Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 10, 2020

Working from home – strategies for success

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt business, telecommuting or working at home is becoming the norm for millions of people across the country. Gallup survey data shows the percentage of U.S. employees working from home jumped from 33% in mid-March to 61% in late-March.

Photo | Courtesy of Clark University
Laura M. Graves, Ph.D.

Employees and employers are learning telecommuting can be tricky. Here are several suggestions to maximize your effectiveness and well-being.

1. Set priorities and create structure

Identify your most important and/or time-sensitive tasks. Focus on getting these done. Be realistic about what you can accomplish; it will be less than you think you can get done.

Stay in touch with your manager and coworkers because priorities may shift. Setting a work schedule will enhance productivity. When setting your schedule, consider when you need to be available to meet both work and family obligations.

2. Use technology

Devote time to learning to use virtual tools (e.g., Zoom). There will be a learning curve, and frustration is normal. Reach out to colleagues who are already using the technology. Take advantage of the resources your organization offers, as well as the wealth of resources on the web.

Match the technology to the task. If you want to influence someone or resolve a sensitive issue, use phone or video. If you are simply conveying information, you can use email or post to an internal team or organizational platform.

3. Maintain connections

Be strategic in maintaining social connections. Telecommuting robs us of the social connection and sense of belonging we need. Stay connected with colleagues through synchronous (real-time) video and phone chats, which are best for maintaining relationships. Those chats, whether one-on-one or in groups, should not only include on work discussions but also informal conversations. Informal conversations allow us to show our support and concern for others. Initiate virtual water cooler chats or coffee hours with individuals or an entire team. 

4. Balance work and nonwork

Set aside personal and family time. Technology and home offices make it all too easy to work long hours. Initiate a conversation with your manager and coworkers about work hours and availability. Can the group set reasonable norms about work hours?

Take time to recover from the workday. Research on job stress has shown repeatedly how important this is. Exercise is a proven way of recovering from work. Mindfulness and meditation practices are helpful. Another good strategy: engage in activities that are important, enjoyable, or interesting to you. Don’t mindlessly stream online content if this isn’t what is most enjoyable to you.

Negotiate with family members about household responsibilities. Have a family conversation to divide up chores, such as grocery shopping, childcare, supervising schoolwork, and house cleaning, as equitably as possible. Think about how everyone can contribute to tasks. 

Create a boundary between work and nonwork. Technology erodes the barriers between our work and personal lives. What can you do to create more of a boundary? For example, will your organization provide a second phone for professional use, so you can use your personal phone during off-work time without accessing work emails? Could you create a dedicated area in your home that is for work only?

Working from home presents many challenges; taking a deliberate approach at the outset can ease your transition and help you succeed.

Laura M. Graves, Ph.D. is professor of management at the School of Management at Clark University in Worcester. Her teaching and research focuses on issues related to leadership, motivation, work-life integration, and diversity. She can be reached at

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


April 13, 2020
This is excellent advice.I have been working from home for >5 years and agree with every point.
Order a PDF