Technology is making working from home a viable option in many industries. And more workers are choosing that option.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, almost half of employed Americans (43 percent) spend some time working remotely. And more than 60 percent of organizations allow some type of teleworking, compared with 20 percent just two decades ago.
Telecommuting has lots of perks, especially for parents. It allows them to spend more time with their families while staying on a career track, retaining an income and holding onto a job they love.
Working remotely, however, isn’t without challenges. They include:
Working from home can be surprisingly isolating. At the end of some days, you may not have spoken to a single human, despite a ton of work correspondence.
Although introverts tend to do better with remote work, extroverts can manage, as long as they schedule social activities after hours, or even during the day: lunch or a coffee meeting, a trip to the gym with a neighbor.
Parents who work from home often feel like they’re falling behind on both fronts.
“Working from home can be laden with all the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ one could possibly imagine, thoughts I guarantee never enter our heads at the office,” said Lori Mihalich-Levin, founder of Mindful Return, a support program for new mothers returning to the workplace from maternity leave.
Such as “I should respond to every e-mail within 12 seconds so everyone knows I’m working. Or, perhaps, I should not take a five-minute break to run downstairs and put the laundry in.”
It’s easy to forget that people who work in office take lunches and coffee breaks, too, and that these things aren’t just OK, they’re necessary.
Develop a work schedule and stick to it. Making a detailed task list — and ticking off your tasks as you complete them — can help you recognize your accomplishments and cut down on guilt.
When you work from home, you work all the time and everywhere. It’s incredibly hard to draw boundaries between your personal space and workspace, and the same goes for your time. You’ve probably taken conference calls in the preschool parking lot, sent messages in the grocery store and checked e-mail in the middle of the night.
It’s crucial to create realistic boundaries by designating times when you are offline (barring an emergency or a deadline). When you are off the clock, stash the phone and computer away.
Our professional identities are often tied to the physical manifestation of an office, colleagues and even work clothes. In absence of that community, it’s important to retain hobbies, get involved in organizations and stay socially connected to avoid feeling like an untethered balloon. Admittedly, it isn’t an easy feat between deadlines, dishes and diapers.
Though working from home is practical and rewarding, it requires discipline and self-awareness to ensure that it works for you.