Published 09 January 2019 Category: Compass Tips, Workplace, Telecommuting, Freelancers, Startups

Is Working from Home Right for You?

Working from home, also known as telecommuting or telework, may sound like a dream come true to many job seekers. The idea of sleeping in, spending the day in your pyjamas, working on your own schedule, and saving an hour or two each day that you would otherwise spend commuting – it all sounds very appealing. Still, the freedom and flexibility of telework aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

As many telecommuters will tell you, the line between work and leisure often gets blurred, the flexible working hours can extend until well after midnight, and finding motivation can be difficult. Of course, not everyone experiences these downsides, but how do you know if working from home is right for you?

The Pros of Telecommuting

The pros of mobile work can be summed up in three words – independence, flexibility, and productivity.
When you’re working from home, you are on your own. There’s no boss standing behind you, watching your every move, and nudging your elbow if you happen to get distracted. Of course, the lack of authority means that you’re in charge of your own discipline focus, motivation, and concentration.

Since most telecommuting jobs don’t have fixed working hours, you will likely be able to work on your own schedule. As long as you get the work done, no one will care at what time you show up for work and when you sign off. On the flip side, starting work late means you’ll have to stay up late to finish it.

With your daily commute taken into the equation, your eight-hour working day at an office was likely at least 10 hours long. However, since you’re not spending hours commuting, mobile work gives you two extra hours to be productive without noise, interruptions, and other office-related sources of stress.

The Cons of Telecommuting

Working from home isn’t without its downsides.

For one, whereas most office employees finish work by 5 or 6, telecommuters often sit in front of their computer until very late at night. Over time, the line between work and home life can become so blurry that you feel like you’re at work all the time, which often results in burnout.

With no one around to keep an eye on you, your superiors and your colleagues may think that you’re slacking when you fail to reply to an email as soon as you receive it or don’t answer your phone when they call you. To prevent this, some employees may ask you to report on your progress several times a day. What’s more, you may have to install software that takes periodic screenshots of your computer.

We often fail to realise this, but for many of us, the bulk of our social interactions happen at the office, usually during breaks from work. When you’re working from home, there’s no one else in the room with you, which means that there’s no collaboration and certainly no casual water cooler chat. If you tend to work days and nights, you might quickly start feeling out of the loop and isolated from others.

Is Telecommuting Right for You?

To decide if working from home is right for you, there are a few things you should consider.
Because you’ll be your own boss, you need to be very good at managing your time. That’s the only way to avoid some of the pitfalls of telework and enjoy the benefits of your flexible work arrangements. In addition, you should be excited about the work that you’ll be doing. Without passion, finding motivation will be particularly difficult, which will keep you from achieving success as a telecommuter.

To ensure that flexible working doesn’t become so flexible that it takes over your whole life, you should ideally have a dedicated workspace in your home that you’ll use for telecommuting. Whether it’s a room, a desk, or just a kitchen table with your laptop on it, it needs to be as far removed from your bed or couch as possible. Otherwise, you could become too relaxed and start slacking as a result.

If you meet these requirements and have a dedicated workspace in your home, telecommuting may be a good choice for you. However, if you’re struggling to muster up the motivation for the job, you’re easily distracted and not particularly good at managing your time, and you can’t stand not being able to talk to others for more than a few hours, you should probably look for an office job instead.

Freelancing and Virtual Offices

We’ve gone over many aspects of telecommuting so it’s only natural to quickly take a look at a similar concept – freelancing. While there are some fundamental differences between the two, they frequently boil down to a pretty similar affair in practice.

The main difference is the type of contract you’ll have. With telework, you’re a regular employee who just happens to work from home. But as a freelancer, you’re an independent worker hired to do a specific job. But when you get down to it, the difference may be difficult to notice in your day-to-day work.

In essence, freelancing from home will tread the same ground as telecommuting. Only, both the pros and cons will be more pronounced. So, as a freelancer, your work arrangement will be even more flexible. But, the negative aspects have the potential to hit you even harder. So, it once again comes down to the same issue – figuring out if this type of work is for you.

Additionally, the concept of working from home has brought some fresh challenges in addition to the benefits. Specifically, while you have the option to work in your pyjamas, you may not want your clients to perceive you as such. Plus, there are other limitations your home has when it needs to double as your workplace. To address these challenges, the idea of virtual offices has risen to the occasion.

With it, you have the potential to take your work from home to the next level. From a prestigious address to call handling and meeting room access, there are packages to suit different needs. Numerous challenges of telecommuting will still remain, but a virtual office can help bridge that gap. You still need to decide if you can make it work, but offers like these can certainly help.

Extra Tips for Telecommuters

If you decide that telework is right for you, there are a few things that can help you achieve success.
First of all, make sure to keep your superiors in the loop so they don’t think they’re paying you to slack. Similarly, be responsive to messages you receive and try to be available for conference calls or online brainstorming sessions even if they’re not always taking place during your working hours.

Try to keep your work life and your home life separate by setting up an improvised office in your home that you will only use for work and not for leisure. While you’re working, do your best to isolate yourself from noise and non-work-related interruptions. If you can’t find the peace and quiet you need at home but still don’t want to switch to an office job, you should consider renting a coworking space.