Is Remote Work the Right Choice for You?
How do you know if working remotely is a good decision for your type of work, as well as work-style? Like anything in life there are positives and negatives, so taking an objective view is essential in making the right choice for you. The obvious positives are that you’ll save on travel time, money for gas, clothing expenses, lunches, along with keeping the mileage down on your car. But there are other, not-so-obvious factors you need to consider.
Q: What factors do I need to consider?
Not everyone is self-motivated enough to work from home, or you may not feel comfortable working alone with little or no supervision. While the Internet, office intranets, and technology like teleconferencing support interaction and collaboration with remote coworkers, you may need in-person mentoring or on-the-job training, or simply prefer the inter-office comradery and on-site visibility necessary to learn the business and foster career advancement opportunities. You may also need to be physically present if you manage others. There are many factors like these where you might want to consider working from home only part of the time, perhaps just one or two days a week, and spend more time in the office to better build and nurture professional relationships.
Q: What skills do I need to work from home?
You must be good at your job and already possess whatever skills are needed in your profession to succeed. You’ll need to be comfortable with technology to work remotely and communicate effectively with your associates, whether they’re in the next town or halfway around the World. In addition to proficiency in your job, working from home requires a lot of “soft skills” like dependability, responsibility, and ability to inspire confidence and trustworthiness in your management and co-workers.
Q: What else should I know about working from home?
Don’t try telework if you think working from home will enable you to look after your children or elderly parents/grandparents. While working from home can provide more flexibility and work/life balance, you will likely have regular hours that require you to be at your desk and available for coworkers, vendors or clients via email, phone or online. It takes discipline to stay focused on the job, a lot more so than when you’re physically in an office environment. It’s advisable to have a dedicated office space in your home, preferably with its own door so you can shut out the background noise, interruptions from family members, and focus on your job. Not everyone can limit the distractions that often happen when you work at home.
If possible, ask around. Find people who have a similar job to yours and get their insight on what it’s like to be a remote worker. Ask about the pros and cons, then determine if these align with your natural work style or if there will be potential obstacles to impede your performance.
You can follow Sylvia’s career advice at http://www.shrmhawaii.org/
Photo courtesy of Hakan Dahlstrom.