Telecommuting Tips & Tools

significant other

10 Tips for Successfully Working from Home with a Significant Other

Research shows couples who work together stay together. Here are 10 tips to help you and your significant other maintain a balance in your personal and co-working relationship.

significant other

 

10 Tips for Successfully Working from Home with a Significant Other

Working with the person you love always sounds like a dream, but it can quickly become a nightmare. However, the rewards tend to outweigh the risks. The Boston Globe shares research results proving that couples who work together show signs of increased job and family satisfaction.

Telecommuting with your significant other definitely puts unique pressures on your relationship, but it can be well worth the effort. Use these tips to help you and your partner develop a healthy and functional remote work environment at home.

1. Separate Business and Pleasure

The golden rule for working with a significant other is to keep work and home life separate. However, this is easier said than done, especially when you work at home. For starters, keep all business finances separate from personal accounts. For example, use a business checking account or credit card for work-related expenses. Resist the temptation to dip into family funds to pay for new office equipment or use company credit cards to buy gifts for the kids.

Also, try as much as possible to keep personal disagreements out of your home office. Consider addressing relationship issues as you would coworker disputes and be as civil and productive as possible to resolve the conflict. You may even need to work in separate spaces until you sort out personal differences.

“You are everything.” – Jim, The Office

2. Practice Smart Role Play

Your roles at home might be different than your roles in business, which can sometimes cause tension and control struggles. However, to be successful, you must focus on each other’s strengths. The more honest you are with yourselves, and the more you play to your strengths, the stronger you are as a couple.

For example, if one of you is better at crunching numbers, let that person lead budgeting and financial planning efforts. If one is better at technology, allow that person to manage software updates and Wi-Fi troubleshooting. Even if you don’t work for the same company, you can still work together as a team.

Also, divide household chores fairly so that you’re both responsible for maintaining your home. Create a schedule and assign tasks so that responsibilities are clear.

“So, it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day.” – Noah, The Notebook

3. Get a Room

It’s challenging to share a home and workspace with a significant other, especially when you have completely different work styles and preferences. For example, one of you may love working in cozy pajamas all day, while the other prefers to clean up and put on professional attire.

To help establish boundaries and maintain personal space, create a separate work area in a spare room, oversized closet, or basement. If there’s not enough real estate for each of you to have your own office, then either commit to being officemates or create a work schedule so that each of you gets some quiet time alone.

However, there’s no need to feel like you’re stuck at home. Take your laptop to a coffee shop once in a while or consider a co-working space as an alternative work environment. Even some time in the backyard or on the front porch can give you enough space to concentrate.

Allow your co-working relationship to help you develop a stronger bond and learn more about each other. Enjoy having a telecommuting buddy to chat with when work gets challenging.

“I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.” – Baby, Dirty Dancing

4. Use Safe Words

Let’s be real: You’re going get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Whenever one of you is annoyed or at a tipping point, try using a safe word to let the other person know you need a break. For example, if your significant other whistles while she works, give her some time to play her tune, but use your safe word to let her know when you’ve reached your limit.

Think of funny words to break the tension, such as “catawampus” or “nincompoop.” You can also choose a word that represents a fond memory, like the name of a city you visited or the main character of the first movie you watched together. Find an inside joke that keeps things light while letting the other person know you need a bit of a break from the shenanigans.

“In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find someone who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you.” – Mac, Juno

5. Engage in Conversation

Co-working with your significant other can leave little interest for conversation at supper time, but it’s important to maintain personal interactions outside of work. A study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia found that married couples who have dedicated couple time at least once per week are much happier in their marriages, which mean they are less likely to divorce or separate.

As a telecommuting couple, you can spice things up a bit by going on lunch dates and hitting up happy hour. If you have kids and don’t want to leave the house, have a picnic in the backyard or subscribe to a meal delivery service and prepare delicious dinners together.

Stay in tune with each other’s thoughts, feelings, and interests. Recognize that there may be more to learn about each other, even though you seem to spend every waking moment together.

Strong relationships take work. So, when you clock out from your job, you need to clock into your personal relationship to ensure your home life is balanced.

“In case I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight.” – Vivian, Pretty Woman

6. Give Each Other Downtime

When conversation gets annoying, or you need some space, give each other time each day to be alone. If you live in a small place, try having one of you go into a separate room and shut the door to relax. Maybe you can even schedule a few hours each week to be completely alone. For example, one of you gets the whole place to yourself on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, while the other gets Monday and Friday mornings to romp around solo. Figure out what works for you and respect each other’s need for privacy.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she had to walk into mine.” – Rick, Casablanca

7. Stay on Top of Each Other

Be each other’s accountability buddy so that you optimize your time and do excellent work. Keep each other accountable for achieving goals. Help each other pick up the slack when things get busy. Listen to each other’s needs and struggles and be there to help support.

As an exercise that can help both your career paths, have a career planning meeting where you each set goals and devise routes to achievement. Post the plans on the wall for both of you to see, track milestones, and leave encouraging feedback. It always helps to have a trusted accomplice on your path toward success. Plus, witnessing someone else working toward a goal can motivate you to work toward your own.

“You make me want to be a better man.” – Melvin, As Good as It Gets

significant other

 

8. Enjoy the Closeness

Most working couples spend at least eight hours apart from each other each day. Factor in time spent commuting to and from the office, occasional overtime, after-work errands and social events, and much-needed personal time, such as showering and sleep, and you’re looking at just a few hours each day of quality togetherness.

Work-at-home couples have the advantage of developing stronger bonds by being physically present more of the time. How wonderful it is to spend so much time together and truly venture through life arm in arm! Be grateful for the comradery and remember how awesome it is, even when you’re at each other’s throats.

“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” – David, Love Actually

9. Take a Couples Retreat

Take a break to enjoy life outside of work. Use some of your hard-earned cash to treat yourself to a couple’s trip. Remember, as telecommuters you have the luxury of taking your work with you wherever they go. So, if you want to travel while earning income, bring your laptops while you visit new cities.

If you have different ideas of what it means to have fun while traveling, take a day or two for solo exploration. Make it into a game by seeing who can check as many sites off on their list, eat the strangest food, or find the funniest random fact. Share pictures and stories at the end of the day, then snuggle up and enjoy adventuring with a companion.

If you don’t want to travel too far from home, spend a staycation in the downtown area of the nearest city. Check out museums, attend a concert, or stay in those fluffy white sheets all day and order room service.

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” Harry, When Harry Met Sally

10. Stop and Smell the Roses

Always take time to pay attention to the little things that matter, as they tend to matter the most. Force yourselves to slow down and take breaks from work. A study by Staples Business Advantage shows that 78% of workers feel more productive throughout the day when they take breaks. Use the free time to connect as a couple or simply enjoy a few moments of peace by yourself.

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” – Christian, Moulin Rouge

Want to Take Things to the Next Level?

If you want to give your work-at-home relationship that extra special something, leave sweet love notes at each other’s desk, send each other cute emails on occasion, or get flowers delivered by surprise. Think about the kind gestures you’d make if your significant other worked in a traditional office and incorporate such romantic acts at home to keep your relationship thriving.

If daily romance isn’t really your thing, then stick with open communication as the primary key to a healthy relationship. Hopefully, you feel comfortable enough to be honest about your feelings and work through conflict constructively. Accommodate each other’s work style preferences and need for personal space as much as possible. Since you know each other through and through, practice accepting each other with all your flaws and features.

If you can leverage each other’s strengths, work through your differences, and support each other in work and play, then you’ll make unstoppable telecommuting team.

Have you ever worked from home with a significant otherShare your tips for successfully sharing work and personal lives under the same roof when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/izusek; 1. iStock.com/jacoblund


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

online courses

Online Courses: 4 Tips for Taking Your Remote Career to the Next Level

Through online courses and certifications, telecommuters easily maintain a competitive edge. Read on for four tips on how taking affordable online courses can be a profitable investment in your remote career. 

online courses

Online Courses: 4 Tips for Talking Your Remote Career to the Next Level

Employers look for remote workers who show initiative and who can adapt to changing work conditions. Part of adapting is staying current on trends and technology in your field. One of the best ways to do this is through online courses and seminars.

There are hundreds of online courses and resources available to help you learn new skills, refresh your knowledge in your specialty areas, and master technical abilities. Before you decide on your approach to online learning, you need to be clear on what your expectations are, how much time you can devote to online courses, and what skills are most valuable to your remote career field.

Follow these four tips for making the most out of online courses for career advancement:

1. Understand the Value of Online Courses

Much like online and remote work, digital education provides a de-concentration of knowledge allowing anyone with an Internet connection to develop new skills and compete for high-paying positions.

Online education makes education accessible to people who were previously left out due to geographic and economic barriers.

The availability of online courses is a prominent characteristic of our global economy, were competition takes on new meaning in the workforce, particularly for remote workers.

Some experts predict that in the next few decades there will be a transformation of education whereby online learning will function as the primary source of education for both professionals and students. However, this does not have to be an overwhelming fact. You can use the rise in online education to your advantage.

There are numerous ways to gain profitable skills without having to complete an entire degree program or balance campus visits with your work schedule. One of the most important skills in the current work culture is continual learning. No matter what generation you belong to, you can advance your skills and your career with the right online courses.

2. Define Your Goals

Pursuing an online degree isn’t for everyone. You may benefit from one online course, a conference live-stream or webinar series, or a short certification program.

Before you enroll, you must take the time to figure out what skills you need to acquire. This will largely be determined by your professional growth plan. Depending on your employment status, you can develop a strategic map of your professional goals that will act as a guide to your educational pursuits.

Advice for Permanent Remote Employees

If you currently work from home, you have proven you can manage responsibilities, communication, and deadlines while working independently. Many of the skills that have helped you become a successful telecommuter are the same skills you can enhance to gain a promotion or take on additional responsibilities within your company.

Seek opportunities to get to know coworkers within other departments. Are you intrigued by the marketing team’s efforts to perfect their campaigns? Have you been learning a few programming languages and want to know more about the development team? Reach out to coworkers and other colleagues. The best way to build authentic connections at work is to show genuine interest.

Understanding the big picture of how your company operates is the best way to decide where you’d like to make a contribution. Once you are clear on where you want to go, it is much easier to devise a plan of action.

Write down the key skills, certifications or education you will need to reach your goal. If you have a mentor or member of your professional network currently working in a similar position to the one you want to take on, share your goals with that person. Getting feedback on your approach can save you from spending time and money on certifications or online courses that may not be essential.

Advice for Telecommuting Freelancers

If you are a freelancer who wants to expand your business, there are several ways you can approach your goal through online courses. Before you take action to transition from full-time freelancer to business owner, take the time to write down your goals.

  • Are you looking for more financial freedom?
  • Do you want to hire additional workers?
  • Are you interested in traveling more or fostering more influential connections?

Knowing your intentions is an important first step. It is inevitable that short-term goals will change along the way, but a strong foundation rooted in a long-term goal will help you develop a concrete, measurable plan.

Connections are just as crucial for freelancers as they are for permanent employees. Having a strong network, whether in the form of an online community or an in-person group, can facilitate valuable resources for brainstorming ideas and gaining practical advice from other business owners.

Look for an entrepreneur in your circle who has accomplished something you’d like to achieve. Be sure to do your research and become informed on any articles or talks they have given if you don’t have a personal relationship. Many successful business owners are open to dialogue when you approach them with ideas on how you can both benefit. Consider interning or helping with a project in exchange for their expertise.

3. Find Online Courses

Once you are clear on why you want to pursue additional training, you can begin the research process into available online courses.

Some courses are designed to be short and provide basic introductory information into a topic such as business management, JavaScript or content marketing. Meanwhile, other courses provide a series of lessons over a period of months that can help you master a topic of interest.

Depending on your career goals, you may want to consider paying a fee for a certification in your topic of choice. If you do decide to go this route, it is crucial that you choose a program with credibility.

The following online course companies are highly respected by businesses and professionals across the country and internationally.  Each offers different benefits for you to consider before choosing the best platform for advancing your remote career through online courses.

Coursera

Coursera is an online course and certification company that has partnerships with hundreds of universities to provide quality education in subjects from hospitality management to virtual reality. One of the best perks of Coursera is the course forums. The forums provide opportunities for students to discuss each week’s topics and build a community of learners.

Some courses on the site can be taken individually, while others are bundled together in a certification program. Another perk of Coursera is their payment options. There are some courses provided free of charge, whereas others require payment. You can choose to take a course and master the content for free or pay for a certification. Additionally, Coursera offers a membership option that allows you to take as many courses as you’d like. Coursera is an excellent option if you want to explore a few topics before deciding on which one to dive into long-term.

Lynda.com

Lynda is one of the most well-known delivery options for online courses. The online education company, which was purchased by LinkedIn in 2015, focuses on creative skills, technology, and business courses.

Recognizable names like NBC, Adobe, and Patagonia have used lynda.com courses for professional development. Some courses also feature forums for students to interact and end with a certificate. One of the benefits of Lynda is that they offer courses for both beginners to experts in fields such as web design and software development. As a resource for tech professionals, they offer high-quality learning at reasonable prices. All Lynda courses come with a fee, however, they offer a monthly membership for unlimited learning.

Treehouse

Treehouse focuses completely on tech training, offering courses in a wide range of computer programming and web design sub-fields. One of the benefits of choosing a company with a specialty is that you have access to a community of learners who are all dedicated to your industry. Additionally, Treehouse caters to people who want to develop skills and put them to use in the workplace asap.

Treehouse offers resources for gaining tech jobs with the skills you develop. Their courses combine video tutorials with hands-on assignments and quizzes that help ensure you are making progress. The course options are available for tech newbies to experts. The company also offers a monthly fee for learning as courses tend to be much longer, helping you to not only learn a topic but master it.

Udacity

Udacity is a unique platform in that it is more of a marketplace than a course deliverer. They host courses from experts all over the world, allowing them to present their material for students to develop skills in a vast array of topics. Udacity offers courses in music and photography as well as teacher training and information technology. One of Udacity’s benefits is their immense range of online courses as well as the availability of affordable course options.

4. Make a Commitment

Once you find the perfect course, you have to be committed to carving out the time for your education regularly. It is easy to sign up for a course only to realize two weeks in that you haven’t completed any of the assignments. However, this will not give you the results you want. Making an investment in your professional future requires discipline. Consider making a schedule for your courses three times a week.

Take time not only to read and watch your online course material but also to engage with other course participants through a provided forum. If your course doesn’t offer this feature, you can find community through online blogs, Twitter chats, Facebook groups or other platforms.

To get even more out your online courses, use what you learn each week by starting your own blog, working on a portfolio or journaling about what you’ve learned.

Once you complete your course, celebrate your accomplishment! It takes weeks or months of hard work and perseverance to balance educational advancement with work responsibilities and your personal life. When you finally succeed you should take the time to acknowledge the investment you are making in your future. Completing an online course is a great way to boost your confidence to take on the next phase of your career. With the initiative and discipline you will build through online education, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.

Have you been thinking about taking online courses to further your remote careerShare your story when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/SvetaZi


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

travel programs

Work and Travel Programs for Adventurous Remote Professionals

If you are a remote professional who can be found working at the beach just as often as a café or shared workspace, consider work and travel programs that could give you the opportunity to work virtually while traveling to different corners of the world.

Work and Travel Programs for Adventurous Remote Professionals

travel programs

You may have heard of professionals who take early retirements to travel the world well before their senior years. If you’re envious of the freedom of traveling but want to continue working, there are options for you.

Work and travel programs facilitate employment while allowing professionals to travel as a portion of their remote work responsibilities. Each program has specific requirements including citizenship, fees, age, and skills.

Although the option to work from anywhere may sound appealing at first glance, there are a variety of factors to consider before you apply. Take a look at the specifics of a handful of popular travel programs to find out if this adventurous work style is a good fit for you.

Multi-City Travel Programs

The following travel programs give you an opportunity to travel to several places throughout your journey. Depending on the length of your stay, you may experience two, four or eight locations. These programs are perfect for people who want to relocate frequently and benefit from the inspiration that comes from a varied work experience.

Remote Year

The Program

Remote Year facilitates travel and networking opportunities for professionals currently working remotely or those who want to transition into a remote working arrangement.

The company brands itself as a way for virtual workers to make authentic connections abroad. They offer packages that include a four-month or one-year experiences including assistance from a team of professionals who help to make the process of working abroad a smooth transition.

Remote Year has a variety of pre-determined itineraries including residencies in Portugal, South Africa, Serbia, and Argentina. Remote workers travel and live as a cohort.

The total cost of the 12-month experience is $27,000. This includes access to a co-working space, transportation, living quarters that are shared by you and your cohort of travelers, and on-site support provided by Remote Year. The company also coordinates events in each city you travel to help each participant get the most out of their time abroad.

Requirements

You must be currently employed to apply for Remote Year. Additionally, although you do not need to be fluent in English, some English conversation skills are needed to do well in the program. You can apply from any country and do not need to be a U.S. citizen, however, you will need to obtain a passport and be able to travel outside of the U.S. or your country of origin.

Hacker Paradise

The Program

Hacker Paradise encourages professionals from a diverse array of countries to travel together while telecommuting. The organization has a particular focus on technology professionals such as computer programmers, developers, and designers.

The program provides group living and co-working spaces. Hacker Paradise does not arrange visas or flights, however, once you arrive you can benefit from the support you need to get work done while you experience new cultures in places like Berlin, Tokyo, Palermo, and Lima.

The typical size of your travel group will be 20-30 people who range from their early 20s to late 30s. Although this age range is the norm, Hacker Paradise also encourages older professionals to join the travel and work experience.

The total price of a work and travel package through Hacker Paradise depends on the length of your stay. One benefit of Hacker Paradise is that their packages are customizable based on your budget. Your trip can be as short as three months or as long as one year. The price per month ranges from $500 to around $2,000.

Requirements

Hacker Paradise requires that you book your own flights and be able to travel to the countries included in your itinerary. You do not need to speak the local language, although language classes may be available if you choose to learn.

The program has an application and interview process that will help you and the organization decide if their experience will work well for you.

Related: Partial Telecommuting 101: How to Work and See the World

We Roam

The Program

We Roam brands themselves as a work and travel program with an emphasis on building international professional connections. The organization offers itineraries to destinations such as Santiago, Prague, Mexico City, and Melbourne.

We Roam offers professional development opportunities, language classes, and at least one health and wellness opportunity on each of its trips. Additionally, the company has an employer partner program with the goal of to attracting businesses who want to expand their remote workforce.

We Roam participants may also live in separate rooms throughout the destination city yet share a co-working space. The program cost is $2,000 per month and includes flights to each destination excluding your first and last flight to and from home.

Requirements

To be a part of We Roam, you must be accepted through their application process which includes a general application and interview. Applicants are accepted from countries around the world and there is a one-month minimum for travel.

Applicants are required to pay a registration fee and are also responsible for maintaining their work while abroad. We Roam does allow couples to travel and offers discounted accommodations for couples pursuing work and travel adventures.

Singular-Destination Travel Programs

The programs outlined below are perfect for professionals who want to focus on working and traveling in one location and immerse themselves more fully in a new culture. The programs are usually more exclusive, accepting less than 20 participants at a time.

Project Getaway

The Program

A non-profit that offers a single destination journey to East Africa, Project Getaway is geared towards professionals who want an all-inclusive experience.

This program offers meals, a working space, activities and more. The program is open to entrepreneurs and can range between $2,800 and $4,400 per month. This rate will depend on your chosen level of luxury.

Requirements

Project Getaway does not require that you currently have a remote position. The program is geared toward entrepreneurs and is open to established business owners and new business professionals who want to network and brainstorm serious business ideas.

WiFly Nomads

The Program

WiFly Nomads offers short-term work and travel trips to single locations such as Chile, Thailand, Colombia, and Brazil.

The program offers events and accommodations that are fairly private, promising that participants will not share rooms and will only share housing with two or three other participants.

Additionally, the organization also offers travel and learn programs that allow you to take career-specific training to help advance your career while you travel, develop your skills, and network. WiFly offers destinations in Asia and Latin America for approximately $2,000 per month.

Requirements

You must be currently employed to apply for WiFly Nomads. Additionally, you must hold a passport for six months before applying and most trips require that you cover the costs associated with your visa. If your job allows, you can also join several consecutive trips.

International Co-Working Spaces

If you are looking to create your own travel plans as well as looking for a safe and reliable place to work and live, there are several international co-working spaces that can facilitate your remote working needs while you travel.

Related: 11 International Coffee Shops with Free Wi-Fi & Telecommuter Amenities

Roam

The Program

Roam provides living and working spaces for professionals while they are traveling internationally. Roam is perfect for remote workers who want to find other professionals to share ideas and network, all while exploring a new environment.

The program is less expensive than some traditional work and travel programs because it only provides the basics such as accommodations, reliable Wi-Fi, and office equipment.

All the events, transportation, and meals are left up to you. You can book your stay in London, Miami, Tokyo or Bali. Rates start at $500 per week.

Requirements

Roam requires that you stay at your destination for at least a week, however, the organization prefers longer stays. Additionally, you are responsible for coordinating all the details of your stay including travel to your destination, visa requirements, work arrangements, food, and transport while abroad.

Nomad House

The Program

Nomad House is another co-living/co-working space available in a variety of places such as India, Bali, Vietnam, and Spain.

Nomad House offers a very flexible trip length and participants can pay per night. The organization does not pay for transport or meals and participants must arrange for their own visa and passport documents.

Usually, the trips are cohort style and Nomad House prides themselves on the diversity of their travel programs. They are open to remote workers of all ages and experience levels.

Nomad House limits their trips to 20 people. The cost per night can range from $15 to $95.

Requirements

For consideration, you must arrange your own flights, be able to work and live in the destinations you choose and have a remote position.

Quick Tips to Find Success While Exploring Work and Travel Programs

travel programs

No matter what kind of work and travel arrangement you choose, these tips will help you make the best of your time working and traveling to new and places.

Communicate

When entering a new environment, jet lag, as well as the excitement and culture shock of your new living space, can be a bit overwhelming. It is important to communicate with your employer about your itinerary ahead of time.

Let your employer know you may need at least one day to settle into your new surroundings. This may involve using a vacation day to make sure you are fulfilling your work responsibilities.

Once you are settled, you should try to stick to a regular work schedule as much as possible. While adventure may want to take priority in your life, ensure you keep up with assignments, deadlines, and projects. This is the first step to exploring stress-free while working abroad.

Keep a Journal

Pictures are an amazing way to remember your journey, but writing is also a great way to process everything you learn.

Experiencing a new culture can have amazing benefits both professionally and personally. Keep a journal to jot down your feelings, thoughts, and the major adventures you seek.

This record will help you long into the future as you incorporate the lessons you learned while traveling into your knowledge as a citizen of the world. It could even inspire a blogging adventure, which you could monetize or use as the jumping off point for a new telecommuting adventure in travel writing.

Make Lasting Connections

Although you are working while you travel, don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with local professionals, experience tourist attractions, and learn about the culture around you.

You will gain valuable insights just by listening to and eating with new friends who can show you around and accompany you to local events. It may be a bit intimidating at first, but part of traveling abroad is taking safe and calculated risks to expand your horizons.

Don’t let the next work and travel adventure start without you!

Which of these work and travel programs caught your attention? Tell us about how you’d like to combine adventure and remote work in your life when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/seb_ra; 2. iStock.com/junce


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

move

How to Remain Productive During a Move When You Work from Home

British Solomon, a contributing writer and media specialist for North American Van Lines, outlines nine tips for telecommuters to stay caught up on work while in the midst of a move.

How to Remain Productive During a Move When You Work from Home

move

Working from home has a ton of benefits: flexible hours, no commute, and the ability to create your own space. It also helps tremendously with productivity, which is one of the reasons why so many companies are making the switch to utilizing remote workers.

However, if you’re in the middle of a move, telecommuting can also produce some gigantic headaches. Not only are you trying to stay productive while your home is in shambles, you also have to contend with the fact that everything you need to work is now in boxes. Your desk may be disassembled; your chair might be in storage, so what’s a remote worker to do now that their environment is in flux? Here are nine tips to remain productive during a move.

1. Pack from Least Important to Most Important

Depending on how long it will take you to move into your new place, you’ll likely encounter numerous items, such as Christmas decorations, seasonal clothing, or the softball bat you use every spring, that you simply won’t need right away.

Make sure you pack those items first and save packing your most vital equipment for right before or even the day of your move. If you work exclusively from a desktop, consider using a laptop to make your office more mobile.

2. Back Up Everything

One of the worst things that can happen during a move is vital information being lost or destroyed. All too often, a desktop tower can fall and shatter, leaving years of data all over your driveway. Before you move, ensure you back up everything you have on an auxiliary hard drive, and wrap it in bubble wrap to make sure it stays safe.

Also, consider backing up some of your more pertinent files onto a thumb drive, that way you can work whenever you have a free moment. Some local libraries, co-working centers, and other collaborative spaces may not allow you to download/upload material onto their public computers but, at the very least, you’ll have the ability to borrow a friend’s computer and hammer out some work during a slow period in the move.

Related: Telecommuting Productivity Hacks: 10 Insider Tips from Virtual Vocations Team Members

3. Label Everything

If you’re like most people, a Sharpie will do just fine for labeling, but if you’re the type of person who likes to know exactly where everything is, consider purchasing or borrowing a label maker so there’s no question as to what’s inside your boxes.

A Sharpie may become faded if left in extreme heat or cold, leaving you without a clue as to the contents. If you need to access something in a hurry, you could be looking at a frantic and counter-productive search.

4. Decide What to Keep and What to Throw Away

Take a moment to consider what your next home office will look like. Will it be bigger than your current one? Is it upstairs? Will your furniture not fit through the door?

Moving home offices is an excellent time to consider all the papers and materials you’ve acquired over the last several years. Purging unnecessary items will make you more efficient in the long run and help you work quicker by knowing exactly what you have and what you don’t have.

Related: Organization Hacks: 20 Tips for Remote Professionals

Schedule Working and Non-Working Days

One of the hardest things to do when you’re working from home in the middle of a move is to focus on work. If you know that the moving truck is coming in two days and you still have half the house to pack up, it can be stressful to not only have to get everything in boxes but also keep up with your work at the same time.

For that reason, it’s important to establish a schedule as far out as possible so that you know exactly when you’ll be working and when you can pack. Depending on your schedule, this can mean four days working, one-day packing, or maybe you can take off every Friday to pack and make up those hours throughout the week. Regardless, having a clear-cut schedule will help keep your mind focused on the task at hand.

Lastly, schedule your final move for a day that you are not working or take off a couple of days to completely set up your new office space.

Pack Smart

Always use the right tool for the right project. If your home office has a ton of books, which quickly add up in packing weight, make sure you pack them in a sturdy container like a milk crate or copy paper box.

Pack electronics in a garbage bag first to keep them safe from any water that could potentially get inside and then place a sweater or pillow on the bottom of the box to cushion the fall. Place the heavier objects on the bottom and the lighter objects on the top.

When you disassemble office furniture, place all the nuts and bolts inside of a plastic bag and tape them to the biggest part of the item. Another tip that could potentially save a lot of headache down the road: use similar color labels for wires and what they plug into. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time on trial and error once you arrive in your new place.

Consider a Temporary Setup

It may sound counterproductive, but one method used by a lot of remote employees when they’re moving is to completely disassemble and pack everything in the home office, minus the bare essentials (i.e. laptop, documents, etc).

Take apart the desk, disassemble the chair, move your computer tower into storage—get everything into a box and ready to go. Then, take a folding table and a folding chair and set up a temporary workspace for yourself.

Chances are, you won’t need much elbow room while you’re in a period of transition, and your setup allows you to maintain working until the moment before you walk out the door. If this isn’t an option, consider renting a temporary office from a building nearby to set up shop in for a short period of time. This will allow you to completely pack up your house and still have everything you need in one place.

Related: Co-working Cost Analysis: Is Renting Workspace Really Worth It?

Move in Stages

Depending on how far you have to move, plan your moving out so that you do it piece-by-piece instead of all at one time. Pack up one room one weekend and move it to your new place, then do the next room the next weekend, and so on until you are fully moved.

If you don’t have this option, try packing up your rooms in stages instead, starting with the area that receives the least foot traffic to the place that has the most. Waiting until the last minute to pack will not only make you feel overwhelmed but also negatively impact your work productivity. The last thing you want is to be under pressure by your landlord as well your boss.

Call in Backup

Do you have friends who owe you favors? Now is an excellent time to call them in! If your friends are tied up with their own work or projects, you could contract local movers to pack up your home so you can focus on work.

Many moving companies will not only move your boxes from place to place but also pack and unpack them before they depart and after they arrive as well. While the cost for this service can be prohibitive for many people, if your job demands your full attention this might be the only option available.

Did you move while working from home? What additional productivity tips would you give telecommuters preparing to move? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/sturti; 2. iStock.com/Tinatin1


About the Author

British Solomon is a contributing writer and media specialist for North American Van Lines. She regularly produces content for a variety of career and lifestyle blogs.


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

reduce work hours

17 Ways to Reduce Work Hours When Telecommuting

Why do telecommuters work longer hours than office-goers? Though working from home can boost productivity, it’s hard to balance a remote job with home life. Consider these time management tips to help you clock out earlier and reduce work hours when telecommuting.

17 Ways to Reduce Work Hours When Telecommuting

reduce work hours

Many people envision telecommuters with laptops on the beach, smiling in the sun, and sipping on Mai Tais while they work. In reality, most telecommuters work from home so that they can earn reliable income while managing other aspects of their lives, such as caring for elderly parents, raising children, or learning to live with a physical disability. Though the reality of remote work isn’t always glamorous, the perks usually outweigh the challenges.

However, not everyone’s convinced that working from home is the best route. Researchers from the University of Iowa and University of Texas found that telecommuters work about three more hours each week than office-goers. It seems there’s a disconnect between working from home and work-home balance. Telecommuters often feel like they need to prove themselves more, check and respond to email constantly, and be available all day so that bosses and managers don’t suspect that they’re slacking off.

If you’re an overworked telecommuter, it’s time to pump the brakes. Here are some tips to help you manage your time, keep your brain sharp, and streamline tasks so that you don’t work long hours.

1. Track Your Time

First and foremost, keep track of your time throughout the day. Determine how much time you spend checking email, attending meetings, shuffling papers, creating reports, browsing the internet, staring off into space, and other work and non-work-related tasks. When you know how you spend your time, you can identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and recurring tasks that can be automated.

There are lots of free and affordable time trackers out there, such as Toggle, Harvest, and TopTracker. Such tools help streamline time tracking efforts and create visual reports that make it easy to assess your daily routine.

2. Create a Work Schedule

Though many telecommuting jobs allow you to work whenever, “whenever” isn’t a day of the week. Create a work schedule by choosing specific days and times each week. You may even schedule particular tasks at the same time every day. For example, if you submit weekly reports every Friday, schedule time to prepare the reports every Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

Balance career, personal, and family time by scheduling your work hours around your favorite yoga classes and the kids’ soccer games, but make sure you dedicate time solely for work. Otherwise, you won’t experience the benefits of a flexible schedule.

3. Work During Peak Brain Hours

If you don’t have to work during your employer’s business hours, then clock in when your brain is the sharpest. For example, if you’re a morning person, start your workday with the most complicated or brain-intensive tasks. If you’re a night owl, save the big tasks for sunset. Working according to your natural biorhythms helps you optimize your time and produce better quality outcomes.

4. Take Breaks

Do you try to drudge through the day without stopping? Plowing away might hinder your progress. In fact, 78% of Staples Workplace Survey respondents say that breaks boost their productivity. Try taking regular breaks to re-energize and refresh your thinking. If you work eight hours per day, take 30 to 60 minutes for lunch and 10 to 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon. Include breaks in your regular work schedule. Treat breaks as important tasks or meetings so that you don’t skip them.

5. Set Deadlines

If your job allows you to work as much or as little as you want, you need to set your own quotas and deadlines. First, determine your weekly or monthly income goal. Then, calculate how much work you need to complete to reach your goal. Next, estimate how much time it will take to do the work. Finally, schedule that time into your calendar and set firm deadlines so that you don’t fall behind.

6. Prioritize Your Tasks

Do you really need to read five industry-related blog articles before responding to customer requests? Get more work done by prioritizing your tasks. Take a look at your time tracking reports and make a list of all your work tasks. Categorize each task according to deadline and criticality. For example, tasks that need to be completed sooner get higher priority, and tasks that are more critical to your job output take precedence. Leave more menial or unessential tasks for slow periods or off-peak brain times.

7. Work in Chunks or Sprints

Some tasks are best worked in chunks or sprints. For example, set a timer for 50 minutes, then take a ten-minute break. Do four cycles in the morning and four in the afternoon. The idea is to work at maximum intensity for a defined time, then take a short break to reset your brain. It’s possible that you’ll get more done in less time, which means you get to clock out earlier in the day. It’s also healthy to look away from your computer screen regularly to protect your vision.

8. Plan Your Week

Once you figure out a schedule that works best, take a few minutes every week to plan your work and personal life. Review your priorities, put everything in the calendar, and make sure you have enough time to work and relax with your family. Be firm with your plan, but leave some room for the unexpected. Life gets messy, so you’ll need to be adaptable.

9. Stay Hydrated

Coffee is delicious, but it dehydrates you and can cause serious brain crashes. Resist the urge to sip on java all day long and keep a jug of water at your desk instead. Water keeps your brain working and helps you feel energized. Also, avoid drinking sugary and other caffeinated beverages all day. Sodas and energy drinks might pick you up, but they let you down hard when your body finishes processing them.

10. Fuel Your Noggin

In addition to water, your brain needs nutrients to function properly. Complex carbs, omega-3 fats, and B vitamins are known for their brain-boosting powers. Instead of quick sugars that give you a jolt, go for sustained energy by eating nutrient-dense food. BBC Good Food recommends adding whole grains, oily fish, blueberries, eggs, and nuts to help your brain work as it should.

11. Get Enough Rest

Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep every night. This is often easier said than done. However, when you’re consistently tired, you’re more likely to drag your feet, reach for quick energy fixes, and choose shortcuts instead of doing your very best work.

12. Automate Tasks

Do you send the same emails over and over? Do you create the same invoices every month? Take advantage of automation tools to streamline your day. Use templates as much as possible, set up automatic bill pay, and install bookkeeping and proofreading software on your computer. Use the cloud to back up your files and store documents so that your work is accessible anywhere on any device.

13. Set Up an Efficient Workspace

Organize your workspace for success. Remove clutter from your desk, and create a logical filing system for hardcopy documents. Keep bookmarks on your browser and shortcuts on your desktop to access websites and programs quickly. If there’s information you need to keep handy while you work, create a binder or notebook with instructions and procedures that make sense to you.

14. Remove Distractions

Some people work best in total silence, while others need some commotion in the background. To minimize distractions, close the door, play white noise or soft music, shut the window, turn off your phone ringer, and silence all desktop notifications. Check email and messages as infrequently as possible. Remove as many distractions as possible during your peak work hours so that your attention isn’t easily diverted.

15. Itemize Your Inbox

Take advantage of folders, labels, and filters in your email inbox. Set automatic rules so that you’re notified about important emails, while unimportant emails are filtered into a folder to read later. Spend a few minutes every day to go through filtered emails and fish out anything that’s actually important. If your job is email intensive, then you may need to keep desktop notifications turned on. Otherwise, schedule email as a task in your work schedule and avoid checking your inbox constantly throughout the day.

reduce work hours

16. Master Meetings

How much time do you spend in phone or video meetings? Is it possible that some of the discussion items could be more efficiently communicated over a quick email or instant message?

Here are a few tips on how to make team meetings more efficient:

  1. Decide whether a meeting is necessary or if information can be shared over email, text, or chat.
  2. Send an email to the team and ask if they have anything to discuss.
  3. Create a meeting agenda and adhere to it firmly. Additional comments or questions can be addressed at the next meeting or in the minutes.
  4. Start the meeting on time.
  5. Assign someone to take meeting minutes. Keep a list of action items and due dates so that you can schedule tasks and assign team members accordingly.
  6. Conversations or questions that don’t affect the whole team should be addressed outside of the team meeting. Make a note in the minutes to ensure that contact was made and questions were answered.
  7. If a subsequent meeting is necessary, schedule the next meeting day and time as the last item of business.
  8. End the meeting on time.
  9. Post the meeting minutes or disperse to the team as soon as possible after the meeting.

Standing meetings are helpful for managing remote teams; just make sure they are useful and don’t eat away at everyone’s precious time.

17. Have Somewhere Else to Be

Put activities like working out, walking the dog, calling a friend, or cooking dinner on your daily calendar. If other activities besides work demand your time, you might work more efficiently during your scheduled hours.

It’s Time to Clock Out

Telecommuting is tough when you don’t manage your time and separate work from home. To help balance your remote career and personal life, schedule work hours, prioritize tasks, take good care of your brain, and continuously find ways to work more efficiently. Resist the urge to make yourself available all day. Set a definite end time and completely clock out from work so that you can take full advantage of the telecommuting lifestyle.

Do you have additional strategies to reduce work hours while telecommuting? Share your tips when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/BrianAJackson; 2. iStock.com/maselkoo99


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

winter telecommuting

10 Reasons Why Winter Telecommuting Is HOT, HOT, HOT!

When the weather outside is frightful, working from home is so delightful! Here are 10 ways winter telecommuting can heat up your productivity and work-life balance.

10 Reasons Why Winter Telecommuting is HOT, HOT, HOT!

winter telecommuting

Winter is the most wonderful time of the year for telecommuters. While the rest of the workforce sloshes around in the cold, remote workers nestle in their home offices without weather-related interruptions.

Here are 10 reasons why telecommuters are smitten with winter telecommuting.

1. You Can Have Snow Much Fun

When you work in a home office, you ding-dong-ditch the daily commute and can earn back 11 full days of your life each year, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

That’s 11 extra days to play in the snow! You can build forts, make snow angels, assemble snow people, and rally the neighbors for a snowball fight.

How much fun would it be to surprise the kids with an epic “snowdown” in the front yard after school? Just make sure you have a plenty of backup mittens and post-bout hot chocolate.

Tip: Not ready to rumble? Try a virtual snowball fight with your remote team members. There are virtual reality games, smartphone apps, and social media pages dedicated to some good old-fashioned winter fun without all the chapped lips and icicle mustaches.

2. You Shed the Fleece Police

Are your ugly fleece sweaters actually staples of your winter attire? Corporate fashion police don’t have jurisdiction in your home, so there’s no need to hide under the covers.

Go ahead and throw on that red wooly knit turtleneck with all the silver bells and whistles. Slip those tootsies into a pair of fuzzy bunny slippers. Keep your flannel robe on all day and wear ear muffs instead of headphones.

Winter telecommuting allows you to enjoy the freedom of wearing comfortable clothing while you hammer away at the keyboard.

Tip: Host a virtual ugly sweater party! Get everyone on a video conference and vote on the most hideous amazing festive sweater of the season.

Related: Telecommuting Benefits: 40 Reasons Why Remote Work Rocks!

3. You Can Jingle Bell Rock Out (or Not)

There are two types of people in this world: those who love holiday music and those who despise it. If you’re a holly jolly junkie, you can blast your favorite tunes on repeat all day long (Wham! jams included).

Why not whip up some eggnog and decorate your desk while you sing along? Sprinkle your workspace with as much joy and cheer as your heart desires.

Can’t stand holiday music? No problem. You can work at home in heavenly peace without the humbug of overly festive coworkers.

Tip: Put together a playlist for your team. Tell members to send you a YouTube link to their favorite jingles, and compile the links into one list. Be sure to play the compilation in the background at your ugly sweater party.

winter telecommuting

4. You Can Be a Super Sneaky Santa

Redeliveries and final attempts are for office dwellers.

Thanks to winter telecommuting, you can sign for packages delivered to your home and hide them before the kids return from school.

No more pink or yellow notices stuck to the front door. No more driving to parcel pickup locations and fighting traffic. Plus, you can wrap and stash gifts during your breaks without a trace of evidence for your tiny tots to find.

Tip: Organize a Secret Santa gift exchange for your remote office. Use Amazon or an industry-related website to create wish lists and ship items directly to your coworkers.

5. You Can Log Hours Near a Fireplace

Imagine this scene: You’re dressed in warm, cozy garb, sitting in an oversized chair in the living room. There’s a hot cup of cocoa on the end table, a computer on your lap, and a fluffy white cat at your feet. The fireplace is crackling, while friendly snow gently dances outside the bay window.

Think you can stomach sending emails, reviewing reports, and troubleshooting errors in such conditions?

Winter telecommuting allows you to work comfortably by the fireplace and keep your mug of hot cocoa sufficiently supplied with roasted marshmallows all day.

Tip: If you don’t have a fireplace, download an animated fireplace wallpaper on your computer, or stream a fireplace or winter scene straight to your screen. Netflix, YouTube, and The Roku Channel for Roku devices all feature numerous options. It might not warm you up, but it’ll help make your home feel cozy.

6. You Bypass the Daily Slip and Slide

Roads are extra dangerous during the winter season. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that “24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.”

Thousands of injuries and fatalities result from winter weather accidents. Such accidents make the holidays heartbreaking. Even full recoveries leave lasting effects, such as healthcare bills, vehicle repairs, and increased auto insurance premiums. Plus, adverse conditions and accidents slow and congest traffic, making it difficult for other commuters to get to and from work on time.

When you work from home, you drive less and decrease your risk of being involved in an accident. Not only do you reduce your health risks, but you also reduce the financial risks, like recovery time away from work, associated with collisions.

Tip: It’s tempting to order food delivery during storms, but it puts the drivers and everyone else on the road at risk. Stock up on nonperishables before Old Man Winter comes so that you can feed your family without increasing potential weather-related driving hazards.

7. You Get to See Sunlight

The winter days are short. Many nine-to-fivers leave for work before the sun rises and return home after the sun sets, which makes the season seem like one endless night.

Working from home allows you to catch some winter rays and enjoy the daytime hours with more freedom.

It doesn’t take a scientific study to prove that a little bit of sunshine increases overall happiness and boosts energy. So, open the curtains and let that gigantic cosmic furnace shine in your home so you can sled-dog your way through your workday.

Tip: Winterize your windows to prevent the cold from entering and heat from escaping. Otherwise, your heating bill will burn a hole through your pocket for the sake of some sunshine.

winter telecommuting

8. You Blow Away the Winter Blues

You know how grumpy you feel after driving 25 miles per hour on the highway, fighting for a good parking spot at headquarters, and tramping through dirty slush in your soon-to-be-scuffed business professional shoes? So grumpy that the only place you find solace is in a dimly lit bathroom stall.

Though working from home can get lonely, especially in the cold, quiet winter, you avoid a lot of the hustle and bustle by staying put. You also earn a back the extra time you’d otherwise lose to extended commutes, long lines, and other weather-related annoyances.

Tip: If solitude tends to slay your productivity, take the reins by joining online chat conversations and planning virtual lunch meetings to stay connected with remote team members. Keeping in touch helps you stay motivated and avoid total hibernation.

9. You Pop Fewer Buttons on Your Snowsuit

Cookies and cakes and pies—oh my! The holidays can drop a sugar bomb on your waistline, especially when you work in an office. Everybody brings in tarts and treats to share during lunch breaks, potlucks, and gift exchanges.

Though telecommuting doesn’t eliminate the need for self-control with regard to your food choices, there’s less temptation to indulge when platters of pastries aren’t lurking in the lunchroom.

Tip: Keep the cookies and candies away from your desk. If you live in a small space and don’t have room to create a separate office area, at least turn your back to the kitchen and stock the fridge with festive fruit and veggies like cranberries, figs, pumpkin, and yams.

Related: Food and Fitness Tips for a Sedentary Work Style

10. You Can Fly South Without Turbulence

If winter doesn’t snowsuit your fancy, take your work with you to warmer weather.

Most remote teams rely on cloud technologies to store documents, collaborate with team members and clients, track progress, hold meetings, and submit projects, so you’re not tied to your desk.

Plus, if your job doesn’t have any geographic restrictions, such as time zone requirements or regular business hours, then you can work whenever you want, wherever want. Imagine spending your yuletide at the beach without sacrificing all your vacation days or taking unpaid leave.

Tip: Check with your employer or clients for conflicts before taking off. Inform them of your travel dates, availability, and work plan during your trip. Make sure you back up your files to the cloud and pack all your needed equipment.

Winter Telecommuting Perks for Businesses

Snow days are expensive for businesses and governments. U.S. News reports that each snow day costs companies and state economies millions of dollars. However, organizations that offer telecommuting options can weather the storm.

Business owners and managers should incorporate telecommuting as part of their business continuity plan for adverse weather conditions. Unexpected costs due to road closures, accidents, call-offs, and snow-ins are avoided when employees can work safely at home.

To implement a telecommuting alternative, document all requirements, expectations, equipment needed, and communication procedures. Perform a test run to validate the plan and fill any gaps. If all goes well, consider extending a remote work option for trusted employees on a regular basis. It’ll likely save the company money and boost overall productivity and job satisfaction.

There’s No Workplace Like Home for the Holidays

If you’re new to telecommuting, check out our quick reference guide on how to get started and visit the Telecommute Toolkit for helpful resources when you sign up for a free or premium account.

Whether you’re a seasoned remote worker or just getting your boots wet, be sure to winterize your workspace so that you don’t suffer any delays in productivity.

For example, back up files to a local computer in case your internet connection freezes, and develop a simple communication plan for reporting to managers and clients. Also, to save some dough, consider using a space heater at your desk instead of cranking up the heat in your entire house.

Most of all, enjoy the comforts of winter telecommuting and have fun transforming your office into a winter workplace wonderland.

Which of these winter telecommuting tips is your favorite; do you have winter telecommuting tips of your own? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/PeopleImages; 2. iStock.com/inhauscreative; iStock.com/AlekZotoff


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

freelancer rates

Freelancer Rates: 7 Suggestions for Setting Your Fee

Independent contractors enjoy the freedom and flexibility of choosing how and when they work, but with that freedom comes the responsibility of setting their own rates to achieve professional success and personal peace of mind. If you’re an independent contractor, consider these seven quick tips for setting your freelancer rates. 

7 Tips for Setting Freelancer Rates

freelancer rates

Freelancing can be a liberating and rewarding way to work. It offers flexibility, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the ability to carve out your own specialty all while working remotely.

When you first begin as a freelancer, the excitement associated with gradually growing a base of clients and contracts can have you riding a natural productivity high. It’s easy to overcommit, overextend, and give all your energy to projects that don’t pay well.

These trials are all a part of the learning curve, however, when it comes to money, you don’t want to box yourself into a job that requires a tremendous amount of energy, only to find that the payoff is well below what is needed to sustain yourself.

The power to set your own freelancer rates for your work is within your grasp. With the knowledge, research, and skills to perform, you can confidently set fair freelancer rates that keep you and your clients happy.

Consider these seven quick tips to help you set your freelancer rates:

Related: Freelancing Mistakes: 20 Career Killers Common to New Telecommuters

1. Do Your Research

As a freelancer, it’s up to you to stay informed about market fluctuations both in your industry and beyond. The best tool you have to advocate for a reasonable wage is to understand what others are paying for similar services.

You don’t want to price yourself out of prime opportunities or accept below market pay for your work, because it becomes more difficult to raise your prices later. Start by identifying the unique services you provide.

Freelancer surveys can provide you with an idea of current rates across industries. Also, take a look at what employers are paying salaried workers to provide these same services. You can find a plethora of salary information on sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com. Once you have an idea of the in-house costs, consider additional expenses required as a freelance worker.

Browse the websites of industry contemporaries to review their previous projects, clients, and rates. This will help you gauge how you stack up against others charging similar freelancer rates.

If you find that you charge more or less than a competitor offering similar services, it may be time to evaluate your rates.

However, knowing what individual perks you bring to the table will aid you in deciding if you need to make some adjustments, or if you need to better market your own services.

Taxes

As a contracted 1099 worker, you are responsible for paying your own taxes. This means that your rates must take into account the 20% usually deducted per year for salaried employees. This percentage should be factored into your rate. It is vital that you understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to taxation, as well as much you need to make in order to have to file income taxes.

Home Office

Consider that you must foot the bill for your home office expenses such as internet, printing, software subscriptions, and office equipment. These expenses could be tax deductible, however, so keep excellent records and make a budget sheet to see if your monthly or yearly expenses outweigh your profits.

Marketing

To get clients, they have to be able to find you. Marketing is a necessity for all freelancers and requires a website and a strong social media presence—possibly including ad buys—that require monthly and yearly funds. As you plan your freelancer rates, be sure to factor these costs into your budget.

Related: Social Media Red Flags: 9 Mistakes Employers Can’t Ignore

Insurance

Everyone needs health insurance, and freelancers are no exception. As a nonemployee you don’t have access to an employer plan, so you must figure this vital expense into your wages. Particularly if your industry is high risk, is prone to burnout, or requires extensive physical or mental labor, you want to be sure you can afford healthcare to stay well enough to continue working and earning as a freelancer.

2. Join The Club

It’s a great idea to get involved in an online freelancer community in your field. There, you can ask questions and get a sense of what others are charging for similar projects.

LinkedIn is a great place to start the search for a professional freelancer group or forum. Start with the Virtual Vocations LinkedIn page for daily telecommuting tips and resources.

3. Remember Experience Matters

The level of professional experience you have within your field is one of the most important factors for determining your freelancer rates.

If you are just starting out, you must build a portfolio and recommendations for the quality of your work. This does not mean you should always work for free, but it does mean that you must be realistic about what you can earn based on your skill level.

For example, a freelance graphic designer with one year of experience will look to establish a portfolio with at least three to five substantial projects illustrating skill and originality. Getting here could mean accepting less per hour or per piece of work than an established designer.

In determining your freelancer rates, consider how long it will take you to complete the task. What is the level of difficulty? Does the job require you to do substantial research or editing? How many drafts are you willing to go back and forth on with the client? All these factors can help you establish a fair rate as a beginner.

As you gain more experience, after your first three to five years of work, you’ll need to revise your rates to match your level of expertise. More experienced freelancers in most fields prefer to charge per project instead of per hour, yet it will be up to you to determine what works best.

Factors that can help you decide the best options for your business include the following:

  • Time constraints established by either you or your client
  • Whether or not editing requests are a frequent part of your field
  • The amount of consulting or prep work needed before taking on a project
  • The length of your relationship with the client

4. Know that Time is Money

Much of the weight of the decision on whether to charge by the hour or by the project depends on how much time you have to dedicate to freelancing. If you have another job or a hard deadline set by the client, this will impact your rate. You can charge more for quick turnaround projects, as this will require you to devote more time and energy to a project over a shorter period of time.

You can also use time management software to track exactly how much time you spend on each project. This is more helpful if you decide to charge by the hour. You can simply extract the number of hours you worked on a project and create an invoice right away.

5. Weigh Consistency vs. Variety

Once you have a few loyal clients, it’s easy to start to feel comfortable. You want to keep your clients happy as they continue to bring you consistent projects. If you’ve been with a client for two or more years, your skill level has most likely grown.

Although it can a nerve-racking process, raising your freelancer rates with an existing client is a necessary and acceptable practice when your earning goals and expertise expand.

Be prepared to lose a client or two. Unfortunately, businesses also get comfortable with their freelancers and don’t always have the budget to expand freelancer rates, or don’t want to pay more for projects. To make your case for a rate increase, keep your portfolio and list of credentials and awards up-to-date.

Looking for more diverse projects will also push your boundaries and keep you committed to getting stronger in your craft. It’s also an amazing way to help your portfolio shine.

Some freelancers want to maintain long-term relationships with clients, where others prefer to only accept short-term projects without lengthy commitments. Either style is acceptable as long as you can feel comfortable adjusting your rates when the time is right.

6. Consider Your Certifications

Possessing professional certifications unique to your industry and desirable by clients can help you boost your freelancer rates. You will have to be able to articulate how this particular training or certification benefits your client, but if do so, particularly if it is one that is rare or difficult to obtain, you can figure this professional achievement into your rate.

When crafting your marketing materials, ensure any professional certifications or licenses you’ve obtained are prominently mentioned. This will help you more easily attract clients who find value in and will reward your education and experience.

Related: Digital Nomad vs. Freelancer: 8 Differences in These Remote Work Styles

7. Upgrade Your Brand

Now that you’ve established your freelancer rates, you may wonder how to increase your value and earn more. As your experience grows so will your confidence in boosting your wages.

To start working towards a higher rate of pay today, invest in yourself. As a freelancer, you are essentially your own boss. As with any business, the more you put in, the more you get out. Online training, seminars, and continuing education will help you broaden your professional scope.

Expand Your Horizons

Explore a variety of project types to find your strengths. You can use your unique talents to create a brand that stands above the crowd. There is value in both variety and specificity. This means that you should target three or four areas where you really shine within your vertical. Enhance your knowledge in these particular areas and market yourself accordingly.

Website

Upgrade your website to a self-hosted domain to have greater control over your brand. Your website address should reflect a professional name—preferably your own. If you have a common name, think of adding a keyword that will appeal to your audience such as “Jane Doe Photography” or “John Doe Web Design.”

Increase your SEO by utilizing effective tags. Engaging images and a polished About Me page will help potential clients find you. Additionally, ensure your contact information is easily accessible on your website.

Client Feedback

Recommendations are a great way to get more clients. Add a few quotes from happy clients to your website to give it an extra boost of credibility. LinkedIn also allows recommendations and endorsements. Utilize your social media accounts to grow your business and increase earnings.

Moving Ahead

Freelancing is a vivid and dynamic way to make a living as a remote professional. Whether you are a full-time independent contractor or dabbling in a freelance job to earn extra income, the more time and effort you put forth, the greater the reward. Many people make a comfortable living freelancing and with perseverance so can you!

Do you have additional advice for setting freelancer rates? Tell us your advice when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/eternalcreative; 2. iStock.com/Geber86


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

telecommuting tech trends

Telecommuting Tech Trends: 5 Advancements You Can Expect in 2018

We are living in an era of extraordinary expansion in technology, particularly tech that increases our access to information and our ability to communicate. Thanks to upcoming telecommuting tech trends, distance, time zone, and language barriers may soon be eliminated as obstacles to collaboration.

5 Telecommuting Tech Trends You Can Expect in 2018

telecommuting tech trends

With some major companies like IBM stepping back from full-time remote work arrangements, there is an impression that the traditional working environment will outlive the virtual work movement. However, looking at long-term telecommuting tech trends, it is clear that remote work is thriving.

There will always be those who are slow to adopt new technologies, claiming they are ineffective mainly due to a lack of understanding of how to implement these advances strategically.

When we look closely at the ways in which technology has already revolutionized the structure of fundamental industries, it is apparent we are are already living in a professional culture that isn’t largely organized based on physical location.

Automation of essential processes, such as driving via self-driving cars and faster shopping options through drone delivery, will give us more time to engage with the most crucial of human-centered problems. We will have more time to focus on the big picture projects that drive our work and this is a great thing!

Embracing the coming changes to the personal and work-related technology of today places telecommuters and remote enabled companies ahead of the curve, and in the perfect position to lead the way for many others who eventually hop on board when they must.

Looking to the new year ahead, there are some exciting telecommuting tech trends that could improve our lives as telecommuters in very important ways. Below, we outline five telecommuting tech trends for 2018, so you can dig deeper into each and find ways to begin implementing them within your own virtual environment.

1. 5G WiFi

In the last 20 years we have watched computing technologies blossom from dial-up to wireless, and now innovators are moving the goal line again. New wireless technology disrupts the current monopoly internet providers have on internet service currently marketed to consumers. 5G is twice as fast as the current standard 2.4G speed. Instead of being able to process 600 megabits per second (Mbps), 5G can handle up to 1300 Mbps for laptops. Additionally, an insanely fast download speed of 10 gigabits per second is available for smartphones.

For remote workers, this means we can easily go from stationary to mobile with a similar online experience. 5G will likely spur more websites to increase mobile user experiences, making most websites accessible from your pocket device. As Ira Broady of Computer World suggests, this is one of the impressive new technologies that will help remote work flourish in the coming years.

If you’re wondering how you can test out this speedy internet advancement, you are in luck. 5G is already available in limited use, so check with your internet or phone service provider to see if it is available in your area. We will begin to see more about more 5G use during 2018 and, eventually, it will become the new standard.

2. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

One of the most prominent concerns employers have about remote work is its impact on collaboration between team members and across various departments. However, as Alexandra Samuel points out in her article, “Collaborating Online is Sometimes Better than Face-to-Face,” digital collaboration tools are rapidly expanding. This growth allows for new and more dynamic interactions across time and space.

Virtual Reality (VR) is 360-degree technology that allows for immersive experiences using a headset, or even your internet browser. VR can be utilized to transform the traditional webinar or web conference by providing the perception that everyone is in the same room. You can create a virtual meeting space where avatars are used, or where everyone can view a presentation, and can view everyone else in the room as well.

VR is a truly remarkable advancement that is already gathering steam in many telecommuting industries such as marketing, healthcare, and project management.

Adjacent to VR is Augmented Reality (AR), which allows you to layer holographic objects on top of real objects and creates interaction between physical and virtual spaces. For example, if you are in a virtual meeting, you can project a holographic model of a building using an AR device, and change the model, adding a new floor to the building everyone can see. Whole teams can build together using holographic projections they can manipulate in real-time.

The combination of AR and VR will transform how remote teams collaborate, and this isn’t a futuristic prediction; it is happening now. 

A company called Mimesys uses VR and AR to create holographic meeting spaces. In these meeting spaces, teams enter a virtual meeting with the ability to share and create together using holographic charts, objects, images and more. Imagine being able to see a 3D model of your new product in virtual space and having the ability to spot a key design flaw from 1,000 miles away. Telecommuting tech trends like this one will save distributed teams and money by utilizing real-time collaborative brainstorming.

Related: How Augmented and Virtual Reality Are Shaping the Remote Landscape

3. Internet of Things

Internet of things (IoT) connects the devices you use daily to the internet in a way that seamlessly integrates and centralizes data to be used whenever and wherever it is needed. Virtual Assistants can tap into the in-office copy machine to check for low ink levels, then reorder supplies from their home offices without having to call or involve anyone else.

As everyday machinery becomes increasingly integrated into the wireless world, telecommuting tech trends will improve not only the way we collaborate, but also the kinds of work we can do remotely.

4. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still in its infancy, however, it is already being used in the form of algorithms that help us automate analytics for faster and more accurate outcomes. AI will soon be a staple in many businesses as machine learning is utilized.

Many people take a nihilistic view of AI, worrying that the technology may displace thousands, if not millions, of workers in fields like sales and manufacturing, but it is much more apt to describe AI as a tool that will help us rid ourselves of the minutia associated with low skill task and increase our attention on human-based projects. For instance, our future auto industry will still need some mechanics with expertise in automotive technology to consult with clients and maintain equipment. There will always be a need for a human component in every industry, what will change the most as AI advances is what that human component entails.

For remote work, AI has many possibilities to improve the pace and efficiency of work, such as computer-based personal assistants that organize our computer files without us having to sort or even create folders.

Intelligence image recognition software can provide greater security for our computers and data by allowing multiple people to access to files simply by recognizing their face on the screen. AI can crunch numbers faster than any human, leaving us to provide nuanced analysis of the data we find and apply it to more complex social and economic issues.

5. Cryptocurrency

Think bitcoin: digital cash with an entirely different hierarchy that can be used to purchase things online. It has no physical form, exists in a decentralized network, and cannot be exchanged for other physical currency like cash or gold. However, it is a completely different way to think about transactions.

Cryptocurrency operates through blockchain; a data system that organizes bits of data distributed throughout the internet which stacks on top of each other creating a chain of information. It creates a way to securely complete transactions as the exchange must be verified and is documented through the blockchain system, which acts as a cloud-based permanent record.

In the remote space, teams could allow for more flexibility and access to funds through cryptocurrency, decentralizing travel expense procedures, supply purchases and more.

While the possibilities seemingly endless for crytocurrency’s relevancy within the telecommuting landscape, there is still not enough research on how cryptocurrency could impact our current economy. We will need more data and more real-world trials of its use in business to know for sure how this technology will impact virtual work.

Leap Toward Innovation in 2018

Regardless of your current level of engagement with telecommuting tech trends, one thing is clear: we all must continue to learn and grow our understanding of technology to remain relevant in our fields. We have reached the point of no return in terms of the impact of technology on our daily lives. Learning to work with these advancements is a much better use our time than attempting to reduce their effects.

As a remote worker, you are ahead of the game. You are you are already on-trend in business simply by embracing a flexible work structure. In fact, you will likely be one of the first to know when an exciting new technology emerges that you can use in your field.

Challenge yourself to dive into the deep end of innovation and explore these telecommuting tech trends. Whether it is a new cloud-based system or a virtual collaboration tool, use technology to inspire your curiosity and creativity. You never know what kinds of treasures you can discover as you look to the future of tech.

Which of these telecommuting tech trends are you most excited to follow? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

gender chore gap

Gender Chore Gap and Telecommuting: Does Working Remotely Close It?

Do you fear that telecommuting will put more pressure on you at home or hinder your opportunities for career advancement? Don’t let societal norms stifle your dreams. Consider ways telecommuting can foster greater work-life balance and help close the gender chore gap in your home.

Telecommuting and the Gender Chore Gap

gender chore gap

Telecommuters face the same social pressures and work-life balance challenges that all workers do. Some telecommuters may experience increased responsibility for household chores and childcare since they work from home. They may also feel isolated and abandoned by equally ambitious in-office coworkers.

Whether feelings of inequality are the result of self-imposed pressure to be a superhero at home and work, or whether these telecommuters are subjects of a worldwide gender chore gap, is debatable. The bottom line is:

Telecommuting can inadvertently create a work-life imbalance when household members don’t understand the purpose and nature of working from home.

What Is the Gender Chore Gap?

The gender chore gap refers to the disparity between the time that women and men spend doing household tasks and taking care of children. Women around the world are traditionally responsible for the household, while men go to work and earn income for the family. Though more women are educated and working than ever, some women are still expected to prioritize housework above their careers.

The gender chore gap is best friends with the gender pay gap, or opportunity gap, in which women tend to make less money and hold fewer high-level management positions than men. The consensus is that women who attempt to manage both a successful career and thriving home are essentially chasing two rabbits.

Does the Gender Chore Gap Really Exist?

It’s tempting to think that the gender chore gap is outdated and no longer prevalent in American society. However, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that women still perform more unpaid work (i.e., chores and childcare) than men.

Though family dynamics throughout the 21st century have become more diverse, including legalized same-sex marriage and more men becoming stay-at-home dads, gender biases haven’t magically disappeared. A study conducted by the American Sociological Association also shows evidence of traditional gender bias in same-sex couples. However, the Families and Network Institute found that same-sex couples tend to share responsibilities more than heterosexual couples do.

So, does the gender chore gap really exist?

Generally, across the globe, yes. Household dynamics keep changing, though, and chore gaps aren’t just between women and men.

The more important question is: Does a gender chore gap exist in your home, and can working remotely close it?

Does Telecommuting Close the Gender Chore Gap?

One of the most common fallacies of telecommuting is that you have unlimited free time while holding down a full-time job. Telecommuting definitely provides more time flexibility and work productivity, but it doesn’t mean you can send emails, attend phone meetings, make the kids dinner, walk the dog, and mop the floors all at the same time.

Many non-telecommuters expect you to have supernatural multitasking abilities and make household items dance themselves clean like Mary Poppins could. Though you can throw a load of laundry between meetings or wash dishes during your lunch break, you still need to put in your hours for the day.

Sometimes, spouses and partners who work away from home assume that more time at home means more time to take care of the home. Such expectations can increase the chore gap for telecommuters and pile more on your plate.

If you’re expected to work two full-time jobs—a telecommuting job and homemaker job—you might become discouraged and overwhelmed after a while. You might feel as though you need to choose one over the other, and then you might feel guilty about your choice, especially if you choose your career. If that’s the case, it’s time to sit down with your spouse or partner to discuss the discrepancies between household expectations and your career ambitions.

Does Telecommuting Close the Opportunity Gap, Too?

A study by Catalyst shows that women who work under flexible arrangements have higher career aspirations than women who work for companies without alternative work options. It seems that flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, allow women to balance their careers with their home life more effectively. However, the more women telecommute, the less they are present in the office.

As a telecommuter, you may fear that your lack of physical presence will leave you unnoticed and slow your career advancements. You may hold onto the notion that a physical presence automatically signals to management that you are doing your job and getting stuff done. Physical presence also affords opportunities to hold casual chats, get to know leaders, and find small ways to go above and beyond. In other words, you put in your “face time” and get noticed by people who can promote you.

However, face time doesn’t guarantee a boost in reputation, and managers of remote teams don’t rely on face time to judge the work product of their staff. At the end of the day, if you meet or exceed expectations and are pleasant to work with, your employer will notice that you’re an asset to the company, which can lead to promotion.

Therefore, the breadth of your opportunity gap is up to you.

If you dream of working part-time while focusing primarily on your family, there are plenty of telecommuting jobs that can sustain your standard of living.

When you’re ready to earn more money and take on more responsibility, you can apply for new telecommuting jobs or talk to your employer about potential advancements. It all depends on your personal and professional goals and what you’re willing to do to make it happen.

Related: SAHM to WAHM: 30 Transformative Tips for Working Women

It’s Time to Have the Talk

The best way to close the chore and opportunity gaps at home is to discuss your goals and needs with your spouse or partner. Both of you need to speak openly and honestly about what is most important to you and what each person can do to contribute. Though you may agree that family always come first, you still need income to support your family. At least one of you needs to work, but at least one of you needs to care for your kids and keep up with the house.

How do you create balance?

Consider how businesses operate. Companies designate specific roles with defined responsibilities; then they hire individuals to fill the roles. Think about all the roles and associated responsibilities required to keep your household running. Are there enough people in your family to fill all the roles? If not, do what successful companies do: Delegate responsibilities among the current team or hire extra help.

Telecommuters often fill multiple roles (e.g., income provider and homemaker), which can lead to a significant gender chore gap. Just as one person can fill multiple roles, each role can be shared among multiple people. Consider ways you can share some of the household roles and responsibilities.

If there’s still too much to do, outsource some tasks. For example, can you hire regular lawn care service, cleaning professionals, or in-home babysitters. You can even hire a part-time assistant to perform non-income producing tasks, such as filing, mailing letters, and scheduling meetings.

How do you create boundaries?

Telecommuters often face interruptions that decrease productivity, which defeats a major benefit of working from home. Create structure by designating a work space for yourself, setting business hours, and establishing rules for interruptions (e.g., no interruptions during certain times except for emergencies). You can still make time for your kids and multitask throughout the day if you want. Make a plan and communicate the plan to your family so that everyone knows what to expect.

Related: Telecommuting Productivity Hacks: 10 Insider Tips from Virtual Vocations Team Members

gender chore gap

Tips for Creating Chore Equality at Home

Here’s a strategy for creating more chore equality at home to help close the gender chore gap:

  1. Make a list of all the household tasks. For example, cleaning dishes, laundry, raking leaves, packing lunches, making dinner, and taking out the trash.
  2. Decide how often each task needs to be done. Dishes need to be done daily when they are dirty. Laundry might be done weekly. Dinner might be made daily, but you could also bulk cook once per week to save time.
  3. Rank each task according to priority. Determine which tasks are essential and which can wait. Anything that affects school, work, meals, and health are probably essential. However, is organizing the bookshelf alphabetically an essential task? Probably not.
  4. Decide when each task should be done. Meal prep is done on Sundays, dinner is started around 5 p.m. every day, lunches are packed by 7 a.m., laundry is done Saturday morning, and so on.
  5. Delegate tasks among household members. First, everyone should voice which tasks they are willing to do, which they refuse to do, and which they will tolerate if no one else claims them. For example, if one person will do laundry, but refuses to clean bathrooms and will tolerate raking leaves if no one else does, hopefully, another person will at least tolerate cleaning bathrooms and raking leaves. To make this work, everyone needs to speak honestly and be accommodating.
  6. Schedule tasks on the calendar. Mark chores on a calendar and put the calendar in a spot where everyone sees it regularly. Avoid taking on other household members’ tasks to keep the responsibilities spread out. Adhere to a general schedule as much as possible, and you’ll find that everything in the house gets done and you have more time for work and fun.
  7. Adjust the schedule. Revisit the chore plan and make sure everyone is still on board. If the schedule isn’t working or if one person is unhappy with the arrangements, make adjustments or start all over.

Tips for Closing the Opportunity Gap While Telecommuting

Here are some ways you can make your presence known and position yourself for success while telecommuting:

  1. Keep in touch. Schedule regular phone calls with your manager or team. If possible, hold video conferences so that everyone can see you happy and smiling. The more connected you are, the more likely you’ll be remembered when promotions come around.
  2. Be positive. Bring some positive energy to emails, group chats, and phone calls. Congratulate coworkers on their successes, say thank you, and speak optimistically about your job. Positive vibes compound and people will notice your upbeat attitude.
  3. Do amazing work. Knock your job out of the park. Meet your deadlines, submit your best work, ask questions when you don’t understand, be proactive, make suggestions, and serve as a leader. Make yourself indispensable to the team.
  4. Know what you want. Your career interests may change over time, but it helps to have a goal as a launching point. Choose a realistic goal (e.g., a job title or salary), and create a simple plan of action to get there. Consider sharing your goal and plan with a trusted manager or mentor.
  5. Physically separate your workspace. Set up a separate office space and establish clear work hours. Make sure everyone in your house knows when you’re working and when you need quiet time. Take breaks like in-office people do, but establish enough structure and discipline to be productive.

Final Thoughts

Closing the gender chore gap starts in your home. Foster family discussions about the nature of telecommuting and how it can create greater work-life balance for your household. Share your career goals with your family, and put in the effort needed to make your virtual presence known. Get everyone on board and find ways to share household responsibilities. Give yourself permission to take a leadership role in your career and life.

For help launching your telecommute journey, register for a free Virtual Vocations account today and unlock our “Getting Started with Telecommuting” e-course. If you’re ready for complete access to the Virtual Vocations site and services, now is a great time to subscribe. Take advantage of our Cyber Monday Sale and get 20% off any Virtual Vocations subscription. Visit our Services page to learn more.

What has been your experience with the gender chore gap? Has telecommuting helped close the gap and facilitate better work-life balance for you and your partner? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 


VVlogoJoining Virtual Vocations grants you access to our hand-picked telecommuting jobs database. Our family-owned company is committed to helping you find quality job leads. We strive to help make your work-at-home job search faster, easier and safer by bringing you scam-free jobs that offer some form of telecommuting or virtual work.

Learn how our service works, browse job leads by location and career category, or search hundreds of hand-screened telecommuting jobs to find legitimate work-at-home job leads that match your skills and background.

Register for free or contact us for more information on our service guarantee. We look forward to hearing from you!

staying connected

17 Tips for Staying Connected While Working from Home

As a remote worker, staying connected isn’t all about the reliability of your WiFi. Sometimes, staying connected is about nurturing healthy relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and yourself.

17 Tips for Staying Connected While Working from Home

Telecommuting comes with a lot of bells and whistles, but it can also feel lonely at times. When the honeymoon phase ends and the reality of working from home kicks in, it’s up to you to stay in touch with the outside world. Consider these 17 tips for maintaining personal and professional connections as a remote worker.

1. Get on Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are quick ways to catch up on people’s lives. Spend a few minutes browsing your news feeds and comment on a few photos and posts. Simple interactions let people know you exist and that you want to keep in touch.

Stay connected with your professional network by hopping on LinkedIn occasionally. Search profiles for new contacts in your industry and share articles related to your job and company. Consider writing and publishing articles of your own to display your knowledge and expertise. Strike up conversations through direct messages to maintain relationships with fellow telecommuters.

Use caution, however. It’s easy to get sucked into social media and waste time. Set time limits for yourself, such as ten minutes per day or an hour on weekends. Also, steer clear of negativity and unfollow people who consistently post negative messages. Instead, choose to follow and connect with people who post positive messages. Happy news can boost your energy and ward off loneliness.

In fact, James Fowler of the University of California San Diego believes that social media is a vehicle for happiness. His research group measured the emotional content of Facebook posts in 100 U.S. cities for three years. The results suggest that online social media platforms like Facebook can cause “emotional contagion online” and help spread positive messages around the world, ultimately boosting global happiness.

2. Use Online Collaboration Tools

Online tools like Slack, Basecamp, and Google Hangouts create a sense of community among remote teams. You can chat with coworkers just like you would in an office, contribute to group conversations periodically throughout the day, and private message colleagues with birthday wishes, condolences, and congratulations.

Depending on your team’s culture, throw in some friendly emojis and memes to lighten the mood. Set aside a thread for “shop talk” and fun, such as weekly jokes, trivia questions, and photos.

3. Hold Regular Meetings

Harvard Business Review found that one of the keys to successful remote team management is holding regular meetings or one-on-one conversations. If you’re a manager, consider holding weekly or monthly meetings to check in on your team. If you’re a team member, ask your manager to schedule time to chat. The more you communicate with colleagues, the more connected to the team you will feel.

4. Create a Daily “Commute”

Telecommuting returns the time you’d otherwise waste driving to and from work, likely during stop-and-go rush hour traffic. If you previously made personal calls during your daily drive, consider adding a “commute” to your work-at-home days. However, instead of sitting in a car, you can make coffee, throw in a load of laundry, and put the dishes away. Turn your previous commute chats into chore chats so that you’re staying connected while knocking of items on your to-do list.

5. Schedule Personal Phone Conversations

Life is busy. It’s normal to get caught up in career and responsibilities and neglect relationships with close friends and family. However, the more you neglect your inner circle, you more disconnected you feel in the long run. It may sound strange to schedule personal calls like they’re business meetings, but it helps to dedicate time solely to your most important relationships, especially if you live in different time zones.

6. Set Calendar Reminders

Load up your calendar with birthdays, anniversaries, and other important events, and set reminder notifications so that you send emails and greeting cards on time. Though social media posts and text messages are nice, handwritten notes make a longer-lasting impact for special occasions.

7. Find a Telecommuting Buddy

Author Dan Buettner tells Business Insider that work best friends improve our productivity and happiness. If you work on a remote team, find a couple people to chat with regularly. Regardless if the chats result in a deep, meaningful friendship, it’s nice to keep open communication with colleagues.

If you have a friend or family member who telecommutes, consider meeting up for a work date. You can hold each other accountable and work through some of your telecommuting challenges together.

8. Make Lunch Plans

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house in the middle of the day. Make a lunch date with a friend, another remote worker, or neighbor. Staying connected could mean something as simple as getting some fresh air, trying a new restaurant, or exploring your neighborhood.

There’s no need to fight the lunch rush, however. Meet up an hour before or after the busy time so that you don’t have to deal with long lines and traffic. Better yet, schedule a virtual lunch with a fellow telecommuter. Use an application like Skype to video conference while munching. It’s a great way to commiserate with someone who experiences similar work-life challenges.

9. Work at a Coffee Shop

Hit up a local coffee shop whenever you feel cooped up and stagnant. Sometimes, a quick conversation with a barista and room full of strangers is all you need to feel like you’re a part of society. Make it your mission to visit every coffee shop within a ten-mile radius. When you find your favorite location, chat with the baristas and they’ll get to know your preferences. Over time, you may receive some perks for being a frequent customer. Plus, you might recognize other regulars after a while and strike up a conversation.

10. Rent Coworking Space

When the coffee shop is too busy or distracting, consider renting a coworking space. Most spaces rent desks for the day, week, or month and include WiFi, printing services, and meeting rooms. Plus, they are great places to meet small business owners, web developers, designers, online marketers, writers, and other creative and business professionals. Some coworking spaces even host events, classes, and social gatherings and offer free or discounted tickets to members.

11. Attend Professional Conferences and Events

Just about every industry has a professional organization that hosts an annual conference. Check out the local chapter and sign up for a networking event. If feasible, attend their national or international conference to learn about the latest best practices, upcoming technology, industry projections, and occupational training.

Go into each event with the intention to learn, share, and connect with one or two individuals. Send follow-up emails to the people you meet and keep in touch through LinkedIn.

12. Join a Local Meetup Group

Meetups are fun ways to find people who share your personal and professional interests. Almost every city has meetup groups for hobbies and lifestyle activities such as running, biking, yoga, knitting, and wine tasting. There are also professional groups focused on knowledge sharing, career development, and discussing industry best practices.

Some groups are targeted to small business owners, freelancers, writers, coders, and marketers. If you don’t find a group that suits your needs, consider starting your own telecommuter group. Schedule low-key events for lunch, industry discussion, and coworking. Finding other remote workers in your city can help you feel like you’re staying connected to your local community.

13. Dedicate Time for Family

Working from home isn’t the same as spending quality time with your family. Though you are physically present more often, it’s important to devote time exclusively to your loved ones. Consider the following when deciding on the best strategy for staying connected to your family:

  • Plan weekly family nights where you completely shut down your remote office, turn off your computer, and silence all notifications.
  • Observe vacation days and holidays, and train yourself to clock out every day.
  • Establish clear boundaries to help maintain the work-life balance that telecommuting affords.

stay connected

14. Get to Know Your Neighbors

If you spend most of your time at home, you might as well get to know the people in your neighborhood. Start with a simple “hello” while getting your mail, bringing the trash cans in, walking the dog, or weeding the garden. Have a quick conversation with each encounter and look for common ground. Once you establish a sense of camaraderie, you’ll enjoy seeing familiar faces in your community, which can help make life feel homier and more secure.

15. Read the News

Spend a few minutes each day reading the headlines in your local newspaper, and check out national and international news sources. Learning about what’s going on in the world makes you feel like you’re a part of it and less isolated in your private telecommuting universe.

16. Spend Time in Nature

Stroll through the woods during your lunch break, work offline at a neighborhood park, or sit by the water and daydream after you clock out. Get away from the office and sit on the grass, stare at the clouds, and watch the leaves fall. It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do to perk up your mood and make you feel energized. Even just a few minutes can center you and help you feel connected to everything else in the world.

17. Make Room for You

Devote time every day to take care of yourself. Exercise, meditate, journal, cook – whatever helps revive you. Give yourself a space on your priority list so that you stay in touch with who you are, where you are going, and what is truly important. Treat yourself to something nice, like a new pair of shoes, massage, or bottle of wine. Reward yourself for your hard work so that you stay connected to your inner self and know you are a priority in your life.

Final Thoughts: Keep in Touch

As many wise leaders have said, with freedom comes great responsibility. To truly enjoy the freedoms that telecommuting provides, create a flexible work structure and put in the extra effort toward staying connected to the world around you.

Initiate conversations, schedule follow-ups, set reminder notifications, and utilize online applications. Find other telecommuters who can relate to your situation, and take your office to a coffee shop occasionally. Most of all, keep your family and closest friends in the forefront of your mind and set aside time to take good care of yourself.

What is your advice for staying connected as a remote worker? Share your answer when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!


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