More people are telecommuting than ever before. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 37 percent of U.S. workers have telecommuted, four times greater than the 9 percent found in 1995. The arrangements vary, and for some it is full time and for others limited to a few days a week. Recently, a client of mine with a portable workload was asked, along with her entire department, to telecommute as a strategy for the company to lease a smaller space. While this would have many jumping for joy, it was unwelcome news for her as she enjoyed daily interactions with coworkers. It required a shift in expectations, attitude and proactivity to create new rituals and routines to replace those of a traditional workplace.
When people think about telecommuting, they tend to respond in two distinctly different ways. The first group goes into a reverie, expressing in glowing terms how great it would be. They envision themselves shedding a dreadful commute, wearing sweatpants to work, and having proximity to laundry in order to pop in a load from time to time. They’re eating healthy foods and working out, while accomplishing more they could in an office setting. They rarely picture the pitfalls, like isolation.
The second group responds in a fearful way, voicing concerns that they would eat too much, procrastinate too much, and not get enough done. They rarely picture the benefits or see themselves in control of their schedules.
In each of these responses lie truth. It can be daunting to be productive when your work and home life are under one roof. It requires discipline and motivation to produce results when no one is around. It can also represent freedom from some of the unwanted aspects of office or cube life. There are pros and cons to telecommuting and, as in every lifestyle choice, requires self-awareness, insight into your personality and clarification of values and preferences. While anyone can do it, it is not for everybody.
Regardless of your initial response to the idea of a home-based work life, there will be aspects to maneuver around. Over eight years of working in a home office and helping clients navigate it, I have developed strategies that support productivity and address the challenges, regardless of field. If and when you decide to try telecommuting or starting a home-based business, these tips can help:
As it goes with most things in life, working at home will be what you make of it. If you approach it with self-confidence, optimism and an orientation of enjoying the benefits and overcoming any obstacles, you can enjoy a full, satisfying and rewarding career. Please post comments about your experiences and any tips or hacks you have learned along the way.
Reprinted with permission from the October 27, 2016 of “The Legal Intelligencer” © 2016 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact 877-257-3382, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.almreprints.com.