Even organizations with the most successful work from home programs confirm that some individuals work better in an office environment than they do from a home office.
What about you? Here are some of the traits I’ve seen that might suggest working from home might not be the best fit for your personality or work style. Strongly reconsider working from home if:
- Your favorite part of work is the friendships and social nature of the workplace. Working from home can be isolating and lonely.
- You don’t have basic computer maintenance and troubleshooting skills. At some point, you will probably be required to identify whether your technical problem is related to software, hardware or internet connectivity without support from your IT help desk. Do you routinely clean up and back up your system? Unless these tasks are as natural to you as brushing your teeth, you might want to reconsider the home option.
- You need external validation for your good work. From time to time, we all want and need to hear from others that we are doing a good job. At the same time if you find yourself regularly reporting on your work so others will recognize your accomplishments, you may miss these rewards.
- You do not have excellent time management, organizational skills and self-discipline. One of the advantages of working from home is that you are less likely to be distracted by others. At the same time, many of us are our own worst enemy around staying focused. Home can have as many distractions as an office if we are not careful. And in reverse, without self restraint you could also end up regularly working 10 – 12 hour days leading to resentment and burnout.
- You do not have an office space that can remain organized and quiet. Working on the kitchen table when the kids come home from school and want a snack may inaccurately communicate to those on your conference call that you are not prepared for serious work.
- You have been told (or suspect) that your email communication is not clear or makes others uncomfortable or angry. Since more of our communication is via email and messaging, we need to be highly sensitive to the impact of our communication on others. Without the ability to fully communicate face to face, and to pick up on the subtle clues around misunderstanding, frustration or anger, we can negatively impact others’ desire to work with us, and not be aware of the impact our communication has on teamwork until significant damage has occurred.
For many people, working from home provides an environment that can eliminate a long commute and provide a quieter, more productive atmosphere with fewer distractions. For others, working from home can seem isolating, poorly directed, and unsupported. And while some of these items are skills that can be developed, others may be fundamental aspects of your personality. If you, or others you know, are considering working from home, keep this checklist in mind to ensure you are both happy and successful in this new environment.
What are your thoughts and experiences? Share them in the comments section.
About the author
Carmela Sperlazza Southers is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. Her posts on increasing organizational, team, and leader effectiveness in the virtual work world appear on the fourth Monday of every month.