Telecommuting is one of the most rewarding ways to explore and expand your professional life, but how do you know if working remotely is right for you? Read on to discover seven red flags that could signal you may not be the telework type.
It is an exciting time to cultivate a career through remote work, and this excitement can lead professionals to jump into telecommuting, only to discover it is not what they expected. While is necessary to take risks in your career to spur growth and challenge yourself to reach your highest potential, you should also have a landing strategy. Careful calculations are the key to making the most of your career ventures, telework included.
Although you may want to work from home, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Your personality, industry, and life structure will play a large role in whether or not remote work will be suitable for your success.
It is easier than you think to decide if you should invest in a new home office setup, or if in-office work is the best way to advance your career. If these seven quotes resonate with you, it’s possible you may not be the telework type. However, if you are dedicated to trying out a flexible work schedule, you can use the quick fixes we’ve outlined as starting points to make the necessary changes to your life and perspective to facilitate success as a telecommuter.
1. “My housemates and I all have different working hours”
Much like traditional work environments, telework requires a consistent schedule. If you live with your family or friends, noise and distraction can limit productivity. Staying focused can be particularly difficult if your home office is located in a shared living space your housemates use a revolving door between work and play.
If you do not have control over the noise and distractions in your workspace, it may be better for you to remain in a traditional office environment. True, working onsite is not without distractions, but most of the conversation will center on work.
Quick Fix: You can make telecommuting work, even with a full house, but you have to establish house rules. Have a meeting with your housemates to discuss your new work arrangement. Ask that everyone respect quiet hours and be mindful of noise when at home during the day. If private home office space is limited, create a workstation in a corner of your bedroom instead of in a shared space such as the living or dining room.
2. “My family loves to visit often.”
Do you have extended family who loves to drop in unannounced? This can cause major delays in your work schedule. It is crucial to carve out time for work, especially if you have a full-time remote position. If you are frequently interrupted by family stopping in, and find yourself re-arranging your schedule more than once or twice per week to accommodate surprise visits, the telecommuting lifestyle will be a stressful one for you to manage. A steady routine is paramount when it comes to being successful in a virtual workplace.
Quick Fix: Practice open communication with your family. Even with the ones we love, it is necessary to set clear boundaries. Let your family know that despite being at home you won’t be available for nonwork-related activities during work hours. Also, ask them to let you know at least three to four weeks in advance if they’re planning to visit.
3. “I thrive in social environments.”
Humans are naturally social creatures, however, extraverts tend to get their energy from human interaction and often do their best work in an office setting surrounded by people. If you know that you have an extroverted personality, it may be difficult for you to get what you need to do your best work as a remote employee or contractor.
Quick Fix: Consider negotiating a flexible schedule that allows you to work both at home and onsite. This will allow you to reap the benefits of reduced commute times and stress without feeling as though you’re missing out the buzzing work culture at your company. Another alternative is to work from a co-working space or local coffee shop. Working in shared or public spaces gives you the feeling of community and the flexibility to choose where you work each day.
4. “I find it difficult to stay consistent with my daily schedule.”
There is no way around self-discipline for remote workers. Without a consistent effort, you will not gain the desired results from your work. If you are easily distracted, or simply find self-motivation a difficult skill to master, working from home will be a major challenge. Although it is perfectly normal to have days that you get behind on a particular task, or need to reschedule a meeting if you find that you regularly end your day with multiple unchecked boxes on your to-do list, virtual work may not provide the structure you require to shine.
Quick Fix: To improve discipline, start with an easy morning routine you can stick with for 30 days. Building positive habits reinforce consistency and can help you spread this energy to other areas of your life, like your daily work schedule.
5. “I’ve never held a steady job in my field.”
As a beginner in any industry, it is important to seek regular feedback from more experienced professionals. Building a strong network takes time and managers are more likely than other employees to work in-office. This may mean that for the first few years of your career, you should consider working onsite.
Remote work requires you to be able to problem-solve by finding innovative ways to use the tools at your disposal. If you are just beginning to put industry-specific mechanisms in place, remote work could make it difficult and counter-productive to channel the creativity you need to succeed.
For example, as a junior graphic designer asked to make changes to a project, you may require several rounds of feedback before the assignment is perfected. Virtually conducting this on-the-job training could be frustrating for both you and your supervisor. This is why many remote positions generally require three to five years of experience.
Quick Fix: Consider telework for a side hustle. Dedicating a few hours each week to an independent project could help you expand your remote work tool belt and strengthen your digital communication skills. Experiment with cloud-based storage and increase knowledge of your industry-specific tools to help you prepare for the day you can take your skills into the remote job market.
6. “My home life is chaotic.”
Although many caretakers find remote work to have a positive influence on their work-life balance, there are some positions that cannot be done well while caring for a young child or balancing adult care.
If your personal life is chaotic, trying to work remotely in a phone-based job or in a position such as sales that requires you to be available for a set block of hours could spell disaster for your professional goals. Without sufficient support, childcare or assistance, your chats or sales calls could be disrupted by frequent noise and mini-emergencies that require your immediate attention several times a day.
Quick Fix: Consider a remote position that allows you to complete a set number of tasks by a deadline, but does not require a fixed number of hours per day. It is crucial to think about the unique circumstances of your life, such as tending to the needs of small children or attending frequent doctors appointments, before you commit to a remote position. Only consider virtual options that reduce your stress, rather than add to it.
7. “I tend to get so focused on my work that I have trouble balancing my other responsibilities.”
Although a recent study indicates that 65 percent of employees think working from home would increase work performance, stretching yourself too thin is the easiest way to limit your productivity. If you find yourself working past dinner or staying up late to work on projects, you could be putting your health at risk. Working from home doesn’t mean working all the time. Setting clear boundaries between professional and personal time is a skill you must develop, and if you are currently lacking in this area, you could run into burnout. Burnout can jeopardize your performance and damage your ability to advance in your career by negatively impacting how you see your work. Prolonged burnout can even lead to health concerns.
Quick Fix: Respect your schedule. Decide in advance what your working hours are, although it is ok to work late one or two days a week, limit yourself by setting a daily alarm and stepping away from your desk as soon as it sounds. Training your brain to control the impulse to continue working into your leisure time will help you keep the same discipline when it comes to getting your projects completed within your normal work hours.
Remote Work Can Work For Anyone
Although you may not be perfectly suited for telecommuting right now, this doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Assess the areas of your life in need of improvement, be it discipline, time management, or setting boundaries, and make a plan to develop those skills. Devoting just a few hours each week to a small goal for self-improvement will add up to a big payoff down the road.
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