When the idea of working from home is brought up, many employees immediately see only the positive aspects of this professional arrangement. I want to take a few minutes to discuss the possible negative effects so that you can decide if telecommuting is a wise decision for you and your professional goals.

From my experience, I see that there are certain people that are personally equipped to work from home. These people share three characteristics:

1) Strong time management skills
2) Internal motivation
3) Organized systems in place

If you do not have these traits and skills, I would recommend you carefully consider your decision before committing to telecommuting. Are you willing to make the changes necessary for this transition to be successful?

  • Are there classes you could take for time management training?
  • What techniques can you use to reward yourself, or who can you designate as an accountability partner to help you stay on track?
  • Is there someone you could hire to help you set up an organized workspace?
  • If you do have these skills, I would suggest you take a look at your personal and business philosophy. There are several point to assess in determining if working from home is likely to be a successful switch for you:

    1) Maintain your professional manner.

    Working from home might tempt you to wake up, get a cup of coffee, fire up the computer, sit down, and begin working in your pajamas. This outward appearance will likely lead to decreased productivity if you already struggle with internal motivation.

    2) Set up Work Hours.

    A late start can lead to decreased productivity. In addition, it might be tempting to take longer breaks and lunches, which again cause lower productivity. On the other end, it can also mean working later into the night without a stopping point, which will cause stress and exhaustion.

    3) Limit personal activities during your work hours.

    When working from home, you will be tempted to take care of personal business (such as housekeeping, paying bills, spending time with your family, etc). While your personal affairs will be handled in a timely manner, your work output will diminish due to these distractions. You may end up working late to catch up with what did not get done during the day.

    Working from home can be very rewarding. You can get more rest without the commuting, undergo less stress by working at your own pace, and even save some money on gas and clothing!

    If you know that you struggle with some of the areas that I outlined, it does not mean you cannot work from home. Being aware of your weaker points is the first step. Then find ways to compensate.