Working from home is more common than ever before, thanks to continuous advances in internet technology. For some, it seems like the perfect arrangement – work from home, sleep in a bit, no commute…however, telecommuting isn’t always a perfect option. This is especially true in fields where face-to-face interaction is a key part of your job. There are several arguments to be made both for and against telecommuting, and we cover both in separate articles. After reading this analysis regarding the positives of remote working, be sure to read this article in order to see the other side of that equation.
Telecommuting is more popular than ever before. Nearly 24% of the workforce engages in some kind of remote work, up from just 2.3% in 1980. Advocates for telecommuting will sell you on the idea of personal comfort, greater autonomy, and no commute. While these are certainly compelling reasons to work from home, there are some very real downsides to excising yourself from the office. You’re effectively isolating yourself from your coworkers and bosses, and you miss out on being a tangible part of a team; while you may want to do this depending on what your workplace environment is like, that can foster a sense of alienation and resentment down the line.
As ideal as this arrangement seems, you’re being entrusted to do your job without direct oversight from a supervisor. There is a possibility that it could backfire on you.
1) You effectively become invisible to your team
Building close relationships with your coworkers is a process that naturally happens over time. When you share the same struggles, perform the same duties, and complain about the same boss, a sense of camaraderie gradually develops. If you work from home, you miss out on all of that. These social engagements are where friendships are forged, and people who don’t attend wind up being isolated from their team. This is especially true if you’re looking to form a good rapport with your boss – many workers put themselves on the radar by sharing a drink and having a good conversation with their boss at a party.
2) You risk pigeonholing yourself
Not all jobs can be performed remotely. Virtually all blue-collar work requires you to be physically present in the workplace to do your job, as do customer service jobs and management roles. Telecommuting works for some white-collar positions, but it becomes increasingly difficult (or unfeasible) to do as you work your way up the ladder. If you insist on working from home, you risk shutting yourself out from promotions or raises. Being able to advance in the company requires you to be physically present, sometimes at a moment’s notice; if you show an unwillingness to appear on a regular basis, you’ll likely be passed over in favor of somebody who shows up at the office every day.
3) Communication with your boss and team becomes more difficult
When you’re physically present in your workplace, communication with your team and boss is relatively easy. Working from home makes this task more difficult. Oftentimes, workplaces will have employees sit down in meetings to go over a new strategy, plan, or project. While some places let you attend these meetings remotely, your ability to meaningfully contribute to these sessions is more limited than if you were physically present. Referencing the previous point, it might also make you look as though you are not contributing as much to the overall team effort. Collaborating with a team is made more difficult when half of its people aren’t even there to brainstorm ideas and give feedback.
Receiving meaningful feedback from your boss is also made more complicated. You’ll always have somebody to report to regardless of where you work, but working from home makes it less likely that your boss is even aware of what you do, let alone any meaningful accomplishments or contributions that you make to the team. It’s easier for your boss to recognize what you do when they actually see you doing it.
The above reasons are not necessarily deal-breakers: they only represent one side of the coin. Telecommuting does indeed make sense for some people in certain professions, and there are several arguments to be made in favor of it. The counterpart to this article will help you make an informed choice when deciding to telecommute or not.