By now, many firms have realized the benefits of allowing employees to telework, including increased productivity and a happier, more collaborative workforce. Utilizing unified communications (UC) systems such as video conferencing and instant messaging programs allows workers to stay in touch while contributing remotely, but staffers who have never teleworked before may find it challenging to make the switch to a home office. Luckily, there are many strategies that can help first-time telecommuters ensure that they continue to contribute effectively.

1. Balance home and work life
Employees who are working from home for the first time sometimes struggle to balance their home and work lives. Care2 contributor Ann Pietrangelo recommended that employees set a schedule to make sure that both work and personal time are as effective as possible. While employees may not be punching the clock per se, setting work hours that stay consistent day-to-day keeps work and play separate. However, she also pointed out that employees should be flexible – sometimes, it may be necessary to sign on a little early or sign off a bit late.

2. Take breaks
Even if employees aren't taking a lunch break when teleworking like they would in the office, scheduling periodic breaks is still a helpful way to stay energized and focused. Pietrangelo said that staffers should take a little time during work hours to take a walk or play with a pet, as doing so will help them feel rejuvenated and ready to be productive. She also suggested that teleworkers avoid eating meals at their desk, and instead head to the kitchen for a healthy snack.

3. Drop by the office periodically
According to Intuit, teleworkers should consider stopping by the office for in-person meetings if the company's location is close enough to allow it. Seeing coworkers face to face – even if it's only once every few weeks – can help foster strong relationships and keep professionals connected to what's going on in the workplace. 

4. Respond quickly to coworkers
Intuit also stated that employees who work from home should respond to emails and voice messages as soon as they're able. Being responsive shows that work is the priority and that distractions around the house aren't getting in the way of performing their jobs effectively. Replying quickly instead of waiting for a few hours shows that workers are efficient and focused on the task at hand. The source reported that those staff members who regularly respond to communication with haste will be considered more trustworthy and given more important projects.