Thinking of Telecommuting? 3 Points to Consider
Working from home, or telecommuting, is increasingly common – in a 2015 survey 37% of employees telecommuted, and 80% wanted to. The benefits for employees include lower stress, less time on the road each day, flexibility of timing, and better ability to concentrate. Benefits for employers include reduced turnover, greater employee satisfaction, and greater employee productivity. With fewer people driving to work every day, it’s even better for the environment.
Because of its many positives, telecommuting is sure to grow. I’ve been doing it for years. When I worked in an office, I used time at home strategically for a critical bit of work, or when I needed to be home for something. As a consultant, I work from home almost all the time, and I love it. Like most things, telecommuting also has a dark side that you need to be aware of. When deciding whether it’s perfect for you, consider these factors.
Working at home can be a great way to focus, particularly if you have a big project or document to work on and a noisy open-space workplace. In an empty home, without the phone ringing and people dropping by your desk, you can devote your full attention to the matter at hand. I’ve found that in these situations one hour spent working at home can be worth 3 in the office.
At the same time, if you have kids, roommates, or pets, or are easily distracted by the television, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, there’s no one to see you goofing off. So, home can be a terrible space to work, if you don’t have the discipline to maintain your own focus.
If you work from home regularly, have a dedicated space for it. Maybe a home office, or a desk. Be sure that you can get away from it when you aren’t working. If you aren’t good at setting your own boundaries, you may find yourself working during ‘off hours’ – nights, weekends, early mornings – just because it’s there. This is why some businesses report that people work longer hours when they work from home. It requires setting boundaries for yourself. That can be hard.
You also need to set boundaries for other people. Friends, family, kids and neighbors may think your time is free. They will pop by for a cup of tea and a long chat, ask if you can run errands or whether you can ‘come out and play.’ If you have work to get done, and agreements with your manager or colleagues your telecommuting, you will need to set boundaries with your social contacts. If you don’t respect and enforce them, you could lose the privilege of working from home.
Although telecommuting is becoming more common, there may still be people who resent those that do it, or think that they aren’t really working. If you work outside the office regularly, be sure your colleagues can find you when they need you. Be available for important meetings on the phone or video. Deliver your work on time. Make sure your office mates ‘feel’ you in the office, even when you work remotely.
When you are in the office, be visible. Invest in one-on-one time with your colleagues. There is no substitute for connecting in person when it comes to being part of the team. Get into the office, listen to the coffee-machine news, stay connected. Don’t spend your office days tied to your desk, hiding from people.
Telecommuting can be a great way to work. You get comfort, flexibility, and the ability to concentrate and do your best work. Your company benefits from those great results, along with the advantages of an engaged employee who feels more appreciated and trusted. Telecommuting works. If you’re going to do it, do it right!