Posted October 15, 2008 by

Career Advice: Can You Work at Home Successfully?

The idea of working from home, empowered by telecommuting technology, is
enticing. But can you achieve your career goals in this mode?
No doubt about it, on this career path there are no hard and fast hours, no
bosses looking over your shoulders, no time wasted or cost incurred
commuting. You can enjoy the comfort of working in a wam-up suit and running
shoes instead of a tie or high heels. Snacks are ready in the frig. You can
take an after-lunch nap.
And it’s environmentally responsible. It’s been estimated that if only five
percent of workers in the Los Angeles area worked at home, some 200 million
miles of driving would be eliminated each year, saving about 10 million
gallons of fuel and reducing the amount of pollutants dumped in the air by
50,000 tons.
Employers can expand geographically, even into foreign countries, without
taking on the added overhead of expanding facilities in new locations.
It’s no surprise that with advances in high tech tools such as
tele-conferencing and networking, more employers and employees are adopting
the practice.


IS WORKING AT HOME FOR EVERYBODY?
All of this sounds very inviting but is it for everybody? Would you be as
happy and as productive? Does tele-commuting fit your career path?
Do you have the discipline to roll out of bed on time and put in a normal
day’s work when the boss is not there to check on you? Will you miss being
with associates, working on projects, meetings in the hallway and around the
water cooler? Could you fight off the temptation to postpone an assignment
in order to watch a soap opera or sports on TV? Or wait until the end of the
workday to go to the supermarket? Can you push off friends who can’t
understand you are really working?
What happens to new ideas and the power of synergism that come from people
working side by side? What about productivity?
“Some of our best ideas, our fun conversations, come from spontaneity,
working in a big open office and chitchat,” states Tory Johnson, CEO of
Women For Hire.
“Telecommuters can find themselves out of the loop, be it work-related on
even a bit of gossip that everyone else is sharing, no matter how hard the
entire staff works at keeping everyone in touch,” declares Ms. Johnson.
Managers can feel constricted in keeping track of hours actually worked and
progress being made on assignments.
On the other hand, “Contrary to the concept that workers are prone to slack
off when they’re not in the office, (employees) have a financial incentive
to make telecommuting work,” says Eric Buntin, managing director of a World
of Work study. “They’re likely to work harder at home to keep the
arrangement. The key is productivity.”
It’s a good idea to think twice before opting to switch to working alone at
home. Managers and those who report to them have to find new styles and
attitudes and new disciplines to make assignments and insure accountability.
Ramon Greenwood.pngArticle by, Ramon Greenwood, a career counselor with common sense advice on how to achieve your career goals. To subscribe to Ramon Greenwood’s free semi-monthly newsletter and blog, go to Common Sense at Work Ramon’s take-it-to-the bank advice comes from a world of experience, including serving as Senior Vice President of American Express, an entrepreneur, professional director, career coach and author.

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