10 Golden Rules for Effective Telework, From Commute Tampa Bay

Chris Jadick
Director of Communications
Chris.Jadick@TBARTA.com
Phone: (813) 639-7743

TAMPA, Fla. (March 26) – TBARTA’s Commute Tampa Bay is offering advice to local employees who suddenly find themselves working from home due to new “safer at home” mandates from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

“Telework has always been part of the mix that helps reduce traffic on the road. Now, that’s no longer an option for many of us, it’s a necessity,” said Cyndi Raskin, TBARTA’s Director of Commuter Services. “Commute Tampa Bay wants to share what we’ve learned to help those new to telework stay productive and keep those paychecks coming.”

This week, both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties passed measures requiring residents to stay home except for basic needs activity and essential jobs. The message for those who can telework: do it. “Everyone should make every possible attempt to stay at home unless you're an essential business,” says Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill. But telework is not a vacation. In many ways, it requires new focus and dedication.

“It’s so easy to get distracted when working from home.” Raskin said. “Creating a strict routine for yourself is really critical to staying on task and getting the work done that your employer is expecting of you.”

Here are Commute Tampa Bay’s 10 Golden Rules for Effective Telework:

1) Stick to your regular routine. Pajamas can be tempting, and while you don't necessarily need a coat and tie, the right attire can help you mentally get in the work zone. Even a casual polo shirt and khakis can set you up to be productive.

2) Set up a remote office space. Even if it is not a separate room, dedicate a space to work. Part of the dining room table is all you need for a dedicated office-like environment. But don't sit in that dining room chair all day, an office chair will be preferable for a full-day's work.

3) Make a daily list. At the end of each workday make a list of what you need to accomplish tomorrow. To-do items will be fresh on your mind before you quit for the day and the next morning you'll hit the ground running.

4) Know when to take a break. It's difficult to know when to log-off when work is so close to home. We are electronically connected 24/7, but unless you need to answer that email at 11pm, make it the first thing the next morning.

5) Take a walk at lunchtime. Don't just break for a meal, use it to stretch your legs and change your environment. If the weather is nice enough to get outside, you'll be recharged once lunchtime is over.

6) The basics still count. To-do lists, appointments, Outlook calendar invites, all help keep you organized when you are in the office. You'll need the same to maintain productivity in your home.

7) Hands-off those distractions. The TV remote, I-pad, social media and the like all vie for our attention at home. You need to refrain from electronics that can distract you. Put those aside until quitting time, you can use them guilt-free after that.

8) Don't let friends distract you, either. It's too easy to let friends distract you with text messages, phone calls, or FaceTime requests. But unless it's work-related during normal office hours, set some boundaries and stick to them just like you would in the office.

9) Unless its lunch or break-time, stay out of the kitchen. Consider your kitchen just like the break room at work: a convenient place to store lunch in the refrigerator or microwave some leftovers. Don't get sucked in to cleaning up, you'll waste work time.

10) Use commute time to your advantage. How long does it normally take you to drive back-and-forth to work? Bonus! That time is now yours, what do you want to do with it? Take care of chores that might have waited until the weekend.

During the COVID-19 emergency, TBARTA has also closed its offices and is requiring employees to work from home. But once the crisis passes and workers head back to their offices, congestion will return to our roadways. TBARTA’s Commute Tampa Bay will be here to provide options, not just to drivers but also employers.

“The Commute Tampa Bay team also works with businesses to develop alternative commute programs for their employees,” Raskin said. “Once we’re through this crisis, many companies might find they want to continue teleworking. We’ll be able to help them incorporate a more standardized program as part of their overall mix, as well as discuss carpool and vanpooling options for their employees.”

To learn more, go to www.CommuteTampaBay.com for program details, information on the program’s new ridesharing app, and additional telework resources

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The Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA) works to advance regional transportation needs in Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Our purpose is to plan, develop, fund, implement, and operate a world-class regional transit system in Tampa Bay. For more information, visit www.TBARTA.com.