Telecommuting positions have become much more common across many industries in recent years. Constant advances in computing, communications, data sharing, and other technologies make it ever easier for people to work remotely. Some people thrive in a telecommuting position, but others end up unhappy with it, as it has significant advantages and challenges. So, as a job seeker, you should pay some attention to deciding if you’re a good fit for a work-from-home job.
General Benefits and Drawbacks of Telecommuting Positions
There are plenty of benefits of telecommuting for employers and workers. It’s an eco-friendly approach that reduces emissions and eliminates rush hour commutes. It reduces overhead associated with office space for employers, while allowing employees to work comfortably from home and often enjoy more scheduling flexibility. And numerous studies have found that people who work from home can be considerably more productive without the distractions that inevitably occur in shared work spaces.
But like everything, telecommuting setups have downsides, too. It can interfere with the energy and the synergy of a team, especially if all the team members aren’t comfortable working with people who are spread out among multiple locations. There may be communication issues (though these can certainly occur with everyone on site, too), and sometimes productivity suffers.
Ultimately though, employers make the decisions about which positions can be filled remotely. Many are open to employees or independent contractors working remotely part of the time and on site part of the time (a convenient way to test the waters of working from home). But you still need to approach the job hunt with a good idea of whether you want to pursue a telecommuting position at all.
So, mull over the following considerations for deciding if you’re a good fit for a work-from-home job.
Questions for Deciding Between Working Remotely or On Site
- Are you disciplined, motivated, focused, and independent enough to stay on task without the accountability that comes from being physically around your co-workers and bosses?
- Are you happy to be home by yourself all day, every day, or do you prefer having in-person interactions and socialization?
- Is being able to work in your pajamas—or any other outfit of your choosing—genuinely appealing? Or does putting on work clothes help get you motivated and in the right frame of mind?
- Are you comfortable communicating primarily via email, text, video chats, project management software, etc., or do you prefer being face-to-face for important conversations?
- Do you get easily bothered by feeling out of the loop? And are you prepared to be highly responsive so your co-workers and supervisor don’t start wondering if you’re slacking?
- Do you have responsibilities at home or related to your family that you can better tend to if you’re working remotely, and perhaps have more flexibility to adjust your hours as needed?
- Can you draw a clear line between work and home life? Telecommuting can be great for work-life balance, but it can also blur the lines, leave you working extra hours, and even make your home feel less homey if you lack structure, discipline, or a designated space just for work.
- And to continue the above thought, do you have a home office? Will it be quiet and free of interruptions? Do you have all the tools you’ll need to succeed working remotely?
- Does your spouse or partner have a job out of the house? If you’re both home, will this cause distractions? Also consider that problems can arise for some couples over the long term when one person works from home all day and one is on site at a job all day. The telecommuter often ends up craving socialization and chances to get out of the house after the workday, while the on-site worker is eager to get home and relax there.