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Four Tips to Consider Before Working From Home

Contemplating working from home? Consider these four points.

Whether to accept a role outside an office is becoming an everyday decision for job candidates.  Perhaps you are interviewing with a company whose workforce is primarily made up of employees working from home. Before committing to this path, it’s important to properly evaluate the decision.  Unsure how?  Consider these four critical points.

1. Evaluate the job as you would any other job opportunity.

Whether to accept a position that has you working from home is a tough decision, but it’s important not to let this particular aspect of the job obscure the due diligence you should always do when considering a job. First and foremost, as with any job opportunity, I recommend listing out the pros and cons of the role, including the reputation of the company, salary, benefits, nature of the work, the people, growth potential, and how the role fits into your short-term and long-term goals. Compare this to the other opportunities you're considering. Does this role still rank above the others? Once you've done this, then it’s time to consider the question of working from home.

2. Learn from experience.

Get advice from people who have worked full-time from home.  Start by soliciting advice from people in your network that have experience working from home. Make sure the advice you are considering is coming from someone whose professional opinion you respect. Hearing that "it's always fun to catch Oprah" might not be helpful; however, tapping into the experience of those who've worked from home successfully may be able to get you thinking about things you hadn't initially considered.

3. Ask questions about how the company works without an office.

A lack of an office doesn’t stop the need for teamwork and communication.  Don’t be afraid to ask your contact at the prospective employer about how the company connects without a formal office place.  Specifically, ask how the employees communicate and what does the company do to keep everyone at home engaged? Many companies use instant messaging or Skype to keep remote employees connected, and you should be familiar with how your potential employer manages these connections.

4. Do you have the discipline and personality for working at home?

Once you've gathered some information and outside perspectives, it's time to take a hard look inside yourself and ask the question, “How self-disciplined am I?” Working from home requires a strong self-discipline, focus, and an ability to keep yourself on task and in a routine. If you're someone who can stick to a gym routine without a partner and you don't cut corners in everyday life when no one is watching, then you may very well find success working at home. However, if you need a task master to keep you on target, then you may struggle.

At the same time, even the most self-disciplined extroverts derive energy and inspiration from others around them, and just may need the constant “buzz” of an office to bring out their best work.  Most important, just be honest with yourself before committing to this arrangement.

Working from home can be an exciting opportunity.  Get comfortable with the decision by asking the right questions about the job, company, and yourself.  If you're excited about the opportunity, you've taken to heart suggestions from those whom you respect, and you're confident in your self-discipline, then it might be time to move out to the home office.

Photo Credit: Businessweek