By: Tyrice Johnson
Working from home….for some people it’s the dream, and for others…..they don’t believe in it. The fact is many companies are offering flexible work environments where employees can carry out their duties in a traditional office or remote i.e. telecommuting/tele-work. It’s not all management either; traveling salespeople, call center staff; professional service consultants are some of the roles that have been associated with the remote lifestyle. As a fellow tele-worker I wanted to address some of the truths of life of working from home in case you are considering a position that does.
#1 – Yes, you have a real job even though you work from home
Companies expect you to complete your work when you are remote just like you would in the office. There are a few noticeable differences working between the two, and they lie in management and visibility. In a traditional office setting there are many opportunities to showcase your contributions, development, collaborate with teammates on a day-to-day basis, and management is typically hands-on. For a remote worker, you have to be ready when your number is called. In many cases management is hands-off and you have limited opportunities to interact with your team and showcase your talent. If your goal is to get promoted, this is something to keep in mind of.
#2 – Building relationships with co-workers and friends becomes…..Interesting
Friendship and camaraderie naturally develop between people that work together. Traditionally, we see these bonds develop at the office (just like TV show of course). However, in the remote work space things are anything but traditional. Meetings are held in virtual conferences instead of conference rooms, happy hour is with the one other teammate that lives in your region instead of the whole team, and about your team…some roles will allow you to see them once a week, and others once a year. Then there are your friends… Whether you live close to them or not the schedules that you have will be different. Sometimes, it will be difficult for you both to understand each other’s worlds because your work environments are different but, hey at least you have a job and friends right? The point is, building relationships when you telecommute requires intentional effort for both your co-workers and friends. You may not always have cooler talk gossip to share but at least you get do work in your jammys now and then.
#3 – Work/Life Balance is Stellar!
Many companies consider flexible work environments to give each employee the best opportunity to be as productive as possible… Being productive does not mean being at your workstation 7 hours a day and taking an hour for lunch… Sometimes being productive does not even mean spending most of your prep time working during normal working hours. Sometimes being productive, is allowing people to create their own schedule based on how they can be most effective. Having the flexibility to dictate your schedule allows you to run errands, take the kids to school, go to appointments, grab lunch, and maybe even catch-up on your favorite Netflix show. In a whitepaper by Microsoft on Working Remote, Work Life Balance was listed by over 60% of respondents as the top benefit of working from home.
Working remote is a unique opportunity. It tests your discipline, productivity, planning, and communication skills. Sometimes it will feel like you’ve been working forever because you truly don’t “clock out” like a traditional office. Other times, you’ll wonder how you’re getting paid because you finished your work in the first few hours you started. Each day gives you a chance to reflect and take the time you need to get better. One of the biggest benefits I have received from working at home is learning to rely on yourself for your professional growth. Working independently, allows you to assess where you need to grow and take time to utilize your resources to improve. It also allows you to make every interaction meaningful with your colleagues because the impressions you are making are defining your reputation. Working from home has its perks and challenges like working in any office. At the end of the day, you still are required to do your job to the best of your ability regardless of where you are. However, the phrase “working from home” presents a reality that all of us who tele-work understand. You have to be intentional about your work-life balance because your environments for both are the same. So try not to watch too much Sports Center while you are checking emails and eating breakfast like me.
Photo Credit: Erin Turner