. Through this program, all correspondence are monitored directly by the higher up’s. It increases the security factor in the equation.
Additional Benefits and Pointers to Remember
Aside from being able to organize your workflow, another advantage of using these particular types of programs is that it automatically notifies the user of any changes that occur online.
You will receive an email regarding these changes so that you can rectify any mistakes accordingly. This is why using these programs would be much more convenient down the line because it is somewhat automated.
Having basic to more advanced knowledge of computers is also important. In fact, it is one of the most significant skills that you need to have if you really want to work from home.
Criteria to Look for in a Work-From-Home Employee.
If you’re the one hiring, you need to look for a remote employee that displays a few significant characteristics as follows:
You have to hire someone who is reliable. Reliability is an important trait particularly in remote work because employers will not be physically available to monitor the employee’s progress. Employers should be able to depend on their potential employees to finish the job he is assigned at the designated time.
This way, business operations will continue to run smoothly even if the employees continue to work virtually.
B. A Strong Sense of Responsibility
A remote employee should be conscientious enough to handle any task given to him. He should be efficient when performing the task. While there is always room for mistakes, a responsible employee should always try to rectify them before submission. This way, the employers will not end up spending more time correcting the mistakes down the line.
Employee responsibility implies that he’s able to listen to instructions and follow them clearly. He or she should not hesitate to ask questions if and when they’re necessary.
As an employer, if you are able to find a remote employee with such characteristics, you will have hit the proverbial jackpot!
C. Honesty and Integrity
Remote employees should always be honest in their dealings. Since work-from-home jobs are done online, employers will not be there to supervise the employee 24/7. In this regard, employees should be trustworthy. They should not do anything to harm the company in any way, shape, or form.
With this in mind, lying on the resume is a big no-no. This will be discussed later on in the article. If you find an applicant that has credentials that sound too good to be true, there is a chance that they are not forthcoming about their working history.
D. Significant and Related Work Experience
While newbies are always welcome in the work-from-home industry, large-scale companies tend to prefer hiring people with experience for any type of job. This is because significant experience reduces the need for training.
As an employer, it is also far easier to work with someone who knows what they’re doing already prior to being hired. You will not need to supervise them as well. All you need to do is to give them the instructions and they can do their job easily.
By hiring someone who is capable of working alone, you will be able to trust that he or she can do the job faster without supervision. This is not to say that being a team player is not important. He should also be able to work with others while having a basic understanding of what the job description entails.
This way, your online operations will run more smoothly and efficiently because you can rely on your employees to do a near-perfect job with just a few clear instructions.
F. Great Interpersonal and Communication Skills
You should hire someone who works well with others. Just because you will work remotely, it doesn’t mean that you will not have to deal with other people in the company. By hiring someone who is a team player with good communication skills, you can be assured that he or she can receive instructions well enough and would be able to follow through.
He or she will also be able to handle online correspondence well without you having to explain things repeatedly.
Learning To Work from Home
Having all the necessary equipment is just the first step in successfully transitioning from an office environment to the home based job. Once you have the right equipment, you will be able to take the next step and prepare yourself for the daily grind of home based employment.
Below are some tips that can help you prepare for your work from home endeavor effectively.
The first thing that you need to do is to divide the preparation process into three parts. You would have to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. This section will discuss how to do it easily without delay.
1. The Mental Preparation
To have this change not be a shock to your system, you ought to prepare yourself mentally for the situation head. This is important because some professionals are not used to staying at home for long periods. If your mind is not used to the home environment, it may have difficulty adjusting to regularly staying at home for work.
Here are some steps you can take to acclimate mentally.
a. Decrease Your Stopovers
Spend at least 2 to 3 weeks getting used to the idea of staying at home. From your office, go straight home. Make fewer stops along the way. By doing this, you will have more focus and energy spent on preparing the house for the next phase of your work from home scheme.
b. Spend as Much Time at Home as Possible
Also, if you don’t have to go out, try not to. This way, your body will get used to the environment much more quickly. If you train your body to not want to go out of the house physically, your mind will soon follow.
It would also help you to dry and emulate your office routine and schedule at home. Start your day as you would if you were going to the office. This way, you can make sure that you would still have something to look forward to every day.
c. Dress the Part
Before getting to work, change clothes as if you are going to the office. By wearing your workloads, you will be able to cite yourself up for the day ahead even if you don’t have to leave the house. Besides, you never know when you might need to have virtual meetings with your colleagues. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
d. Have Your Own Workspace
When preparing yourself mentally for working at home, it would help to have your very own workspace. This way, you will be able to separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of your house. However, what if you don’t have enough space in your house for a dedicated home office? We will discuss that situation later on.
e. Communicate with the Outside World
Aside from this, it would also help you to try to maintain communication with people outside your house. It is quite common for people who work from home to spend all their locked up in their home office trying to finish any assigned project.
However, if you want to maintain a sound mind while working from home, it will definitely help you to be in constant communication with other people outside of the family. Fortunately, with the advent of technology, you can now communicate with other individuals both locally and internationally without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
You can use all the communication platforms mentioned above to keep in contact with your colleagues as well as your friends on the web. This way, you will have time off from the pressure of work while still being available for any work-related problems that may need your immediate attention.
These are just some of the major ways for you to prepare yourself mentally before working from home. It is important that you are ready to face any challenge that might come your way even if you don’t have to leave your house. This is why it would help you to follow the tips above as soon as possible.
2. The Physical Preparation
If you want to be able to handle the work mentally, you have to prepare your body for the pressure as well. The question is how are you supposed to do this if you have in your bedroom right next door?
Admittedly, it can be very difficult to physically do anything at home. It is very tempting to just lie in bed all day and not be as productive as you would outside the house. This is why you would have to make a prized effort to be physically active when staying at home. How will you do this? Follow the steps below right away.
a. Develop a Routine
The first thing you need to do is to develop your own routine. Make a schedule that has nothing to do with work at least for the first few weeks. Think of it as your personal time away from your work. By doing this, you will be able to break away from the pressure of deadlines and take care of your body much more fully.
Here is what your routine can consist of:
- A brisk walk in your backyard
- Household Chores
By doing anything physical all throughout the day, you will be able to remind your body that goal there changes in your lifestyle, it’s nothing too drastic. The important thing here is that your body does not remain stationary for too long. If it happens, this is where the problems start.
Let’s say that you are already working from home. Chances are, it forces you to sit in front of your computer screen for hours in a day. This is where you would have to make a conscious effort to counteract the effects of being sedentary. Having regular physical activity at home will help you do this.
b. Take Short but Frequent Breaks
Take a 10 to 15-minute break every 2 hours. This way, you will be able to stretch your legs and move around the house without having to sacrifice the quality of work that you will produce from home.
Again, this may be difficult to do especially if you are used to sitting down all the time. However, if you want to stay healthy while working from home, it is important to remain physically as much as possible. This way, you will not end up having more health problems than you should because of working from home.
c. Eat Healthily
If you want to be physically strong to handle any kind of pressure that you might experience from work, you have to watch your diet. If possible, try not to skip meals especially if you’re going to work from home.
This way, you will have the energy to spend finishing your deadlines. By eating healthy, you will also provide your brain with enough nourishment to perform their tasks well.
The question is, what should you be eating? Fruits and vegetables as always ago two when it comes to health and wellness. It has all the vitamins and minerals that you would need to gain enough energy to work hard and still be able to spend time with your family.
Taking lots of water and juices will also help replenish any nutrients that might decrease throughout the day. This would also help if your workspace is not very well ventilated.
By following these two major tips, you will be able to have your body and mind acclimate to the work-from-home situation pretty quickly. It is important that you remain disciplined and focused all throughout this situation. If you fail to do this, you might end up not being able to perform well at work which can lead to your dismissal down the line.
How to Prepare Your Resume
If you’re planning to work from home, chances are you already know how to create a good resume. This action will discuss how you can improve it even more to attract companies that already embraced the work-from-home scheme.
1. Keep It Short
First, you have to keep it short. More often than not, employers look at the first page of your resume and don’t spend much time pouring over the rest of the document. To attract potential employers, you have to focus on the salient points of your career.
2. Focus On What Matters
Include your educational background as well as any extracurricular activities and that you may have participated in during your school years. This highlights your keep abilities as an individual and as a team player.
3. Discuss Related Skills
If you’re applying for a specific job, try to include data points in your resume that will highlight your capability to excel in the field that you are applying for. For example, if you are trying to get a decision as a virtual assistant, it would help to include past work experiences that showcase this particular field.
4. Find a Home-Based Career That Is Familiar to You
If you’re new to the home-based careers you are trying to apply for, it would be best to find an option that would relate to your current job outside of the home. For example, if you are a teacher and would like to work from home, it would be best to you look for jobs that has to do with tutoring online.
By doing this, you will be able to apply your real-world experience to your online endeavors effectively.
More Reminders: The Importance of Honesty and Integrity
When constructing your resume, it is also important to not embellish too much. Being honest about your work experience as well as your educational background will go a long way in earning your if potential employers’ trust.
Honesty is important if not more so when applying for a job online. Why? Because your employer will not be able to see you personally. He will only have to rely on how you percent yourself on paper or through the screen. If you are not honest about your credentials, how will your employer be able to work with you remotely?
With these pointers, you will definitely be able to improve your resume and then yourself the work from home job that will fit your skills tremendously. What is important here is that you treat the application as significantly as you would if you are applying for a job outside of your home.
If you do this, you will reap the rewards of your efforts sooner rather than later for sure.
Work-From-Home Companies and Industries You Can Apply For
Now that you know how to improve your resume for the work from home environment, we can now discuss some of the most popular industries and companies that you can apply for write in the comfort of your own home.
These companies are aware of the conveniences that technology has to offer and have already taken measures to use it to the fullest extent that it can allow. Interested to learn more? Please continue reading right away. You will definitely learn a lot from this section.
1. The BPO Industry
The business process outsourcing industry or those more popularly known as call centers already promotes and uses work-from-home schemes. It’s just a matter of transporting the equipment from the office to the employee residence. If you already work for a call center, chances are they have already offered you this option at one time or another.
For starters, you will get to earn around $50,000 for a standard customer care representative or tech support job.
2. The Medical Field
Various clinics and hospitals have been known to hire online personnel to handle administrative work remotely. These remote workers are the ones in charge of payroll and patient information gathering among many other administrative duties.
Remote employees are also often hired to handle medical transcription. These people are the ones who record and transcribe statements spoken during a private meeting or medical symposiums held in the hospital.
Hospital translators can also work from home. All they need is a working phone line and flexible availability. These people are called upon to translate if ever there are four in our patients that don’t understand English.
Estimated wages range from 30 to 40,000 U.S. dollars a month depending on the type of job that you choose to get.
3. Customer Service Companies
Any establishments that require people to call in for support and service can hire remote employees. Restaurants, telecommunications companies, government and private firms are just a few of those in need of a regular support staff.
A customer service representative will be the one to receive calls from people would want to know more about the services that the company can offer. Aside from remote help and support, customer service representatives can also be involved in providing help when it comes to giving directions or emergency medical assistance.
A good example of a customer service operator would be those working wave the police department. They have both remote and live staff working to handle emergency calls. Same goes for the 911 operators. They easily connect those who need help to the necessary agencies that would be able to give them aid in times of crisis.
In terms of income, a regional customer service manager can earn around 100 to $200,000 a month. For a standard customer service agent, the income ranges from 40 to $50,000 monthly. Of course, the numbers would depend on the hiring entity.
4. Telemarketing and Advertising Industries
Sales and advertising companies also require promote employees for telemarketing and online promotional endeavors. These remote employees will handle both inbound and outbound calls that aim to sell and promote products and services both online and through the phone.
This will work for you if you already have experience with sales and marketing companies. The good thing about this is that you will be able to do all these and more writing your own backyard. You can earn at least $50,000 a month if you work in this industry.
Finding Work-From-Home Opportunities
You can easily find remote work by posting your credentials online. Whether it be on your social media account or any of those freelancing and job advertising websites such as Upwork, Craigslist or Freelancer, you will surely find the employer that will fit your home-based needs sooner rather than later.
As for telemarketing and advertising companies, if you are already working in the BPO industry, you will certainly be able to find telemarketing opportunities easily. Just make sure that you are able to do your research properly before applying.
Make sure that you will get to work for a reputable company online. This way, you will be able to get what you deserve in terms of wages and net worth.
The Question of Salary
The overall income for the aforementioned industries depends on the type of industry that you are going to work for from home. Luckily, most work-from-home industries adopt the hourly payment scheme.
If you’re interested to find out more about the work-from-home scheme and how it can become a permanent job opportunity for you, please do not hesitate to continue reading about this topic. Also, if you are already a professional it wouldn’t hurt to ask your company about their work from home options.
Remote work is something extremely convenient to do. However, it is not for everyone. You would have to be prepared to take on this challenge wholeheartedly. Otherwise, you will end up failing in this endeavor for sure.