The Alaskan Way Viaduct is closing on January 11th at 10 p.m. Many Seattle commuters are dreading their new commute during the at least 3-week shutdown while the Seattle Tunnel is constructed that has been dubbed the “Viadoom.” With over 90,000 commuters being pushed to side streets and 30,000 bus commuters facing crowded and delayed buses, many are considering working remotely. If working from home is a possibility, we have gathered some useful tips and tricks to make working remote a breeze!
One of the first steps to determine whether you can work remotely is to evaluate your responsibilities and your team dynamics. Are you able to accomplish your daily workload through email communication? Do you work on privileged or protected customer data that would need to be on a secure network? Do you need specialized equipment or secure connection to work remotely? King County’s initiative Work Smart says that information-based jobs are good options for teleworking (jobs that are based on reading, writing, research and working with data or talking on the phone).
If you feel that working remotely (aka telecommuting) is a good option, set up a meeting with your supervisor as soon as possible. Many employers may already be considering telecommuting options with the Viaduct closing. Make a detailed plan with your supervisor on what you will be working on and what files, software and materials will you need. Make a list of the files you access daily and the programs that you do not have access to at home. This will make it easier for your IT department or IT provider to grant you access.
The next step in successfully working remotely is your computer. If you are working at home, you will need to make sure your company’s data is secure and you have a private WIFI connection or hot-spot to work from. If you plan to work on public WIFI you need to inform your work ahead of time in case, they have any data security concerns. The last thing you want is for work files to be compromised while you are enjoying that sweet mocha latte at your new coffee shop “office.” Stricter security measures include installing a VPN connection to your work’s network. Your company’s IT department and supervisor can determine if you need a VPN connection. You will also need to forward all calls from work to your cellphone.
When working remote the key is to limit your distractions. Make sure you have a space that is dedicated to work and away from distractions like the Netflix. While working from the couch can see tempting it may cut down on your productivity. Next, make sure your WIFI and work station is ready to go before you start working on any major projects. If your home is noisier than you want, invest in some noise canceling headphones.
Create a comprehensive list of what you want to get done. Derek Frizzell, our Business Development manager says, “Minimize distractions as much as possible and mimic you work set up as much as possible. Make sure chores and other tasks are done before the work days so you don’t get distracted. If you are new to working remote set up an accountability check with in with your supervisors at the start and end of the day.”
If you are planning on working remotely but cannot dedicate a space for various reasons you will want to investigate co-working places or shared work spaces. Shared work spaces charge a small fee depending on how often you use them. Make sure to be clear on pricing and whether your company will be paying for this option. You can also look at the public library study rooms and utilize hot spots.
To help keep drivers off the road during the Viaduct closure King County encourages using their Telework program Work Smart. They work with employers on how to implement a telework program with guidelines and provide efficiency consultations to help a company transition to alternative work schedules or telework set up. According to their website they provide IT consultation, online resources and guidelines for employees and employers. They will also help train management to make them more comfortable with their employees working remote.
While many employers may have hesitations about employees working remote it can improve efficiency. Forbes notes that studies show the US loses $1.8 trillion a year in productivity. This loss of productivity comes from health problems, commuting and more. Workers often find it harder to achieve maximum productivity in a traditional office setting. In fact, employers say they see an increase in productivity, King County’s Work Smart program notes a “10-20% productivity increase.”
During the Viaduct closure working remote helps cut down on traffic jams and make more space for workers who cannot work remote. If you don’t think working remote will work for you, make sure to check out our other posts on essential information during the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. We cover bus route changes and Viaduct closure information that includes discount information for Lyft and Uber. Stay tuned for our last piece in the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure series on the changes to your bike ride to work.