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To Do or Not To Do – Quitting Your Full Time Job to Work from Home: CONS

To Do or Not To Do – Quitting Your Full Time Job to Work from Home: CONS

In our earlier post, we wrote about the advantages of working from home. However, working from home is surely not as easy as it may seem to be and it is not recommended for everybody. In this post we point out a few scenarios where work from home may not be the best option for you. By no means do we intend to confuse you. In fact, we hope these two posts together will bring some clarity to help you make an informed decision. Here are some reasons as to why it may be wiser for you to not quit your full time job to work from home.

1. Not for ‘procrastinators’ – If thinking of getting down to work reminds you of the tap that needs to be fixed, the room that needs to be cleaned and the cake that needs to be baked, admit that you are a ‘procrastinator’. Working from home will only make you procrastinate even more. To be able to work from home, you need to constantly motivate yourself, you won’t have other colleagues or your boss to do that for you, and need to be extremely self-disciplined. This is perhaps one of the greatest flip sides, that you may descend into the land of slackers and never recover!

2. Not for workaholics – If you are the opposite of what a procrastinator is, a go-getter and a workaholic, this may not be quite the right option for you either since you will have no office hours to limit your work to and will end up working crazy hours because you know your home is your work place. As a result, you will neglect your family, and/or have no social life at all.

3. You miss out on networking and office fun – One of the greatest disadvantages of working from home is that there will be far lesser or no opportunities at all for networking. In the process you end up losing out on knowing a lot of resourceful and interesting people. Also, there will be no scope for water cooler conversations and the office camaraderie, unless you plan on talking to your water cooler back home, which we explicitly forbid, since it would creep your dog out. You wouldn’t want that to happen since he might be the only company you’ve got!

4. There will be no office to ‘escape’ to – You chose work from home to be closer to your family, and to be a more responsible person who takes care of both family as well as work. However, what you probably don’t realize is staying at home 24*7 might get very depressing either because of isolation or because of having to give constant attention to people/things. In that case, office would at least give you a few hours away from home to help you recharge. Once you choose on working from home, you would no longer have that option.

5. Distractions – Yelling kids, needy pets, the constantly ringing door bell. Telephone ringing off the hook. Neighbour’s television. Your own temptations to take afternoon naps or swims, or simply to finish that “un-put-downable” book! There will be distractions galore if you work from home and it takes a very strong mind to ignore these, keep calm and continue working.

Besides, there is also the all-important “money” factor.  In some cases, opting for a work-from-home option may mean taking a substantial cut in the compensation. Most companies have not yet realized the full potential of offering remote or flexible working options and see this option as a soft or unnecessary perk (there are some companies too who reward their employees for opting for this option as it leads to considerable capex and opex savings for them).

If you feel the cons are nothing you have to worry about and the pros far outweigh them, we wish you all the very best. If you feel that the pros are not worth it, and having a full time job is much better for you, we wish you all the very best too! However, if you are still confused, we urge you to write to us and we will do our best to walk you through your confusions. Here is wishing you happy confusions! 🙂


To Do or Not To Do – Quitting Your Full Time Job To Work From Home: Pros

To Do or Not To Do – Quitting Your Full Time Job To Work From Home: Pros

With the work from home trend gaining wider acceptance, it is no longer regarded as a ‘soft’ option.  If you hate starting your Monday morning stuck in a bumper to bumper traffic jam, dreading the company of annoying co-workers, this option may work out perfectly for you. However, like everything that sounds too good to be true, this too comes with some fine print conditions. Before making up your mind to quit your full-time job to work from home, make sure you have assessed the pros and cons in detail. Over the next two posts, we introduce you to some reasons why work from home may be the best option for you, and some reasons as to why it may not work for you. Happy reading!

1. More Flexibility: You will be able to work at your own pace, more or less. If you have kids or pets to look after this may be a great option for you. You can tend to your household chores in your self-awarded work breaks, and will be able to spend more time with your family. You may work in your jammies if you feel like it, no one will ask you not to. You can even binge eat while you work (maybe not such a great idea!). Essentially, you will have a lot more freedom in planning and executing your schedule.

2. No Commuting: This may be nothing short of a blessing for many of us who detest wasting hours of our precious time amidst blaring horns and toxic air. Working from home would mean saving those hours wasted stuck on the road. In other words, your life decisions will not have to be planned according to the “rush hours”.

3. Family Time: If you’ve always felt like you are constantly having to cut down on your family time because of your crazy work hours, you will now have more time to spend with your family. Work can get very stressful when your mind is constantly on what is happening back home, if your kids or your aging parents are fine and safe. This way, you will know for sure they are fine, can keep an eye on them and still get your work done.

 4. Economical: Working from home can help you save a lot of cash. You will save on transport expense, wardrobe expenses, food and unnecessary expenses because of workplace obligations (lunches, birthdays of people you don’t even know). Moreover, if you happen to be the founder of your own start up, working from home will also mean not having to pay the cost/rent for a whole separate establishment. You can manage your company or team remotely with as much ease or even more.

 5. Privacy: Once again, a lot of us simply long for this to become a reality for us. In a previous post, we mentioned how being “cubicled” is a “professional reality”. Working from home could be a boost for your productivity since you will not have to entertain or deal with annoying and nosy co-workers who keep inhibiting your progress through their nagging presence! You can work peacefully at your desk (or your own favourite work zone) and in an environment, familiar to you.

Hold on before you make the decision already, wait for our next post on maybe why quitting your full time job to work from home may not be that great an idea after all!

Business Operations Performance Metrics: Employee Satisfaction – Five Leadership Tips to Lead Remote Teams with Ease

Business Operations Performance Metrics: Employee Satisfaction – Five Leadership Tips to Lead Remote Teams with Ease

Employee turnover or attrition is one of the biggest factors that limit an organization’s growth trajectories. With the pressure on margins and the competition for talent, it makes a lot of sense to explore and implement strategies that work as well as or better than financial benefits to attract and retain top talent and increase their productivity. One such benefit is to offer work life flexibility to your people, call it remote work, virtual work, mobile work, telework or telecommuting, work from home – it essentially means moving work to your staff rather than moving your staff to work. In a recent article in HBR by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, she shared some interesting statistics – when surveyed about the possibility of working remotely, 83% of Millennials and 75% of Boomers say that the freedom to choose when and where they work motivates them to give 110%.

Common sense and multiple surveys tell us that remote working is a win-win situation for both organizations and employees – why has this mode then not been adopted more widely?  One key reason is that managers and employers are not really comfortable extending this mode of working. There is a certain reluctance arising from the fear that there will be an impact on productivity levels if people are not there working right in front of you. I have worked in a remote mode and have managed geographically dispersed remote teams for most of my career – and have found a greater than 25% increase in productivity and efficiency levels for both myself and my teams. Working remote is a responsibility – and I have written about the worker aspect of it in my earlier post. Today’s post is focused on the leadership responsibilities of the manager and or employer on making working from anywhere, anytime effective.

Leadership Tip #1: Engage – Communication at all levels and through all available channels is key to success in connecting the “isolated” team members and bringing them together as a team. This is not about the technology and tools (of which a myriad variety is available today) but about the basic steps to create an emotional connection. Listen, converse, and reach out often to build a rapport with your team members and a shared environment of trust. Create frameworks and processes for communication, decision-making and problem solving for your team with guidelines on how, when and where people can interact with each other to set the expectations and the pattern.  Mailing lists, weekly one-on-one calls or meetings, chat sessions, social media sharing all help bring people together.

Leadership Tip #2: Empower – Micromanagement of tasks and depending on physical proximity to keep track of your team is of course no longer a possibility here (and should not be so even in regular work environments). So let go the old style of leadership and move to outcome based leadership. It’s all about trust. Give autonomy (with accountability) to your teams. Set goals with deadlines – make sure that your teams fully understand the goals and have the support that they need to achieve them – and track them on outcomes instead of tasks. Address problems early and be available to your teams. Promote “intrapreneurship” within your teams, sit back and enjoy watching them GO.

Leadership Tip #3: Enable – This one is about technology and tools. Create a secure and efficient environment for your remote team to work seamlessly without hassles. Microsoft, SAP, Cisco and many others have great tools to ease remote working. Simple things like good internet bandwidth, power backups and laptops, Conference Bridge and WebEx, project management tools all have a big impact on productivity when working remote. Evaluate the options that best fit the team and the business needs and provide the facilities to your team to enable productive working across multiple time zones and locations.

Leadership Tip #4: Energize – Enthuse your remote teams by providing a shared vision and purpose and making it clear about how their work contributes to the success of the organization. This is extremely important in a virtual environment where team members may feel isolated from the organization and ambivalent about the hits and misses in the organization. Ensure that there is no disparity in compensation, promotion eligibility and benefits between the people who work from office and those that don’t. Make your teams successes and contributions visible throughout the organization. Encourage the team to mentor each other and make wins and losses a joint responsibility by celebrating wins and learning from mistakes together.

Leadership Tip #5: Exemplify – It all begins with you – walk the talk and set the right example through your own actions. Be proactive, alert, transparent and always available for your teams. Put in more effort to stay connected with your teams, appreciate often and be sensitive to the work-life balance of your team members. Working remote needs a lot of integrity and honesty and not everything can be laid out in black and white in policies and processes. Influence your teams through your own example and by being a role model so that there is no confusion within the teams on the “right” way to do things in a remote work environment.

These tips and ideas are not new – managers have been using them to ensure their team’s success in regular work environments. However, these become even more important in a remote working environment. By improving communication, learning to manage by outcomes rather than tasks, and nurturing and sustaining trust between managers and employees the entire organization benefits. I can also safely say that my management skills have significantly increased through working and managing in the remote mode.

What tips can you share from your experiences in working flexibly – did you find productivity improvements? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? I would love to hear and learn from you.

Five Tips to make Working From Home work for You

Five Tips to make Working From Home work for You

Working from home is a privilege that a few enjoy. It is usually perceived by both employer and employee as a perk of the job and is an important aspect of workplace flexibility. Many organizations are slowly realizing the benefits of a flexible/remote work policy and the win-win situations of implementing such policies (http://mashable.com/2011/10/10/remote-workforce-changing/). You may be your own company or a cog in the wheel of a large company; from experience, I have found that it is quite possible to be even more productive working from your home-office than from a cubicle. Distraction-free environment, commute, office politics, flexibility of schedule all contribute to enhanced productivity but the focus of today’s blog is how to get the best out of yourself when you are working from home :

Tip # 1 Integrity: You are in a position of trust and with Trust comes Responsibility. As Oprah has said –”Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Self-discipline is key to ensuring that you are at your productive best. You are your own manager in this scenario and have to take ownership of your work output. Set daily, weekly and monthly goals and STICK to them come what may.

Tip # 2 Time Management: It is very easy to lose track of time when you don’t have to punch in time and out time. Having more flexibility in your schedule is great, but it also makes it harder as there are more options on balancing time slots between personal and work time. Create your work hours based on what works best for you, your customers and your team. These hours may change from time to time but it is important to block them. For example – I work best late night, so I schedule my highest priority tasks that need my concentration the most for my time slots in the night. You may want to use a timer initially to keep track of time and reward yourself when your timer goes off with a short break. You will find yourself less distracted. And know when to stop – don’t let work takeover your life! Find the techniques that work best for you in tracking your most valuable resource – time!

Tip # 3 Work – Space: Keep aside a specific space – a room is best – dedicated as your work zone. It helps change the state of your mind from “I am at home” to “I am at work”. You work-space should be sacrosanct – no distractions allowed, enforce a “closed door” policy if needed. Keep your desk uncluttered and surround yourself with stuff that helps you focus – maybe fresh notepads and pens, work board, good lighting, coffee maker, music.

Tip # 4 Tools and Infrastructure: When you work from home, you are your own IT, admin and HR helpdesk. Even if your company is not paying you for it, good infrastructure and tools are totally a great investment to help you overcome irritations and productivity loss. A comfortable office chair, power backup, a good speakerphone, a printer/scanner and copier, headphones and microphone are some essentials. Do maintenance on your laptop/desk top regularly to ensure best performance. Back up your data and use a good antivirus solution.

Tip # 5 Communication and Collaboration: This becomes even more critical when you are working remote – you have to make up for face time by consciously increasing your interaction with your team and peers through intensive communication and collaboration. Pick up the phone and talk to people more, take every opportunity to collaborate, create mailing groups to inform and be informed – just because you are not physically present in the office doesn’t mean you can’t be a present and active member of your team. And ultimately remember that your work has to speak out loud for you, be “visible” through excellence in your work.

Finally I leave you with these words from Abraham Lincoln in a letter he wrote in 1851 :

If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work, you cannot get along anywhere.

— Abraham Lincoln

What strategies have worked for you in increasing your productivity when you work from home ? Do share.