Does your employer offer the option to work remote? Are you thinking it might be for you? Or maybe you have already taken the plunge? I started working remotely out half way through my pregnancy out of necessity. I was pregnant with twins and it was not appropriate to take afternoon naps at my desk. Towards the end of my pregnancy I could not even fit behind the steering wheel!!
The moment I tasted the work-from-home life style I was sold. After returing to work after maternity leave I went to the office for a few days – this was purely social. I showed pictures of the babies, caught up on office ‘gossip’, and re-established all my tool access. Then I was back home. It’s been five years now and aside from the Christmas party and a few days of training I haven’t been back.
It is not always easy to work from home and there are definitely advantages and disadvantages for you as an employee. Let’s get the cons over first.
Cons of Working Remote
Working remote full time is not for everyone. Be forewarned about the obstacles and determine if it is right for you.
- Social Isolation – it can get lonely. I never realized just how much socializing I did in the office until I stopped going in.
- Networking – much like the socialization the organic networking from water cooler talk is not happening. You may always feel like you were the last to find out.
- Perception– this is a tricky one. While most should judge you by the quality of your work there are still folks out in workplace who believe that remote employees are goofing off and less productive.
- Productivity/Distractions – you are going to find productivity on the pro list as well. However there are people who just cannot keep the distraction under control. Sometimes it can be members of your house interrupting, sometimes you start cleaning the bathroom instead of working, or sometimes you sit your butt in front of the TV.
- 24-hour Workday – you never leave the office. Lying in bed at 3am realization hits; you forgot to send that oh so important email, there is no way to go back to sleep, you decide to trudge down the stairs to get it done.
Pros of Working Remote
Lets get into all the wonderful ways your life can improve if you overcome the cons of working remote employment.
- Financial Savings – Most people know you save on gas and wear on your vehicle. Most car insureres have a discount for no commute. The savings don’t stop there; you no longer need the extensive wardrobe, breakfast in the car, lunches.
- No Commute – we have an ongoing joke in our home about my dreadful one minute communicate to the office. All that stress getting to the office is gone.
- Productivity – as promised productivity finds its way on the pros list. Productivity doesn’t just extend to your job. Imagine, you just saved and hour or two not commuting, flip laundry between conference calls, prep your dinner vegetables during lunch, or an evening conference call across the globe to get that project.
- Flexibility – As long as your internet connection is strong and safe you can work virtually anywhere. Remote employee doesn’t necessarily mean home. A few weeks a year I will work from the cottage…nothing like signing off with your holiday just outside the door. One day I want to take the kids on an extended trip and work overseas for a few weeks.
How to be Successful
Set yourself up for success. Create the right environment to be comfortable and productive.
- Have a Specific Office Space – don’t work on the couch or in bed, they are terrible for your posture and too many distractions. Unlike the mundane office cubicles in an office building your home office should be a reflection of you. Surround yourself with pieces that speak to you, inspire, and enjoy.
- Establish Boundaries – Boundaries are for both your household respecting your work time (closed off door means don’t bother me), but also for you to not let work trickle into your home life.
- Equipment – Think ergonomics first. A chair that supports the back and adjusts for the right seating position. Two years ago I invested in a sit/stand desk it was the best thing for my office. I went with an IKEA Galant/Bekant but there are tons of options. In my opinion a home office needs at least one monitor, I use two displays and keep the notebook closed to spare my eyes. If you are on a lot of conference calls you need a good headset.
I hope reading this post inspires someone to take the plunge and go remote. It has definitely improved my life.