Human Resources

Telework and Telecommuting Series – Pt.4

Hey Compliance Warriors!

Time management can be difficult for anyone. It’s most often the quality people in the workforce are told they need to improve upon. We know our work lives can be chaotic WITHOUT the distractions of home life put into the mix, but let’s see how we can manage both. Read On…


Part Four: Time Management

Proper time management is a choice that we all have to make in our professional and personal lives. Managing our time successfully can make the difference between completing projects and falling behind in our duties and activities, which can lead to disciplinary actions. Teleworkers need to be especially aware of their time management because they are responsible for their work and their productivity. Only they can know what needs to be done and how they can manage to complete it all.

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Build a Little Flexibility into Your Schedule

Teleworkers do not always have a schedule that is set in stone. There are many things in life that we cannot control, but we can learn to cope with them and adjust them into our daily work schedule. Things will happen at work, such as the computer malfunctioning or the phone lines going down, but the key to not letting it affect your work is to accept it and move with it. You cannot control what happens, but you can control how you react to a problem or situation. That’s why it is important to be flexible in your schedule and realize that things can, and probably will, change. Be prepared to change or move plans if necessary and don’t rely on anything being permanent. By having an alternative/back up plan and accepting what you can control rather than what you can’t, you will feel more empowered in your work and less likely to let it affect how you perform.

Identify and Remove Time Wasters

When working remotely and away from other coworkers, it is easy to become distracted and waste time on minor things. Time wasters can occur any time and often times we don’t even realize we’re taking part in them. When we identify and remove these time wasters, it can improve concentration and help you stay focused. Time wasters can be personal, such as checking text messages or making personal calls, or even professional based, such as taking extra time to look for a file or project sheet. Take a few minutes to identify what actions or activities are distracting you through the day and wasting your valuable time. Give yourself a set time that you will not let these things distract you or take away from your current duty. You’ll be amazed how taking these small steps will improve your time management.

Four common time wasters and distractions:

  • Excessive checking of email/text/phone messages
  • Making personal phone calls
  • Extra time spent away from your work area
  • Extra time spent looking for things

Working with Time Zones

Virtual teams can have a hard time working together due to the different time zones and various locations. In many cases, time zones can range from 1-2 hours apart to almost 12 hours difference! Employees can work different hours and in a different time zone, which can throw off any employee schedule. It helps for employees and managers to keep a log or chart of their team members’ locations and time zones, as well as potential hours they work during the day. This can serve as a ‘cheat sheet’ to help keep up with optimal times to reach other team members. Learn the approximate time differences each zone has in order to help accommodate members you are trying to reach. Remember that your 9:00AM may not be the same as everyone else!

Using Free Time Wisely

In any position, there are often slow times or times when there isn’t much work to be done. But time is our most valuable asset and should not be wasted. One of the most over-looked aspects of time management is managing the extra time we may have.  When the work day has slow times or periods of down time, don’t use them as an excuse to goof off or take extra breaks. There is always something to be done in the office – the key is just knowing how to find it. Ensure that all projects are completed and tasks are taken care of. When they are, focus on tasks that may have been pushed aside earlier or placed on the back burner. If those are complete, take a second look at projects you’ve already done to ensure accuracy. You may need a new balance of job duties if your free time is a large percentage of your daily tasks. If this is the case talk to your colleagues to see if they need any help. Also talk to your manager to see if more work can be shifted to you; it may be a great opportunity to inquire about a raise or promotion.

Practical Illustration

Alex and Nick were working together on a team project. Although they are in different offices, they work together through computer files and phone calls. Nick lives in a time zone that is two hours behind Alex’s, so they know they have to work together during early hours and make sure the other one is on the same page. When Alex is working, he removes any food items he may have on his desk, since he knows it will distract him while trying to work. Since Nick normally finished his part faster than Alex, he uses that spare time to go over his assignment and study the next one coming up. Together, they are able to efficiently manage their time enough to successfully finish their project without having to rush or worry about overlooking any details.


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Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Corporation and Chief Content Developer at HelpDeskSuites.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more in her Compliance Warriors Facebook Group.

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