People always tell me how lucky I am that I have the opportunity to work from home. And I agree, for the most part. But working from home is not sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies. I’ve had to re-learn working in a virtual environment. It’s a different ball game. While I do love getting to fold a load of laundry while on a conference call, my life can be totally unbalanced while I work from home. And I’ve seen many a co-worker crash and burn when moving from the corporate office to the home office.
You may have thought of your office as distracting with water cooler conversations, idle hallway chit-chat, and that one person who always manages to burn the popcorn in the breakroom microwave. But just wait until you are at home with a whole new set of distractions.
There’s the sink full of dishes, a toilet that needs scrubbing, Judge Judy, and kids that need entertaining. Believe me, as soon as your mother hears you work from home, she’ll be calling everyday to chit-chat too. So before you start daydreaming about converting your spare bedroom into a home office, think long and hard about your own work habits, your company’s structure, and your manager’s preferences.
- Are you a top-performing employee?
- Are you easily distracted?
- Is your company global or local?
- Are your meetings face to face? Or conference calls?
- Does your manager ever work from home?
- Do you have the equipment to work from home? Laptop, cellphone, internet connection, and VPN are the bare minimums.
- Does your company have a telecommuting policy?
- How many days a week would be ideal for working from home?
I’ve been the most successful at working from home when I’ve worked for companies that are global-minded. At my current company, my manager works near Sacramento (2.5 hrs from where I live), my director lives in London, and the rest of the team is scattered around the world. To be a successful team, we all have to virtually make it work. It’s not about the 1:1 face time. It’s about being responsive to email, about being open to travel, and willing to work at 6am for Europe while still attending the 8pm call with China.
Before you barge into your manager’s office demanding a new flexible schedule, take a moment to think about the questions above. We’ll discuss more next week - including how to make the pitch to your manager.