Have you ever thought about working from home?
If the possibility to work remotely is something you are considering, here is a reality check of what to expect and things to consider:
Communication is Key
My first experience working from home many years ago was a disaster. The company I worked for was in another time zone and sometimes it would take all day to answer a question for a client. In addition, we were required to conduct all business on company cell phones, something, that at the time, was far less reliable than land lines. The apartment I lived in had poor reception and if I happened to be home, I learned the only place in the entire complex I could get reliable service was the center of the swimming pool. More than once, I had to precariously balance on a pair of stacked pool floaties (to prevent sinking) with my cell phone and a $3,000 company laptop, all because my personal landline was not considered an appropriate alternative.
Speaking from experience, having a good team like I have at ELITeXPO can make all the difference in whether or not a home office is a viable option. While technology has improved significantly since those days, I also learned an important lesson: not all companies are equipped to handle remote employees. ELITeXPO has me using a VoIP phone that gives me an extension at the corporate office. It's one of the ways I get to feel like I'm right down the hall from my co-workers.
In our industry, being able to answer a client quickly is critical as tradeshow shipping is time sensitive. Working in a separate time zone from our ELITeXPO corporate office is not a downfall, it is an advantage. When a client sends a request towards the end of the day I know Client Services will most likely have the request completed before I clock in the following day because they are in a time zone two hours ahead.
You Must Have So Much Free Time!
The most common misconception I get from friends & family when they learn I work from a home office is that working from home somehow translates to more free time outside work. Somehow the amount of time I used to commute brings them images of a tidy home, gourmet meals and an abundance of availability outside of work time. The reality is you are greeted by the dirty dishes every time you walk into the kitchen, dust bunnies dance at my feet in the hallway as I scuffle back to my office. This could drive some people nuts. Be prepared. If you are going to work from home, you must be self-disciplined and be able to tune out distractions.
The tradeshow industry is not a 9-5 job. Move-in and move-outs for shows often take place on evenings, weekends and sometimes during the holidays. While it is a bonus to have the flexibility to talk with a client over the weekend or finish a project outside of regular hours when needed, it is also a siren song to any workaholic and quite easy to blur the lines if you don’t set boundaries for yourself.
Did You Even Get Dressed Today?
I used to wear suits everyday & I don’t miss it. Having the freedom to dress in jeans is still a sight that has some asking if I actually went to work that day. If the idea of dressing up in a suit helps you mentally prepare for the day, by all means knock yourself out. Though, you may want to stay away from keeping your pajamas on all day. Getting in a routine of waking up and getting dressed for work will help get you in the right mindset for your day. Not to mention, it will help you avoid embarassing last minute Skype calls.
Get Out, Get Out, Get Out!!!
Freed from the distractions of a traditional office, it is very easy to become so comfortable working from home that you never want to leave. Take a break to actually get out of the house every day. Go on a quick walk, it’s good for your brain and important for your mental health to walk away for a few minutes. No longer being in an office it is important to still schedule face time with other professionals, especially if your job is done completely over the phone and computer. I try to make it a priority when possible to meet face-to-face with clients or even co-workers that come to town, attend a local tradeshow on my own, or meetup for drinks with other industry professionals to stay up to date.
Live Anywhere and Love Your Job
The home office has not only become an attractive option for most professionals, but is also a great way for companies to retain talent. Imagine having the freedom to live wherever you wanted and still have a job you love to do. A happy employee is a productive employee.