Image by Betta Living, Flickr
Times have changed. Some companies (mostly younger or entrepreneurial) have begun transitioning from in-office work to work from home cultures, and while at first this may seem to be an ideal, how-can-you-pass-this-up, I-must-work-there opportunity, take a bit of time to think about whether this culture would really match your personality, and ask the questions you need to know.
Working from home is still a fairly new trend, and with that comes a huge stigma that employees who work from home are not really working – they’re lazing around, watching TV, napping, and running errands. Some employers have the mentality that if they can’t see their employees working, they aren’t – and that puts added pressure on the people who do work from home to prove themselves.
So let’s talk about this:
- Save time with no commute
- Save money with no commute, by making lunch and coffee at home
- Have productive lunch breaks by working out, shopping, or prepping for dinner
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Work where you want to (no stuffy cubicles)
- If you have a laptop, option to work from a coffee shop/library
- Enjoy peace and quiet with no office drama
- No face-to-face meetings
- No in-office, professional experience
- Lack of social interaction
- Must keep yourself motivated and limit distractions
- Pressure to be proactive to show employers you’re not just doing the minimum
- Expense reports (if you’re required to use your personal cell phone at home for work calls)
- Employers must be trusting
- If other employees work in the office, must make sure there is no resentment
When I first started my job, I worked in the office five days a week. Now, I work remotely 80% of the time. For my company, it came down to trust. Was I accessible when they instant messaged? Did I respond to emails in a timely manner? Was I available for calls? Was work completed by deadlines? Was I proactive instead of reactive in projects? It was a slow process but has become common for all of us to work remotely a few days a week. This results in a great work-life balance, and there is no resentment among employees if some are in the office and others are remote.
If we need to have an internal company meeting, many times these can be accomplished via conference call. Working late is easier when you’re remote, as there are no issues with catching a train or bus. However, those one to two days a week where everyone is in the office, we take advantage of the face time. It’s often easier to make decisions or explain issues in person.
When deciding if you want to work for a company with this culture, it all comes down to personal preference. I’m a huge advocate of working from home if the employee has the right attitude about it. My commute into the office is just under two hours, includes a bus, a subway, and a streetcar, and costs about $12 per day. By working from home, I get two hours of extra sleep in the morning, am able to fit in a workout before dinner, and drink less coffee. It can get lonely with no social interaction, but for my personality, this isn’t an issue – I’m happy with a quiet atmosphere. If it does get too quiet, I’ll play some music or use my lunch hour to go for a walk, shop, or schedule an appointment.
Most importantly, working from home makes me feel empowered. I’m trusted to do my own work on time and manage my schedule the way it makes sense for me. Feeling empowered makes me motivated to do a better job, which makes me a happy employee – and my employer a happy boss.
That being said, just because this culture fits my lifestyle doesn’t mean it’s right for you. If you’re worried about resisting the TV or craving a social atmosphere, you may prefer to be in the office. You must be self-motivated to work from home, and you must be able to build up the trust of your employer. Working from home is still working – remember, it’s not time off and not something to take advantage of.