Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Pros & Cons of Working From Home

By Debbie Hall, Career Coach

Although, people have worked from home for decades, I believe the mobile workforce was born in the early 1990s when the IBM Thinkpad was launched. As an IBM employee at the time, I was enchanted with my brand new monochrome Thinkpad and starry-eyed with the prospect of being able to work from home whenever I wanted to or needed to.  Here’s what I learned over the course of almost 20 years of being a mobile employee:

The Good News is this:
·         You can work in casual clothes with no-make up and your hair a mess.
·         You can save dollars on your wardrobe and eating lunch out.
·         Your mileage and gas expense are reduced.
·         You can throw a load of laundry in the washer or do other household chores as a break.
·         You can iron while listening to a conference call.
·         You can exercise during the day without worrying about going back to the office.
·         You can snack all day.
·         You can flex your time to meet the demands of your family.
·         Your significant other and your children know where to find you.

The Bad News is this:
·         You can feel isolated and detached from your co-workers.
·         You forget to go outside.
·         Your office is open 24X7 so you are always checking email or working whether you’re on your computer or phone.
·         Your significant other and your children know where to find you.
·         Your air conditioning bill will increase.
·         You have to buy office furniture.

My advice to mobile employees is this:

·         Get out of the house a few times a week to meet a co-worker or friend for lunch this will help reduce the feeling of isolation particularly if you live alone.
             If you have an office that you can go to, plan to work from there at least occasionally so people will remember you. 

·         Have “water cooler” chats using instant messaging tools.

·         Invest in a good head set with a mute button and/or speaker phone. There’s nothing worse than being on a conference call and hearing a toilet flush, babies crying, and/or dogs barking.

·         Invest in a good chair, desk light, and other accessories so you’re comfortable.

·         Set limits on interruptions from your significant other and children.  Use a door sign or hand signal to let them know when you’re focused and can’t be interrupted. If you have a door use it!

·         Enjoy the flexibility but at the same time remember to stop working and give yourself time to relax and enjoy some personal time every day.

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