Human Resources

Telework and Telecommuting Series – Pt.7

Hey Compliance Warriors!

This is the second part of our organizing and planning section. There are many things to consider when we’re getting set up to work a home office, so let’s go over a few more of them. Read on…


Part Seven: Organizing and Planning

Organizing our home office or other work space can have great benefits for our productivity. When we organize and plan for the physical space, we are able to access our materials sooner and do not waste time trying to sift through them. When we organize our workflow, our productivity runs smoother and we’re able to accomplish more in our workday.

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Setting Up Your Home Office

Organizing your office means more than just keeping your pens and pencils together or putting things in a filing cabinet. The layout and design of the office can play a key role in how organized we can keep our work and projects. When in your work space, design your work layout so that everything is within your arm’s reach. This can reduce time spent looking for items that are in another location. Keep your desk more organized by only keeping projects that you are currently working with in your work area.

Projects that you have finished should be filed away in the appropriate place, while projects that you haven’t yet started should not be in the work area until you do. Ensure that all technical devices, such as computers and phones, are nearby and fully charged. If possible, keep them on a backup system in case of a power or server failure. For teleworkers, the flow of their home office can impact how they work since it is their main environment and only work space.

Remove Unneeded or Distracting Items

Even after you have set your mind to completing a task and checking it off of your to do list, the smallest distraction can make you lose focus and stop working. For teleworkers, many of them work from home and usually have personal items everywhere, such as photos, personal bills or even a pile of laundry. It is important that you remove any unneeded or distracting items from the work area and ensure that it is a professional area only. This can be hard to do when working from home, since your personal lives are just on the other side of the door. When setting up a home office, you should evaluate the space and look for any items that could be distracting or that do not belong. When we eliminate these distractions that can make us lose our focus, we will see an increase in production and spend less time trying to complete the same projects.

When Technology Fails

Teleworkers and virtual teams highly depend on technology and technological devices. They rely on them for information, research, and communication. But when they fail (and they will at some time or another), it can seem like a disaster. Managers and virtual teams need to create a backup plan for when technology fails – something that states what to do and how to handle certain situations. This plan should include all emergency contacts, any shift changes or rotations needed and all backup material for projects and assignments that may have been lost on computers or electronic files. This information is often kept in a large notebook or manual in each employee’s office and kept in an easy-to-access location.

Common items in backup materials:

  • Emergency contacts for managers and team members
  • Office locations for other team members
  • Project/assignment/client information
  • Alternate work schedules or shifts needed

Develop a Normal Working Day

Teleworkers and virtual teams are accustomed to planning their days and weeks, and one of the ways to be successful is to develop daily routine, or ‘normal working day’. When an employee follows a routine or regular day, the workflow can run smoother and can help employees adjust to their responsibilities. It can take time to develop a routine that works, but it is doable. Find time during the day where activities work best and what can help your day run the best.

Tips for building a routine:

  • Determine tasks you normally do or need to be done
  • Make a schedule or list of tasks
  • Factor in extra stress or surprises
  • Make it doable and leave room for changes or adaptations

Practical Illustration

Phillip has changed offices and is now a teleworker that is working from home. He knew that the first thing he needed to do was establish a home office space. He decided to use one of his empty bedrooms as an office and let his family know that it is for office use only. He kept a few framed photos on his desk, but removed everything else such as photo albums, laundry baskets, storage boxes and such that he knew would be distracted or take his attention away from his work.

He was worried about the power going out, so he made sure to have a backup source of contacts and files and kept them in a notebook on the back shelf. Phillip also made sure to have surge protectors and back up batteries for all of his devices that may go out or fail. Last, but not least, Phillip sat down and made a tentative schedule to follow while working in his new office. He included tasks to do and possible break times. The sooner he got into a new routine, the sooner he knew he would better adapt to his new space.


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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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