Working in a Virtual World

I work in a virtual office; Site5 has no physical office. The “old” term was telecommuting but has morphed into “working from home” and remote workforces. Virtual offices present many advantages from the company perspective, but what about the employees? In doing this for over 3.5 years, I can say with certainty that working remotely is not for everyone. Why though?

It takes discipline.

Working from home takes a lot (and I mean a lot) of discipline from not just myself but from Monica, Katie Lynn, Karyn as well as my family and friends.

There’s many distractions at home. The trash needs to be taken out. The dishes don’t wash themselves. Someone has to fold the laundry. It’s very easy to let the mind wander throughout the day since the distractions are *right there* staring you in the face. When family members are home during work hours, it is quite easy to be distracted by short conversations here and there or to be interrupted by two daughters that don’t fully understand that daddy’s working. Even though I work from home, I’m still working.. meaning there should be no distinction to other people, but that doesn’t always happen.

Separation of home and work.

This isn’t easy for some people – myself included. The lines are blurred when you work from home. I find myself, quite frequently actually, working after work. After Katie Lynn and Karyn go to bed, if Monica and I are just relaxing on the couch, it’s so easy to just do some work. With some remote jobs, that’s not always possible to do. But since mine has a task/project emphasis, it’s quite easy to *just work* when relaxing. And often times, I’ll find that I get so much done “after hours” to the point where it’s easier to just wait until the night to do things on purpose.

Adult Interaction

Working remotely severely lessons interaction with other adults. During the week, most of the adult interaction I get is with my wife naturally. The only other adult interaction I get regularly are the teachers at my daughter’s school (since I drop them off in the mornings) and other parents of kids there that I know. That’s it. Of course, if we have plans on evening during the week, there’s more.. but that’s not a regular occurrence. There’s no in-person office experience, no water cooler talk, no break room to eat lunch together, etc..  and I really do miss that.

Equipment Responsibilty

Working in a completely virtual office (as opposed to the occasional telecommute setup), I am responsible for having a suitable computer, reliable Internet connection, etc. Granted, some companies may cover some of those costs and some may not, and if not, it’s an added expense if something were to happen to my primary computer. That’s not really an issue though since I’d need a new computer anyways if my primary laptop died. But it’s different from a traditional office setting where a computer breaking is the company’s responsibility to repair/replace.

Conclusions

In my opinion, it takes real commitment to be able to work from home effectively. The distractions can easily overwhelm someone if they’re not completely focused on the work at hand, but there’s obvious benefits from being able to work from home and I love that I’m able to do it.