While the idea of working from home is appealing, it isn’t right for everyone. Some people thrive on the ability to work independently, without a commute. Others, however, need the structure. They need to see people each and every day. If you’re considering a telecommute option, ask yourself these questions first to determine whether you should be a home or office worker.
7 Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Is your job conducive to telecommuting?
The first step in determining whether or not telecommuting is right for you is to ascertain whether or not you could perform your duties from home. We know that it sounds like common sense advice, but oftentimes people get so caught up in the prospect of telecommuting that they don’t think about its compatibility with their workload.
If you need to manage in-house technologists, then telecommuting won’t be the right fit for you. On the other hand, if you could perform all your tasks at home without affecting other individuals’ workloads, then telecommuting may be a great option.
2. Do you need to see people, outside of your family members, on a daily basis?
Some people enjoy sitting at their desk, pounding away for 8 hours, without talking to anyone. Other people can’t do that. They need to see, and interact, with people throughout the day in order to be happy and productive. If you’re the former, working from home is great for you. If you’re the latter, you may want to consider sticking to the office.
3. Will you be as productive without a manager breathing down your neck?
Are you a self-motivated worker? Can you work diligently on a project, and not get distracted by your Twitter or Facebook feeds? Or are you the kind of person who means to be productive, but can only really concentrate when your manager is working in the cubicle next to yours? People who work from home need to be self-motivated and focused without any prompting.
4. Will you be distracted at home?
A lot of people think that telecommuting allows them to balance caring for their kids throughout the day with work. This isn’t the case. If you’re working from home, make sure that you’re working 9 – 5, without interruptions, just as if you were working in the office. While it’s easy to think that telecommuting gives you more flexibility within your day, don’t give in to the distractions. Telecommuting is like working from a different office. Only switch to the house if you’re sure that you’ll be able to avoid these distractions.
5. Do you have somewhere you can work at home?
While it’s certainly tempting to work from your bed or couch all day, studies have shown that you’re less productive when working from these positions. A quiet place, somewhere you’ll only use for work, is optimal. Working in your living room, while your kids or roommates are home will only distract you. Again, telecommute only if you’ll be able to avoid distractions.
6. Do you have a reliable record of competence and hard work?
If you’ve been a bit flaky in the past, there’s a good chance that your manager will refuse your telecommuting request. If you’re the model employee, the Java developer who always has their projects done ahead of schedule, the odds are more in your favor. If you’re the former, however, don’t fret. There’s a possibility that you’ll be able to telecommute in the future – you just have to prove yourself, and build this record of reliability.
7. Are you hoping to be promoted?
Unfortunately, telecommuters are often overlooked when it comes to promotions. It doesn’t mean that they’re not doing great work though, they probably are. It’s just that promotions tend to go to the people who are in the office every day, where managers can see both work effort and interpersonal interactions. If you’re hoping to climb the corporate ladder, telecommuting is going to hinder that process. You’ll need to decide which of the two – telecommuting or promotions – is most important to you.
Hopefully the answers to these questions clarified a thing or two for you. Maybe it’s made you realize that you are the perfect candidate for telecommuting. On the other hand, perhaps it’s brought to light that working from home will only hinder your career’s productivity or growth. It may sound like fun, but it’s important to make sure that telecommuting is the right fit for you before you jump into it.
Thanks to skampy for the use of their respective photographs.