Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Kerry Hannon didn’t plan for her next book to be released at the moment that many in the global workforce find themselves telecommuting from the comfort of their living rooms.

But with a summer publication date scheduled for “Great Pajama Jobs: Your Ultimate Guide to Working From Home ” the timing couldn’t be more appropriate, said the author, a Washington, D.C.-based freelance journalist who grew up in Fox Chapel.

By then, the spread of the COVID-19 virus that’s kept people at home may have subsided enough to allow some workers to return to their cubicles. Others hit with layoffs because of the pandemic may be searching for work.

And some who have found remote working more suitable than going to the office may want to continue the practice.

 Ms. Hannon’s book, to be published by John Wiley & Sons, provides a guide for young and seasoned workers alike who “want to work wherever they want to work,” she said.

Besides details on the kind of jobs ideally suited for remote work and companies that value telecommuters, it features advice from Ms. Hannon, who has worked from home for 15 years writing about personal finance, retirement, careers and other business topics.

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In a phone interview last week, she discussed some of her tips:

• Discipline. Set boundaries with a spouse, partner, children and other family members when you are working at home. Also set limits with your employer about your schedule so that you are not on-call 24/7.

• Communication. Establish regular check-ins with your coworkers and boss to avoid isolation. If possible, try to meet in person with your manager every few months to assess whether telecommuting is working for both parties.

• Technology. Because glitches happen to everyone at some point, set up backups like audio equipment that keeps you connected to meetings even when the video fails. Get up to speed on your tech tools by using the tutorials provided by Slack, Zoom, Google and other providers.

• Time for yourself. Schedule breaks to eat, walk the dog or exercise during your work day. For short escapes, go to another room and read a book or make personal phone calls —- activities that take you away from work screens and provide a mental and physical refresh.

• Wardrobe. Nothing wrong with wearing your pajamas all day if you’re on a solo project. If you are plugging in to a video conference, dress as if you’re attending an in-person meeting. Go for solid colors, avoid white and dab on a little makeup (even the guys) to avoid a shiny face.

• Respect others’ time on the phone. It can get lonely out there when you’re communicating frequently by email or text messages. So be careful on real-time calls not to talk too much or get off-topic.

by Joyce Gannon, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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