For well over a decade now we’ve talked about the advances in technology and how it promotes the advantages and capabilities of working remotely, whether that be from your car, onsite, or even from a home office. Even the condominium and homeowner ( HOA ) management industry has evolved during this technological transition. There are some benefits of working remotely, but also some hazards to be wary of while transitioning to this work/life balance.
(Some of the) Advantages:
1. The style and location of your office is yours to decide. While I recommend placing your office in a part of your home that you do not use for your leisure activities, your office can be anywhere. The use of a spare bedroom may be ideal, but even utilizing a small dinette table in an apartment can also be useful to getting your remote office started. Think about where to place your home office as you would be considering your bedroom location; a quiet place without distractions.
The style of your office is also yours to choose. Whatever motivates you, makes you happy, or provides a sense of peace is all yours to exercise at your own discretion. There are no rules to what you can put in your home office. Sports memorabilia, motivational quotes, cat and/or political posters are all fair game.
In the end, a location and style that is absent of distractions is ideal.
2. Think about the savings. Many of the expenditures exhausted in working in an office are immediately reduced, such as fuel, vehicle, and any transportation expenses associated with commuting. You can also discuss with your car insurance agent about the discounts you may receive with your the severely reduced annual mileage, this is also easily translated to the monthly payments you make for your vehicle if it is leased.
Additionally, there are the reduced costs of lunches, dry cleaning, and maintaining a full and separate wardrobe just for the daily work routine. But don’t let the latter get out of hand as fashions change and you will need to maintain a respectful work attire when necessary.
3. Snow day, show day. I used to enjoy watching my neighbors trudging through 6” of snow, all bundled up in their winter gear clearing their cars and heading out on the slick and icy roads to commute to their offices while I was already starting my day all warm and cozy. Regardless of the weather, accidents, rush hour and traffic jams, etc. you can avoid these without interruption to your production.
4. Flex schedule. Keep in mind that there are two sides to this shiny new coin. Depending on the industry you are in, you may be in a position to create your own schedule, or at the very least, modify your schedule to better suit your own habits to become more efficient. Whether you are a night owl or early riser, you are less bound by the hours kept with your place of employment. Also, you are now in a better position to handle those weekly errands on a more appropriate schedule to avoid the rush. Have to pick up the dry cleaning or get some needed groceries? Go do it and get it done when the crowds are absent. Just be sure to make up that time as to not jeopardize your productivity.
5. Office distractions are now decreased. Time wasting office meetings, the loud chewer 3 cubicles away, the messy breakroom, office politics and gossip, etc. are now a thing of the past.
Yes, you’ll still have meetings to attend, very few that will require actual attendance, but moreover they will be held remotely. No more cramming into a conference room, idling chatting waiting for everyone to sit and prepare for the meeting and engaging in conversations that divert from the meaning of the meeting in the first place. Remotely held meetings tend to be more concise, direct and more efficient as there are limited speakers, less opportunities to divert the meeting off-topic, and certainly less idle chitchatting.
You may still have a messy breakroom and a loud chewer when working remotely, but those are now in your control to address.
(Some of the) Disadvantages:
1. Distractions, distractions, distractions. You have to be disciplined and maintain a proper work schedule and environment. The TV, refrigerator, kids, etc. are just a few things that can be a distraction from your work production.
2. Flex schedule (the other side of our shiny new coin). The tendency to consent to distractions is much higher than in the office. “Since I have more time, I can get to that later.” is very counterproductive to the telecommuter’s independence. Don’t let this get out of hand.
The likelihood that we will have total autonomy or self-governance is quite unlikely and maintaining a schedule relative to your clients, co-workers, supervisors, and office hours will continue to be of importance. I recommend maintaining a similar routine that you held prior to telecommuting. Get up at the same time, get your coffee and news fix, hit the shower, dress, then commute to the office; the commute is just a lot shorter now. Whatever your routine was, try and stick to it. Start your day, take your breaks, and end your day as you would otherwise.
3. Always at home, always at work. This is a tough one. We all know that feeling of leaving the office with unread emails, unfinished projects, etc. In many cases when we leave the office, that’s it, we’re done for the day and it will have to wait until tomorrow. In a home office environment it can seem to never go away and can keep you from truly enjoying your personal and leisure time. The stress can feel like it is always there, and you can fix it by just getting back to work even though it’s late in the evening. But that’s not solving anything for you in the long run.
It’s easier said than done of course, but you will need to separate yourself from work when you are done for the day. Properly locating your home office and establishing a disciplined work schedule will help greatly.
4. Lack of exercise. Sitting is the new smoking right? It may seem silly and you may not have considered this previously, but since you are no longer commuting to and walking in the office, just the act of walking can be greatly reduced by telecommuting. Use your breaks to take a walk, join a health club, use anything that will get you up and walking. Using a pedometer (there are plenty of free apps for your phone) is a great way to self-check yourself to make sure you are getting enough paces in each day.
5.Lack of human interaction. The loud chewer, the office gossiper, and pen-clicker are now gone and most of your human interaction is reduced to emails, texts, phone calls, along with the occasional video conference. This may seem like a wonderful thing, but the PTSD Journal lists many negative effects of social isolation.
Telecommuting can be and is a wonderful transition from the traditional office environment and hours. Reaping the benefits, but realizing the hazards is the true stability in sustaining a proper work/life balance in telecommuting.