No more commuting, extra time spent with the family, better work-life balance. It all sounds very appealing, doesn’t it? Indeed these are the main reasons why people choose to work from home. But before you hand in that resignation letter and set up a home office, have you fully considered what’s involved? Do you have the temperament and self-discipline to successfully work from home? Telecommuting isn’t for everyone and in this article we highlight the key considerations that will help you decide whether you have what it takes.
When you work from home there are many potential distractions and there’s no boss breathing down your neck or co-workers keeping an eye on what you’re doing. The temptation to take a break by switching on the TV is huge. And before you know it, you’ve got stuck into a good movie and the whole afternoon seems to have disappeared. Successful telecommuters have high levels of self-motivation and self-discipline. They can resist the temptations and keep themselves on track.
- Problem-solving capabilities
What would you do if something goes wrong with the printer? And if your laptop crashes do you have a backup? Being a telecommuter requires the ability to independently problem-solve. There’s no central IT department that you can call on to come and fix your laptop. If the printer packs up, it’s down to you to sort it out, along with backing up all your data and key business information. Being independent and with the ability to problem solve is, therefore, an essential prerequisite for the home worker.
- Social isolation
Being a home worker can be a lonely job. There are no co-workers to enjoy a few minutes of banter with at the coffee machine. And there are no colleagues to bounce ideas off. It can be quite isolating. And while there are business networks of home workers that you can join as well as, no doubt, clients to meet from time to time or industry networking events, there’s no getting away from the fact that you will be spending large parts of the working day alone.
- Work-life balance
Often this is the main motivator for telecommuting in the first place, but sometimes the reality is something different from what you imagined. Workaholics, or those with an inclination to put in more hours than perhaps is good for them, need to tread carefully here. Without the obvious separation of office and home, it can be easy to find yourself spending more hours at your desk than you realise. What’s more, the mixing of family and work in one place can mean that family members expect that your presence in the home means you can always give your full attention to the family and undertake household chores as well. And whilst setting clear boundaries and ground rules is a sensible thing to do, it’s not always that simple.
Working from home is a great opportunity for many people. They have the internal resources and a career that allows them to do so. But before you make that choice, be sure that you have the necessary temperament and self-sufficiency to be a successful home worker.