Telecommuting – do you have what it takes to work from home?

I found another linkable item on Career Adventure. This post is about telecommuting and how to tell if you are the right type to do it. This one rings so true. I have worked from my home for a large technology firm for about four years. It works very well for me, as I am self-directed and fairly disciplined in my work routine. Most of the time, I have enough deadlines and conference calls that even if I wanted to slack I can’t. I have done my share of laundry and getting the dishes cleaned, but the hours tend to be a little longer and there is more flexibility if necessary. I don’t have to drive home and set up the laptop to be ready for any after-hours work, it’s already set up and ready to go.

The department I worked with was always remote, so even if I drove to the local site I wouldn’t be with any of the people I actually interact with. That means I had to learn how to lead and manage remotely as a way of life. There are times it has been convenient to have those one-on-one calls with my employees without worrying about the cleaning crew wanting to vacuum or someone else poking their head in the door.

I have watched almost the complete cycle with my company. When I first began there was a resistance to working from home even at night or one day a week. Then real estate concerns got involved, and there was a push to move more employees to work from home. I think it was successful for the most part. Granted, some people don’t work well in the distracting environment of their home, and some tasks are just too collaborative to do with a remote team. But most of us were happy to lose the commute and traffic, and we have thrived working in our home.

We have learned to build and maintain relationships through phone calls, small talk at the beginning of conference calls, instant messaging, and emails. We certainly know who the workers are, the reliable ones we can go to for information or help. We all agree that it is sometimes lonely and maybe we miss something by not being face to face with someone from our company, even if they aren’t in our area. I don’t think that has affected productivity or morale, though. The benefits still outweigh the concerns.

Yet, I see strong signs that the company is shifting to get people back on centralized worksites, with cubicle farms and war-rooms, even relocations but without the financial assistance to move. It will be interesting to see how this works after so many of us have experienced the flexibility of working from home.

This entry was posted in Work. Bookmark the permalink.