Many individuals who rely heavily on phone conferencing and web conferencing do so because they work from home or from outside the office frequently. Whether you do freelance or remote work, run a business out of your home office, or have a flexible schedule that allows you to conduct some work from home, chances are you very much rely on connecting with people over the phone or internet to get your business done.
Because working from home grows increasingly popular with the rise of entrepreneurism and changing office environments, we thought we’d share some tips for telecommuters on how to make working from home work for you—and how to use conference calling to do so. Here are a few key tips.
Get yourself out of bed and ready in the morning as if you had to be at the office by a certain time. Set an alarm and get up to take a shower, get dressed, and do whatever else you would to get ready to leave the house early. Don’t stay in your pajamas or you will be setting yourself up for a sleepy, unfocused state of mind.
Some even find that getting into full work clothes, styling their hair, doing makeup, putting on watches and accessories, or anything else they might do to prepare for seeing others in a professional working environment helps them get into work mode at home. Even though it might seem overkill to do all of this when you might not see another soul all day in the comfort of your home, just this act of preparation can help get you going and focused for the day.
Don’t delay or start household chores with the time you might have spent commuting to an office—just jump right in to work. Stick to a normal 8:00 or 9:00 am start time, or even earlier if you work well in the early morning. This will help you stay on track and accomplishing a good bulk of your work before midday.
Find a place in your home that’s uniquely dedicated to work, whether it’s a full, private home office or simply a table in a quiet area that you can sit up straight and focus at. Have your computer, phone, a headset, and any other equipment you’ll need for a web or phone conference close by, plugged in, and ready. Keep any physical files and other materials well-organized. Start or end every day by quickly tidying this space.
Having a designated office, no matter how informal, can also get you a tax deduction if you don’t have another office space and use your home office space exclusively for work. You can write off all business expenses associated with your home office, and even a percentage of your home and utility costs according to how much space it takes up.
For many people, a good designated work space at home simply doesn’t exist, or it’s too hard not to be distracted by other things at home. In this case, get out of the house however you can. Maybe you walk, bike, or take a short drive to your favorite nearby coffee shop, library, or even a co-working space. Being around others, even if they aren’t working, can help keep you accountable and give you a change of pace from your familiar home environment.
Make a schedule at the beginning of the day for exactly what you’d like to get done that day while working remotely. If you’re used to working in an office environment, try to structure the day as you would at the office. Do you answer emails first thing? Have a goal to close a sale before noon? Like to hold meetings toward the end of the day? You don’t need to stray from your typical office routine.
Conduct your communications seamlessly by scheduling your conference calls well ahead of time. You can use phone conferencing for day-to-day audio meetings and conversations, and web conferences for rich virtual meetings, sales presentations, and other opportunities for face-to-face communication with a whole host of features.
You should also lay some ground rules for communication with others in your area. If you share your home workspace with other people—family members, a roommate, a spouse, even a pet—you need to let them know when they can and cannot talk to or disturb you. Or you can physically remove yourself from others if possible to avoid the temptation.
You can also let others who are not in your vicinity know not to call, text, or otherwise try to engage you in personal or other non-work topics. Sometimes even colleagues will hear you are at home and assume they can discuss personal topics with you, unless you set “office hours” or let them know you are conducting work as normal.
It might sound small, but a good conference speakerphone is actually essential to any person who conducts work from home. This is because speakerphone can help block out background noises, conversations, etc. that may be out of your control when working at home or in a coffee shop or other crowded space with public WiFi.
A conference speakerphone that includes quality speaker and a microphone is also essential for holding conference calls, ensuring you can easily hear and be heard. Using a good conference speakerphone on a phone or web conference reduces the chance of echoes, feedback, and popping.
Make sure you stay well-connected to colleagues and other contacts, even more so than you might in an office environment. Dial in or login to meetings remotely if you work for a company with a physical office where your colleagues meet. Or hold your own meeting using a phone or web conferencing service. You can facilitate easy and efficient collaboration with a team by sharing files, making changes and contributions with markup tools, and engaging participants through polling and Q&A sessions.
Favor a quick phone conference call or web conference over a more passive email or text whenever you can. Using your voice or a video feed helps to make greater and more memorable connections with contacts, who you might otherwise have less of a presence with if you can’t meet with them in person. It’s important to take any chance to use your personality, body language, and voice to help make communication more powerful, which can still be accomplished remotely with mobile conferencing.
Particularly if you own your own business out of your home, it’s essential to stay in contact with colleagues and partners, find new customers, and grow your business remotely. It’s more possible than ever to do this virtually, but you have to be diligent. First, get active on LinkedIn and any other online platforms that people in your industry use to connect. Work on joining virtual groups and conversations to get your name out there and get access to new networks.
Then, try using conferencing software in new ways to generate leads and reach out to new audiences. For instance, you can launch products and marketing initiatives with a webinar or webcast to reach global audiences instantly with large event conferencing. Presentations are more interactive and engaging when participants have the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback in real time.
Sales calls are also a breeze with the support of the interactive features available between you and your prospect on a web conference. Follow up with shared files and other materials right within the call, avoiding the time and connection that can be lost between a typical sales conversation and follow-up emails. What’s more, you can use a conference recording as a paid or on-demand offering on your website. Recordings can continue to generate new leads just by sitting there.
The temptations to not get work done at home are obvious and numerous: easily getting caught up in household chores, conversations with friends and family, social media and other leisure activities, or simply having nothing to stop you from lying down on the couch for a 2-hour nap.
Do whatever you need to in order to limit your temptations at home. Do you need to put your personal cell phone in the other room? Put a blocker on social media sites while you use your computer for work? Put up a big “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door? Get creative with how to be your own boss when it comes to discipline.
On the other hand, it’s well known that taking regular breaks can actually help you get more work done in a day. A 15-minute break every hour is shown to improve the work and focus of that other 45 minutes, but you should choose whatever break schedule works best for you. Set a timer if you need to.
Household distractions can actually turn into useful breaks if you allow them to work in tandem with your business. For instance, you could set a work goal that you must complete before a load of laundry is done, then take a break to go take it out (and maybe throw in a jog up and down the stairs a few times for some exercise), then get right back to work.
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