Are you tired of the daily commute to work and all of the office politics? Do you think that telecommuting is the answer to all of your problems?
It is quite possible that telecommuting may be just what you need, although it is also possible that you will find that it is not all it is cracked up to be. Right now I am in a situation where I have the flexibility to telecommute on an “as needed” basis and lately I have been feeling that I have the need every day of the week.
There are many factors that will determine whether telecommuting is the right option for you, including things such as the type of work that you do and even your personality. Some people find that they do not enjoy telecommuting at all while others feel they were born for telecommuting.
In the time that I have been telecommuting, I have come up with the following pros and cons which might help you in your decision making process.
Pros of Telecommuting
- Lack of Commute. When you only have to walk a few feet to your office, you will save yourself the time and stress of commuting to the office. There are days where it can take me over 2 hours to drive to work (as it did today) and having the ability to eliminate that from my day makes telecommuting very attractive.
- More Family Time. With the time saved by not having a lengthy commute to work, you will find that you have much more time to spend with your family. Even if your commute is only 30 minutes, that is one more hour per day that you can be home with your family. In addition, you will have opportunities to have lunch with your family or see them during your short breaks.
- Cost Savings. By working from home you can reduce or eliminate costs such as vehicle maintenance, gasoline, wardrobe, daycare and meals. You may even be able to eliminate the need for a car, which can further increase your savings. When I calculate the annual costs of simply commuting to work, telecommuting looks like a slam dunk.
- Relaxed Atmosphere. You can work in your underwear or take your laptop out on the patio to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight. When you are telecommuting, you will have less interruptions from co-workers and you’ll avoid much of the stress that is often floating around the office.
- Flexibility. Depending on your situation, your manager may only be concerned with the end results and that your work is completed on time and is of expected quality. That is the approach from my manager, which means I am afforded the flexibility of putting in my time at various hours of the day or night depending on other demands.
Cons of Telecommuting
- Lack of Social Interaction. When you work from home, you lose the ability to walk down the hall and stop by a co-workers office for a discussion. Break times, including lunch, will often be spent alone as opposed to enjoying the company of your co-workers. Spending an entire day without social interaction can be difficult to endure.
- Career Visibility. You’ve likely heard the saying “out of sight, out of mind” and when you work from home, you lose the face time with your co-workers and supervisors. Even though you may continue to deliver superb results, you may find that you are overlooked for special projects or promotions because you are not there in front of everyone on a daily basis.
- Separate Work and Life. While you no longer have a commute, working at home can make it difficult to leave work at work. When your office is right there in your house it can be very tempting to jump on the computer to check email or perform other work-related tasks.
- Longer Hours. Telecommuting can easily lead to you working longer hours than when you are in the office. You’ll be battling the perceptions of your co-workers that you cut out early every day and be inclined to work later. It is also quite common to be worried that you are missing an important announcement or request and you will be checking email more frequently and before you know it you have less time with your family than when you worked at the office.
- Distractions. There are many temptations in your home that can easily distract you from work. You can watch television. You can mow the lawn. You can make 45 trips to the refrigerator for snacks. You can play with the kids. Working from home requires discipline and commitment from everyone in your house.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I’m currently in a flexible situation where I can work from home when needed and I have found that I really enjoy telecommuting. There are times that I still struggle with some of the negative aspects of telecommuting, such as working longer hours, but overall it has worked well for me.
I’m interested to hear about your experiences. What are the pros and cons of telecommuting as you see them?