The best part of the sweet job offer you just received? You can work from anywhere! Drafting reports or responding to clients while in your pajamas at home sounds like the ideal situation, yet maintaining self-discipline and avoiding distractions might be harder than you think. Jennifer Gray, principal at Market Street Talent, offers some pros and cons to consider when you find yourself faced with the decision to accept a remote position:
- Eliminating the cost and time spent commuting. A Boston commuter spends, on average, 31.4 minutes commuting each way to work. If you’re in a similar commute situation, you’ll gain enough time to get a full workout in or walk your child to the bus stop by working remotely. You also gain the advantages of spending less money on maintaining your vehicle and avoiding the need to decompress after sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
- No dress code. That’s right; you’ll no longer need that closet full of business outfits (however, keep enough to dress appropriately if you are required to attend client meetings or Skype with your boss). Feel free to wear your favorite yoga pants or torn t-shirt; no one will be the wiser.
- Enjoy the creature comforts of your own home. Working in your home office means you’re surrounded by your own decorating style, listening to the music you prefer (or no music at all), and performing your job duties at a work station specifically designed by you. You can reheat fish in the microwave, turn the heat up to 80 degrees, and open the windows to enjoy some fresh air without hearing complaints from your coworkers.
- Better work/life balance. Prefer to work from 6 am until 2 pm and soaking up the sun on the beach while you respond to emails? Remote work typically doesn’t mean you’re required to work 8am-5pm chained to your home office. Your office becomes wherever you’re working, and you can spend your free time doing whatever it is that will make your life feel more balanced, like coaching your child’s soccer team to practicing yoga during your work breaks.
- Nobody is looking over your shoulder, so if you get the urge to watch that funny YouTube video on full volume or buy those shoes online while in a “meeting,” go ahead.
- You can write off some home expenses, like a percentage of your internet access and electricity (we recommend that you check with your tax consultant first).
- The social aspect of being in an office is missing. There’s something to be said about working in an office among your coworkers. You miss out on bonding experiences from not going out for a group lunch or sharing stories of your weekend adventures.
- Communication is critical. Getting someone’s attention is hard enough in person; but when you need to rely on email or the phone, your communication skills have to be sharp. Even then, you can miss a body language clue that you can only get in person.
- It requires self-discipline as one can be easily distracted by family, the personal to-do list, or the playful puppy at the feet.
- Work is harder to turn off. When you work remotely, it’s easy to slip into the habit of answering emails whenever they arrive, whether that’s at 6:00 am or 11:30 pm. You also don’t have that commuting gap between work and home when you can decompress from the stresses of the day and mentally transition from work to family.
- Space is required. Make sure you have the space to fit the tools you need to do your job properly (e.g., printer, desk, dual monitors, etc.) and that your office is set up in an area where you can concentrate on your work. Your dining room table might have enough room for you to spread your work out, but if your roommates are watching television in the adjoining room, you won’t be able to focus on the task at hand.
Like everything in life, working remotely has its pros and cons. While accepting that remote position might seem like a no-brainer, take the extra time to consider whether or not it’s right for you.