A lot of companies are offering the opportunity to telecommute as a perk, and many people say they’d like to take them up on it. Other companies are essentially virtual – everyone works from home. But the truth is, working where you live isn’t for everyone. So if you’re offered a job that lets you telecommute, consider these points.
Evaluate the Job As You Would Any Other Opportunity
Don’t let this particular aspect of the job obscure the due diligence you should always do when considering a new position. First and foremost, list out the pros and cons of the role, including the reputation of the company, salary, benefits, nature of the work, the people, growth potential, and how the role fits into your short-term and long-term goals. Compare these to any other opportunities you’re considering. If the job still ranks above the others, then consider the question of working from home.
Learn From Experience
Get advice from people who have worked full-time from home. Start by talking to people in your network who’ve done it. Hearing that “it’s always fun to catch The View” might not be helpful. However, tapping into the experience of those who’ve worked successfully telecommuted may get you thinking about things you hadn’t initially considered, like possible distractions, the lure of the television set, or knocking off early for a beer on the patio.
A lack of an office doesn’t stop the need for teamwork and communication. Don’t be afraid to ask prospective employers about how the company connects without a formal office. Specifically, how do employees communicate and what does the company do to keep everyone engaged? Many companies use instant messaging or Skype, and you should be familiar with how they manage these connections.
Discipline and Personality
Once you’ve gathered information and outside perspectives, take a hard look at yourself and ask, “How self-disciplined am I?” Working from home requires self-discipline, focus and the ability to keep yourself on-task and in a routine. If you can stick to a gym routine without a partner and you don’t cut corners in everyday life when no one’s watching, you may very well find success working at home. But if you need a task master to keep you on target, you may struggle.
At the same time, even the most self-disciplined extroverts derive energy and inspiration from having others around them, and may need the constant buzz of an office to bring out their best work. To really answer the question, you have to be honest with yourself before committing.
J. P. Giugliano is a Senior Account Manager in the Accounting & Finance Contracts division at Winter, Wyman.