One of the hottest career trends is remote working. Imagine. No more wasted time commuting. Being able to get enough sleep. Working in sweatpants. Taking breaks as you need them. In some cases, setting your own hours. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But are you suited for it? Before you make up your mind to work out of your home, consider the pluses and minuses of remote working.
Independence is probably the most important plus in remote working. You can practically live anywhere that has an internet connection and a cellphone tower and be able to work, even in the woods or a ski town or at the beach. Being able to work at your own pace in your own space is important to many employees. There is no supervisor walking by your cubicle to see how you are coming with sales calls or that report that’s due. You can play whatever music you wish to work by. You can get up and get a cup of coffee or a snack after making a call or writing a section of a report or Zooming with a client. There are no co-workers who interrupt your train of thought with stories about their weekends or who the new person is in sales. In other words, you manage your day and your work pace.
Flexibility is another positive asset to working from home. Sometimes, you just have to stop work and deal with something—a sick child or a repairman or a call from a friend you haven’t heard from in two years. If you were in your company’s office, you’d have to ask your friend to call you back or take the call and get back-to-work stares from your boss. You can’t just stop and deal with a child’s needs or the repairman who showed up if you were in the company office. You’d have to ask permission to leave and then drive home to deal with whatever the emergency was. In most cases, you can make up the time lost at home quicker than you could in your company’s office because you don’t have to commute.
Home-based workers may have fewer expenses. There is no commute so extra gas for your car or toll fees. No train fares if you come into a city from the suburbs. You don’t have to maintain a corporate wardrobe though you might keep some career clothes for occasional business meetings. You may or may not have to pay for and maintain computer equipment or internet access if your company provides those for proprietary reasons. You can also eat at home and not have to go out for lunch.
Isolation is often the most cited drawback for remote working. If you are young and looking to make social contacts at work or network with those who can help you up the corporate ladder, you may find remote working limiting. You will need to find collegial support by locating other remote workers in your company or across the country. One organization is the Remote Work Association (https://www.remoteworkassociation.com). There may also be small groups in your area that offer support.
Distraction is another minus for working from home. These can be family needs and noise from neighbors. One solution to those is to have a designated office with a door you can close and maintain office hours. Noises from outside can be minimized by white noise earphones or machines. Sometimes, simply playing music will mask what is happening outside your door.
Other distractions in the form of internal nags about dishes in the sink or laundry that needs to be done can also put a damper on your productivity. You can either delegate those chores or designate a specific day to do each or all of them. You can also do a bit when you break for lunch, for example, and then go back to work, hoping that nag in your head is satisfied for a while. The other distraction is television or internet surfing.
Lack of discipline is another drawback to working remotely. If you are easily distracted by technology, children, or other tasks, you might reconsider working from home. You must be self-directed to work remotely. You need to be able to manage your time and set daily tasks for your projects.
Internet issues can be a problem when you work remotely. If your internet connection isn’t high speed or it goes down often due to the provider or where you live, then perhaps you should consider finding a more reliable internet solution. Being connected technologically is vital for any remote worker.
Finally, the image of remote workers is often skewed even by some companies who offer work from home. Some bosses may want to change full-time benefited remote workers to contractor workers with no benefits. Some bosses may even be slower to promote remote workers over those who are in the office every day. According to Kimberly Elbach, a UC Davis professor, in an article in the Atlantic last year, assumptions are often made by employers that remote workers aren’t as dedicated mainly because they don’t see them face-to-face every day. Out of sight, out of mine. Being seen in the office often equates with dedication to your job and being career-driven. This could be mitigated through Zoom meetings as well as phone calls instead of making email your primary means of communication. Since career performance is often based on productivity some employers don’t see the number of hours spent on a project, sometimes more than the regular 40-hour workweek, and assume that the remote worker can easily turn around project demands and may shorten deadlines.
Remote Work Checklist
- Are you self-directed? Can you work independently with little supervision?
- Can you set boundaries between work and family/friends?
- Do you have a dedicated home office space?
- Are you comfortable working alone?
- Can you communicate clearly?
- Can you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
The world is changing. The pandemic has shown that the economy could continue, even during a global lockdown. Remote working was a lifeboat for American businesses and services. That idea soon became an invigorating way of working where many thrived as either full-time remote workers or as hybrid workers who spend some time in a brick-and-mortar building. Remote working has even prompted the Technological University of Dublin and other institutions around the world to provide courses in Remote Working Skills, offering instruction in soft skills such as communication and technical training. Remote working is here to stay and may become part of your own work life.
Here are some links to remote jobs in Atlanta:
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