The idea of working remotely can seem like a dream – sleeping in, wearing sweatpants all day, avoiding traffic, no weather issues and not having to find parking. However, it can also turn into a disaster if you are not ready for the transition. It all depends on your personality and ability to self-motivate. Having worked remotely for over six years, I found it to be an amazing situation that ended up benefiting me and my employers.
This is where important aspects of personality come into play. To start, I have listed a few potential pitfalls and items to consider.
- Salary vs. Hourly: Assuming the honor system is in place and working well, tracking your time should be easy. I believe working remotely is easier in a salaried position, but hourly can work just as well.
- Trouble getting started: Getting started can be difficult. When you are at a physical office location, you have already traveled from home and are now fully aware of your changed surroundings. However, working remotely, you move from the bedroom to the couch, table or coffee shop – not a significant journey.
- Distractions: TV, food, family, phone, internet, your bed, etc. This can be the linchpin of being able to work remotely. There has to be a balance and personal understanding of how you are going to work and what your expectations are for yourself.
- No whistle at quitting time: Like Fred Flintstone at the end of the day, many office employees watch the second-hand tick to End O’clock and leave the office. When you work from home, when is the end of the day? Is 4:30 good enough? Does finishing one last thing turn into working until 6:00? It may change every day. You have to make the call.
- No water-cooler and no boss: When at home, it is difficult to form meaningful professional relationships with your coworkers, which can be deeply important for networking and your career. And, you can’t just pop into your boss’s office to ask a question. Trying to get him or her on the phone can be a major challenge – I know from experience.
If any of the items above make you feel like an issue will arise, then perhaps working remotely isn’t for you. An honest discussion with your supervisor is always a good place to start. Now, if you can get the secret sauce just right, working remotely can become the most rewarding and professionally important time of your life. Here is why:
- No commute: It saves time and money, limits stress and is a rare opportunity to actually create more time in the day.
- Flexibility: Taking a break, running an errand or attending your kid’s baseball game, a remote office can make it easy to not miss out on important life events.
- No interruptions = high productivity: Turn the phone over and work for hours without interruption. People will need to actually schedule time to connect with you. Remember though, this is important time you need to schedule to maintain positive professional interactions.
- Go to the office when you want: Unless it is in a different city, you can head in for a day to change it up. If you schedule a meeting, plan to stay longer; make sure you talk to your coworkers, boss and others at work to keep relationships strong.
During my time working remotely, I found a great middle-ground that allowed me to produce high-quality work, surf almost every day and enjoy my job that much more. Working remotely isn’t for everyone, but if you can overcome the potential pitfalls, it can become as wonderful, mutually beneficial, work experience.
If you can think of other benefits or potential pitfalls, please let me know through a comment below.
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