Before becoming a telecommuter, consider these possible downsides.
With traffic getting worse and technology getting better, working from home is becoming more and more tempting. In fact, the number of telecommuters in the Seattle area increased by more than 50 percent between 2007 and 2017.
This statistic is bound to grow because the benefits are so attractive. You don’t have to battle rush hour traffic, you save on gas, you get more control over your work environment, and — of course — you might even get away with working in your pajamas.
But it’s not all upside. If you have the kind of job that can be done remotely and if you’re considering the switch, you will want to first consider these four important points.
Equipment. Your computer, internet connection and peripherals need to be up to date and in top working order. If you’re supplying your own, consider asking your employers to pitch in for upgrades. (Couching this ask in terms of data security is a good way to get their attention.)
Structure. People used to a traditional workplace may miss the routine. At least at first, you might want to set a schedule similar to the one you adhered to before, with regular lunch hours and breaks. If your home environment comes with the distractions of a spouse, children or pets, you have an additional challenge. You’ll need to make sure that everyone you share your living space with is on the same page.
Workload. Very often, the hours you save eliminating your commute get eaten up by heightened demands from your employers. Indeed, you may even have had to promise more work time in exchange for the “privilege” of getting to work off-site. Pay special attention to making sure your employer knows how productive you are (be super-reliable, check in frequently, send regular updates, etc.), and try not to get roped into taking on too many extra tasks.
Isolation. Extroverts might suffer in the absence of colleagues to collaborate with, or just talk to. Even introverts often find total solitude to be too much of a good thing. So know thyself. It’s always smart to have a Plan B in mind before starting anything new. You may even find that just one or two days a week working from home suits you better.