EXTRA: 7 Questions: Telecommuting
For this installment of 7 questions, I’m tackling a question that a lot of people seem to have on their minds these days, as costs are rising and quality of life seems to be diminishing. In addition, I know that many of you are young professionals and sometimes juggling home, family and work is a pretty difficult circus act.
Working from home has come under fire a lot in recent years (Marissa Mayer and Yahoo! come to mind), in part because employees are not often held as accountable for their work and productivity. That said, a productive employee is a productive employee, and chances are if they are motivated enough to examine how they can be a better worker, they are motivated enough to make telecommuting work to its greatest advantage.
So without further adieu, the questions:
- Why do you want to work from home? Many people think they will be happier overall, save more money, spend more quality time with their families, and be more productive working from home. It helps to clarify exactly what your goals would be for this new work environment.
- Will working from home really help you accomplish your goals? If “spending more time with your family” involves being distracted from work every hour because you haven’t set clear boundaries, you may want to reexamine this goal. And remember also that you will have to strongly safeguard your productivity. If you want to move out of the office environment because you are easily distracted, remember too that there are a lot of distractions to be found at home, many of your own making if you’re not diligent about curbing them.
- What is your working style? Do you love bouncing ideas off of other people, or do you thrive in an environment where things are quiet and you can manage your interruptions more easily? I, for one, appreciate the opportunity to work at home if I am working on writing or thought-driven activities, but planning and determining next steps for a group takes place more effectively at my office. I save the former for my designated work-at-home days.
- Are you disciplined? Be honest with yourself. Are you disciplined enough to continue to turn out high-quality work in a relatively unsupervised environment? Many of the issues that employers have with telecommuting is that monitoring productivity becomes more difficult. To make the best case for your new situation, you will have to meet, or even exceed, your current productivity and quality levels.
- Are you a good time manager? In tandem with being disciplined about work that is not scheduled for a particular time, will you be able to keep and remember appointments for which you are responsible?
- Can you put together a good case for working at home that will make sense to your employer? In addition to productivity, employers sometimes consider other factors, such as the shared use of equipment or desk space, the coverage of shifts where someone has to be present in the office, and attendance at important meetings. Do your best to anticipate your supervisor’s questions in advance, and have a legitimate solution for addressing those concerns.
- Do you have a dedicated office space? If you know you can leap the mental hurdles to working at home, don’t forget to leap the physical hurdles as well. Having a space dedicated to work will help you, and others in your household, take your work more seriously. Organize your home office like your office at work, and make sure you have all of the supplies that you need to be successful. Have a dedicated space for files or materials that you will be shuttling back and forth between office and home. The added plus of a home office space is that you can add any touches that you may feel are lacking at your workaday office, such as more comfortable or aesthetically-pleasing office furniture, plants, or music that gets you motivated.
BONUS: Does working at home make sense for the trajectory you envision for your career? Make sure that, by choosing to work at home, you aren’t putting your career in a holding pattern. Continue to network and interact with your peers, coworkers and other professionals, and to take advantage of professional development opportunities.
Here are some other articles on this topic that may interest you:
- The Perils of Working from Home (Forbes)
- How to keep ‘work from home’ employees accountable—without spying (PCWorld)
- The Truth About Working from Home (The New York Times)
- Working from Home is Like Saying No to Drugs (LifeHacker)
- David Heinemeier Hansson: Every Employee Should Work from Home (Forbes)
- Should Leaders Let Employees Work from Home? (Engaged Leadership blog)
- 8 Productivity Misconceptions About Working from Home (DashBurst) [Note: I also borrowed the image for this article from their selection of awesome presentation images. Thanks DashBurst!]
And a funny:
- Why Working from Home is both Awesome and Horrible (The Oatmeal)
Do you telecommute, or have you in the past? Do other in your office? What do you see as the pros and/or cons of doing so?
Posted on April 23, 2013, in 7 Questions, In the News, Industry Research, Infographics, Prioritizing, Productivity, Project Management, Team Work, Workplace Issues, Your Career and tagged David Heinemeier Hansson, Employment, Forbes, Marissa Mayer, New York Times, Oatmeal, Telecommuting, Yahoo. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.