Work in my pajamas and take calls in bed? Sounds amazing!
There are many advantages to being able to telecommute. Imagine saving both time and money while also having the ability to wake up right before you need to start working. No longer will you spill hot coffee in your car while battling traffic on your daily commute. Trade in those expensive work clothes and shoes for the comfort of your pajamas since every day is now Casual Friday.
People who telecommute, even if it’s for only one day, will say some of the benefits include saving gas and time in traffic, the ability wake up on their terms, and a more relaxed work environment where you could keep your Facebook page up all day. Other people who work from home also talk about their ability to spend more time with their families and accomplish more household chores (whether this is a good or bad thing is up to each person). Some employers even say offering their employees the option to work at home facilitates a lower turnover rate and increased job satisfaction.
Many of us who suffer through daily rush hour traffic can attest that getting even 45 minutes back in your day can be quite beneficial to your quality of life. With modern day technology making telecommuting perfectly feasible for many jobs, many people fantasize about the concept of working from home. In fact, 1 out of 3 workers in the US are freelance workers or consultants. [Tweet this!]
Think there are no downfalls? Think again.
A huge problem with working from home is that there is often a blurred line between work and personal life. Things that may bother you at home are now dragged into your work environment, and this may act as a negative distraction on top of all the other various distractions that come with being at home.
Other problems with working from home include the struggle to focus since there is always laundry to do or errands to run. The lack of collaboration and participation with colleagues also disengages some telecommuters. However, according to a study published in the Bureau Labor of Statistics’ Monthly Labor Review, parents of dependent children are no more likely to choose to telecommute than the rest of the population. I have even heard some parents saying it is less stressful to come into the office than to stay at home where it’s harder to concentrate.
Another drawback of working at home is that many people tend to work more hours than they would in the office alone. The BLS study has shown that telecommuters report that technology increased their overall work hours and that workers will use technology to perform work tasks, even when sick or on vacation. People tend to think that if you work at home that you must be available, even after normal hours.
Some people also find themselves working more hours because their normal work day is now filled with errands and chores, frequent Facebook or Netflix surfing, or other distractions, such as your dog chewing up your cords or the cat pawing your coffee cup all over your laptop. It is also harder to get technical help when something goes wrong with your computer or phone.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to working at home. Some find it better to have a balance of some work-at-home days and some in-office days. People like the ability to come home after a long day and not have to think about work. Another factor to consider is what type of job you have. If it’s a job that is flexible with minimal in-person collaboration, a work-at-home situation might be beneficial. There are some instances, however, where being in the office with quick access to resources and other people are more convenient.
Think you still want to work from home? Here are some tips on how to be a good telecommuter:
• Work like you’re in the office: get dressed, eat breakfast, wakeup on time
• Create a schedule and stick to it: go to lunch and take breaks
• Let friends know that you’re still working even though you’re at home
• Try to visit the office regularly so people know who you are
• Make sure to reach out to your colleagues to maintain a relationship: be online for a chat or call people instead of solely relying on email
• Have a designated work area or take your work outside to a coffee shop or library
Although the idea of working from home is alluring, it may not work for everyone. Take into consideration the type of work you need to complete or the amount of in-person engagement your tasks require.