Does working for a company where everyone works remotely sound intriguing, but perhaps a bit intimidating? The concept of working virtually from a home office or co-working space full-time is still a foreign concept for many, although this type of work situation is on the rise.
While there is no Census Bureau- or government-produced data that provides granularity on the frequency of remote work (also referred to as telework or telecommuting), Global Workplace Analytics’ research finds that:
- 20-25% of the US workforce holds a job where they frequently work remotely.
- Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 and 6.5% in 2014. This represents the largest year over year increase since before the recession.
Some companies offer “work from home” as a perk – i.e. something that only a few team members may do because of a special circumstance or it’s offered as something that can be done a few days a week.
For example, I once had a candidate share that their former employer instituted rotating work from home days because as the company’s headcount grew larger there weren’t enough parking spaces available if all the employees came into work. Interesting reason to start a work from home policy and it proves there are many reasons why an employer might allow its employees to work remotely.
But what about working for a company full-time, remotely from your home office?
While the concept is attractive to many, some people’s idea of remote work doesn’t necessarily match up with reality. To get a better idea of whether or not you’d transition well from working in a traditional office environment to working from your home office or a co-working space, we’ve provided 8 questions that would be helpful for you to ask yourself.
To keep this content digestible, we’re breaking this blog post into two parts. This post, Part 1, will include the first 4 questions. The second post, which we’ll send out next week, will include the next 4 questions. So let’s get to it!
1. Why do I want to work from home?
This is a critical question to consider. If you think that working remotely from home means that you’ll be able to have a leisurely coffee until 9:30 or have time to make your kids a pancake breakfast every morning, you might want to re-evaluate. Working remotely from home requires very similar accountability and expectations as a traditional office environment does – just sans the commute.
But is a lack of a commute enough of a reason to want to work from home? Usually not.
2. How much structure do I need?
Are you good at creating your own work schedule each day and motivating yourself to get working when there’s no one around to see what you’re doing? No judgement here, but some people simply work better when they physically leave their house and go to an office environment where they are surrounded by their colleagues. It keeps them motivated and on task. Whereas if they never left their house, they easily get pulled into non work-related activities, such as watching TV, doing laundry, etc.
Successful telecommuters have the discipline to set a daily schedule and start their work-day just as they would if they were in an office. They have the ability to be productive without constant oversight and manage non work-related interruptions.
Don’t get me wrong, I myself am known to throw in a load of laundry every now and then; but housework can’t take over your work day.
3. What will I do to balance my work and life?
Think about how you’ll structure your day and separate your physical work space from your personal home life. Do you have a conducive area in your home that you can allocate as your home office? Is it a space you can leave at the end of your work day? Or, do you live in a space where your home office will also be in your bedroom, eating and living room area, etc., potentially making it difficult to have good work/life balance. Having a separate, dedicated home office space or co-working space you can go to is important for remote workers, otherwise it’s easy to find yourself working 24/7—or not working at all.
Childcare is also something to consider. Some people are of the notion that working from home means that they’ll also be able to avoid having to pay for childcare. Again, working remotely from home requires the same type of focus as if you were working in an office. It may make it easier to care for a sick kiddo without having to take time off work, but all of our team members who have little ones who aren’t yet in school still rely on another caregiver, daycare or in-home care so they can focus on their work during the day.
4. How strong is my communication?
While there is still ample communication between team members who work remotely, the type of communication is different. When you work with colleagues in an office, you can see someone’s facial expressions and body language. When working remotely, you may be able to see their face via a video call, but it’s much more difficult to pick up on their non-verbal communication. Succeeding in a remote work culture requires a strong ability to write and speak in a way that is clear, thoughtful and collaborative. It’s also important to have self-awareness about how you express yourself, your tone, and your listening skills.
For example, have you received feedback on more than one occasion that your tone or communication comes across as harsh or rude – even when you weren’t intending to be? Or perhaps you’ve been told that you are too quiet or soft-spoken and are asked to speak up more? While these are all skills that can be improved over time, they will likely be amplified in a remote working environment and could initially hold you back.
Take some time to really consider these questions and your answers to them. We’ll send out Part 2 of this blog post next week with 4 more questions that we think are important to ask yourself before transitioning from working in a traditional office to working remotely (full-time) to a home office.