The Downside of Telecommuting
When I tell people I work remotely for my job I often get the following reactions:
“That’s awesome! How cool that you can work in your pajamas if you want to!”
“I wish I could telecommute, my drive to work takes forever.”
“Working from home must be so cool. I’d jump at the chance to do that.”
Don’t get me wrong. Working from my home office definitely has its perks. I no longer have to endure over fifteen hours of commute time every week like I used to do. I’m always home in time to have dinner with my family. And if my son is home sick from school, it’s a lot easier to manage.
With that said, there are definitely some downsides.
I never leave the office. Not because I’m shackled to my job, but because my home IS my office. In other words, there’s no real physical boundary. So often I create my own. I will put my devices and my laptop in my home office and close the door during family time like dinner and bedtime.
There’s no one else’s energy to feed or feed off of. When I worked in a large office of over 150 people downtown, you could almost feel a buzz in the air, especially when we’d get close to project launch dates or if we just won a big pitch. There’s something to be said about a physical high five, a wide-eyed expression excitement, and when one needs a little extra encouragement, a sympathetic and supportive look in the eye. For me, I really miss some of that non-verbal communication and high energy of having colleagues in proximity. However, phone calls, emails, and instant messages are a great way to communicate both formally and for casual conversation with virtual colleagues, sometimes though it takes extreme skill to make sure your words come across with the same tone and intent that would be obvious in person, but not so much otherwise.
Feeling part of the larger world. Sometimes even if one reaches thousands every day through blogs, tweets, Facebook, and email newsletters, telecommuters can still feel extremely isolated and lonely. It’s amazing what getting out of the home office and visiting a co-working space, coffee shop, or even inviting another telecommuting friend over to work across your dining room table can do. I find myself volunteering to run more family errands because of the human interaction it allows for me.
Obviously, these aren’t challenges that can’t be overcome and worked around. It just requires a little creativity and at times, a lot of patience. With less distractions I find my productivity levels are higher than they were when I worked in a large office and definitely don’t miss my commute (did I mention I don’t miss my commute?) Plus, I have a lot more flexibility with schedule, so if I have a personal obligation I can make up for those hours in the evening.
Do you telecommute? What challenges you the most about working remotely and how do you overcome those challenges?