Could Working from Home Help your Career?
As women we can often feel that we are faced with a choice: career or family. Will we be ‘stay-at-home Mums’ who give up a career for domestic bliss, or will we work and deal with the ‘Mummy guilt’ of sending our children to childcare?
Of course, the reality is that most of us are something in between. We either work part-time, or we come to some working arrangement that lets us put in a full week’s hours and spend quality time with our children.
Whichever option you choose, it’s almost inevitable that having children will affect your career. With women still responsible for most of the child care, the chances are you won’t be able to do endless overtime, and you’ll need to take more sick days to look after your children. And all that can be damaging to career prospects, especially if many of your colleagues are men who don’t have the same responsibilities.
But what if there was a way that you could maximise your working hours and have a level playing field when it comes to salary and expectations? If that sounds too good to be true, then you might want to consider working from home.
Telecommuting on the Rise
According to Global Workplace Analytics, working from home is the fastest growing sector in employment now. Employees want the potential to work from home, even if only part time and research has shown that about half of all roles could be carried out remotely.
This appetite for home working has inspired the development of tools which make the process so much easier. It’s increasingly common now for teams to not just be spread across the country, but around the globe.
Working from home is different to working on site. Companies that employ distributed teams are less likely to expect you to keep office hours. Digital nomads can work when they’re most productive, and for many that means splitting their hours across the day.
For example, you might get up early and work for an hour before the kids get up, pause for the school run, then get back to it when your children are soaking up their education. Not an early bird? You might prefer to cram in an hour or two’s work in the evening, when your other half is home and can spent some quality time with the children.
Remote teams also perform best if their work is measured by results, not by hours spent. There are software tools out there to help managers monitor their remote staff’s online time, but most remote working gurus advocate looking at output instead. This is particularly true for roles that have a creative element. Why spend time staring at a screen when going for a brisk walk or hanging the laundry might help you shift mental gears enough for a breakthrough?
Like everything, working from home does have its downside. Studies have shown that virtual team members tend to end up working extra hours. If something needs to be done, it’s all too easy to pull your laptop over and keep going during the evening or at weekends.
A common worry for remote workers is that they will be overlooked at work. Being ‘out of sight’ can also mean ‘out of mind’ when it comes to promotion. Although that may have been true in the early days of remote working, times are changing. As it becomes a more mainstream option, so training and career paths are easier to carve out.
Working from home can be isolating. When you don’t run into people in the coffee room, or pass on the stairs, your relationships tend to be limited to the colleagues that you interact with for work. And it can be tempting to be all business, keeping phone or video calls as short as possible. If you have a good remote team leader, they will know what can be done to compensate for this.
Is Working From Home the Answer?
Working from home can certainly help level the playing field when it comes to employment. Although there is still some resistance to remote teams from companies, most are coming around to the idea that allowing telecommuting can help them retain valuable staff through life changes such as parenthood. It helps that remote workers are more productive, and they save the company money, too!
So, if you’re thinking about starting a family or just finding a way that you can better integrate your work with your family life, then perhaps you can suggest working from home?