I was born to work at home. No…really. I’m very much an introvert. It doesn’t bother me in the least to go the whole day without speaking. I usually have little trouble staying on-task, I don’t like to be “managed,” and I don’t need a lot of feedback. I can’t imagine a better situation for me. But people are different. Working at home can be as challenging for some people as working in a noisy, active office is for me. So how do you know if working at home is right for you? Here are some things to think about.
Do you need to socialize?
Some people need socialization like they need air to breathe. They think by talking; they vet their ideas by bouncing them off co-workers. These are the people who, when they’re working from home, think of an excuse to call the exterminator just to have someone to talk to. If that sounds like you, you probably wouldn’t be happy working from home even if you were good at it. You’re much more likely to thrive in an office environment.
Are you internally motivated?
If you’re constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure your boss doesn’t catch you on Instagram, you’re going to have a hard time getting things done without that prodding. The same is true for deadlines and procrastination: If you have trouble getting motivated until a deadline is breathing down your neck, working from home might not be for you. On the other hand, if you’ve ever put things on your to-do list just so you can have the satisfaction of checking them off, you’ve probably got what it takes to stay focused on your own.
Do you need lots of direction?
If you’re relatively new in your job or industry, this may not be the time to work from home. If you catch your boss for a quick question every time he walks by, you need to realize that those “quick questions” are going to be a lot harder if you’re not actually in the office. If, on the other hand, you’re confident in your abilities and like doing things your own way, working from home could be perfect for you.
Do you need lots of feedback?
Some people like a lot of feedback, either because they’re not confident in their skills or because it keeps them motivated. When it comes to getting feedback, working from home can be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.” It’s not that your work won’t be appreciated, but you’ll be less likely to hear about it just because it will take your boss more effort to reach out to you.
Do you have the ability to say “No”?
One of the biggest challenges to working from home is that friends and family tend to not take your new gig seriously. Your mom is going to call and ask you to go to the grocery store for you. Your best friend is going to call and ask you to go to lunch or meet up for a round of golf. To succeed at working from home, you’ll have to convince your loved ones that your job is indeed a “real” job. If you’re the kind of person who has a hard time saying “no” – especially when people you care about pressure you – you’re going to have a hard time getting anything done.
Do you know when to stop?
Workaholics, beware: If you already tend to take work home with you, you’re going to have a hard time deciding when to quit for the day. Officially, I “quit” when my kids get home from school, but the reality is that I work off and on all the time. I do big projects when I’m home by myself and save quick-hits to knock out between making snacks, helping with homework, and throwing baseballs. For the most part, it works. But then my kids start complaining, and I realize I’ve been doing it too much. If you can’t relax when you know you’ve left something undone, think very carefully about how that’s going to affect your family life.
I love working from home. In fact, there’s not a single thing about it I don’t like. But it’s not for everybody. Before you take the leap, do some soul-searching and ask yourself if you have what it takes to be both successful and happy. Not sure? Try this quiz. The questions are excellent food for thought, but don’t take it too seriously: The answer it gave me was, “Maybe.”