5 tips for telecommuting (and how to find a library job that will let you do it)
by Brad McNally, Senior Editor
Some positions require that a person be physically on site, and librarianship is one career field that typically is seen as an in-person job choice. With new technology, however, and positions such as librarian for online college programs or remote cataloger, this option is opening up to more information professionals. If you haven’t telecommuted before, it can be surprisingly difficult.
If you are searching for a LIS job that offers the ability to work from home, check into the INALJ Virtual postings. Also, discuss it with your current employer. For some projects, that may work out just fine and they might be willing to work with you on it. Also, consider doing contract of freelance work. Research and database management, for example, can be done from any location generally. Think of non-traditional library jobs and realize that there is a wide world of options.
Once you do start telecommuting in any capacity, here are a few tips to make it go much smoother.
Separate work and home life
This is difficult at first, but it can be done. If you sit down to get to work, you need to work. Of course, three or four minutes of picking up wouldn’t hurt, and you could go ahead and do those few dishes in the sink. This is a dangerous assumption, because it stops you from focusing on work. If you can, do your work in a separated office from the rest of your house so you can be “at work” when you need to focus.
Get out of the house
Sometimes, being in the house for a long period of time can cause you to go slightly stir crazy. If you need a change of scenery, take your laptop and go work from the local library, or a coffee shop. This will give you small breaks and a change of scenery that can help you get past motivational bumps. One of the other advantages to telecommuting is that if you need a resource you can go get it. You aren’t tied to the office, and you don’t have to be tied to the house either.
Remember to take breaks (and give yourself a hard stop)
When working from home, the boundaries between work and your regular life get blurry. Without clearly defined time boundary, you may find yourself working well into the evening or skipping lunches. Make sure that you take breaks as needed, or your work will suffer. Also, be sure to give yourself a hard stop for the end of the day as well. Without the physical act of leaving the office, the transition away from your work day can seem to never come.
Communicate with your coworkers and supervisor
Open communication with coworkers and supervisors is incredibly important when you are not physically in a building with them. Keep yourself available by phone, but be sure they know what you are doing as well. Many jobs will require that you maintain the same type of tracking if you are working from home or the office (such as a data log or shared spreadsheet). This will help keep everyone aware of what you are working on, but also be sure to send a quick email if you are called away for something while working to give everyone some notice. You wouldn’t walk out of the office for the day without saying a word, so do your best to maintain professional courtesy.
Consider telecommuting part time
Going from a 9-5 office job to working out of your house all the time is a big change. If you are working with your current employer but changing roles, consider starting out part time from home and still holding office hours at work. This will give you the chance to adjust slowly and get it right. For some, full time employment during the day is standard but there may be the possibility of doing some part time work for an outside agency. This could lead to eventual full time work from home.