More Americans are working from home as part of their daily job life. New US Census data shows that about 8 million of us (or about 5.2 percent of the population) worked from home in 2017. In 2018 globally, 68% of the population works remotely at least once a month. Are you one of the chosen many?

For many of us, the idea of working from home is the dream job! You wake up when you want, you brew some coffee, you turn on your laptop, and you lay in bed, clicking and writing for a few hours until you need a stretch. But is this the reality of working from home? No.

As a home-based remote worker, we know that when we're "on the job," we need to be present and connected to the work we have. With much of today's online work and office communications being conducted via platforms like Zoom, Google, Dropbox, Slack, HubSpot, and more, we know that we must be logged in, involved, and communicating with our team or client to have a productive workday.

There's more to it, like having a set daily schedule for work, being dressed like you would be at the office, managing your workstation equipment, and having access to top-quality video conferencing tools.

These are all important to your daily work discipline, organization, scheduling and planning. In a sense, you're not working from "home," you're simply working in a remote location, just as you would on a business trip, or from an industry conference.

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Let's look at some of the key elements of being the best remote employee that you can be.

1. Set a daily schedule and keep your Google calendar up-to-date for your team.

A key benefit for working from home is the ability to get your project work done on your own time, at your own pace. But now, with everyone connected to the platforms mentioned above, you can maintain a regular work schedule, keep up with team meetings, and still fit in time for the #1 reason global employees choose to work remotely -- productivity and focus. An important part of being a part of a hybrid team is scheduling time and focusing on your calendar.

When you are implementing your schedule, it's best to look at the time blocks available to you on a given work day. Use some of these time blocks to get your deep focus work done (coding, writing, preparing client briefs, and others), and other time blocks for client emails, social media, and more.

Being at work means being fully present and focused on your available hours, your project deadlines, and not letting distractions upset your work day.

2. Get dressed

One of the key factors in being productive in a remote job is the importance of treating your work-at-home experience almost as a normal day at the office. This means getting dressed in typical workday clothes and being ready for work at the appointed time.

Some of you might shower every morning before starting work at home. For others, this might not be as important. But almost all work-from-home experts suggest getting dressed, being alert, and signing on in a timely manner for your work-from-home day. The old stereotype of rolling out of bed and into your desk chair in your skivvies or PJs can certainly happen occasionally, but for those who work fully remote, a regular daily schedule can help boost productivity. 

It's all about being refreshed daily. Treating the work from home as a regular workday keeps you rhythmically ready for work each day. And it helps keep you in a consistent work routine. This is important for work-from-home employees.

3. Have a dedicated workstation that is distraction-free

Much of today's remote work involves the use of desktop PC or laptop, along with communication tools, the ability for video conferences and more (more on that below). And if you want to maintain a clear head about your work, the ideal space is a dedicated area of your home to work.

This area could be a side corner in your apartment or a separate room in your house. Make a distinction that this is a "workspace" and set limitations and boundaries on it. This can be especially important if you have young children or roommates at home.

They need to know that you are in the "work room" and that you require quiet time for the activities inside. On top of having a dedicated space for remote work, make sure you keep the work area clean. Clean work area helps with clean project work!

4. Use the best audio-visual technology to enhance meetings and improve your participation

We mentioned communication tools and video conference programs above. This is crucial to your success as a freelancer or remote worker. Having that sight and sound connection with your team, manager, or client is necessary for your work-at-home success.

To do this successfully is to have the best video conferencing programs at your fingertips. Research shows that video conferencing is 30% better for communication than audio-only setups. 

The Meeting Owl Pro is a  360° smart video conferencing camera that enables remote workers to be a part of the conversation. Remote employees can get a snapshot of the entire team to gauge the interest and involvement of the group. Employees who work remotely can combine the Meeting Owl Pro with Slack, Google Suite, Zoom, and other communication tools to ensure that they are no less involved than in-office teammates. 

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