Do you have what it takes?
Telecommuting successfully depends on the right mix of many variables including the right jobs/tasks, people, organizations, and home-office settings. Here are a number of the factors that can help you decide whether you have what it takes to be a good candidate for telecommuting.
Do you have a good understanding of telecommuting?
Do you have an appreciation of telecommuting, its' pros and cons, and the demands it may make on you and your organization? Are you prepared to learn more about it, and possibly even take some training?
Do you have the right job?
How much of your work, or part of your work, is portable? How much face-to-face contact do you require with people at the office? Does your job require ongoing access to equipment, materials, and files that are situated only at the workplace?
How good are you at your job?
How familiar are you with your work? Do you know your job well enough to keep working without the need to check with the supervisor at every stage of a project? Do you have a history of reliable and responsible job performance?
Do you have the right home office environment?
Does your home have a separate room or area that is quiet, safe, and insulated from domestic activities and other distractions? Do you have the work tools necessary to do your job, such as a computer, remote-access capability and ergonomically acceptable furniture? Would members of the household allow you to work without interruption?
Are you comfortable with IT?
Computer literacy is a mandatory skill for almost every telecommuter. How comfortable with your computer, its software, email, and remote access capabilities are you? Do you always rely on your tech support to resolve even the smallest of problems, or are you able to fix some of them on your own? How familiar are you with commonly available telephone options?
Do you have the right boss and organizational culture?
Is your boss generally flexible and supportive of employee needs to balance work with personal life? Does your boss trust your integrity and professionalism? Does your boss tend to evaluate performance by results rather than by the clock or 'face time'? Is your organization generally supportive of flexible work arrangements, including telecommuting?
Are you an effective communicator?
Are you adept at communicating quickly and effectively with your supervisor, office colleagues and clients? Would you be prepared to 'up' your level of communication to ensure that you, your supervisor and your colleagues are all on the "same page"?
Are you self disciplined, motivated and organized?
At the office, it's fairly easy to develop the discipline to go back to work after a break. As a telecommuter, this may be a problem unless you are self-motivated, self-disciplined, and able to focus on the work to be done. Do you have a proven track record of personal motivation and being able to stay on course without direct supervision? How easily are you distracted by TV, the kids, doing things around the house, visiting with neighbors, and yes, even the fridge?
Do you have social independence skills?
Some people have no trouble working on their own. Others need the social interaction with office colleagues, and may feel lonely or isolated working at home for long stretches of time (even with keeping in touch with the office by phone, e-mail, etc.)
Are you susceptible to overwork?
With work so accessible around the clock, many telecommuters find it difficult to know when to quit their workday. Unchecked, this can lead to reduced productivity and stress-related illnesses. Do you have a tendency to overwork?
Do you see telecommuting as a way to balance work and other roles?
If allowed to telecommute, would you be prepared to dedicate 100% of your attention to your work during working hours? Or do you see telecommuting as a way to combine your work while taking care of children, elders, or sick people? If you do, you are not likely to be the best candidate for telecommuting.