Not everyone who teleworks does it for life. An online writer I know just went back to his old job as an on-site project manager. A quick surf to articles or blogs on telecommuting shows that not all people are happy with their experiences.
Some analysts are also making observations that teleworking is a temporary setup, especially among corporate employees:
In fact, there is a higher degree of churn among teleworkers today than in the past, according to Sean Ryan, an analyst at IDC. Statistics indicate that, for whatever reason, telework is not a permanent arrangement, he says. “They telecommute for a while, but then go back into the corporate world.”
If telework is as great as promised, why do some people return to the office?
Lost opportunities. According to a survey done by Steelcase Inc., 64% of surveyed participants fear that telecommuting prevents them from advancing in their careers . However, researchers from Pennsylvania State University found no evidence that this actually happens in practice. Still, it’s entirely possible that it does.
When you spend less time in the office, this also reduces the chance you have for getting impromptu opportunities and projects. Also, some of your colleagues might unintentionally downplay your role in the company since they don’t see you often. This will really stunt your career growth, especially if your supervisor thinks that way too.
Fear. There are those who are afraid to even try teleworking, and there are those who are afraid to keep going at it because of seemingly insurmountable obstacles they encounter. If you’re a freelancer, it’s especially scary since you might have some dry spells. The fear alone could be enough reason for some to go back to the security of an office job.
Keeping work and life separate. I love that my work and my life are so closely integrated. My work is such an important part of my identity, that I can’t talk about my life without talking about my work. Not all web workers feel this way. Some people prefer to keep their work in the office and their life at home.
Of course, there are ways to strike a good work/life balance as a teleworker, but if you find that actively looking for a good system is outside your personality, then you’re really going to have a hard time adjusting.
Just missing office life. I have a friend whose working style thrives on the office environment, on dressing up for work, interacting with others, and being on her feet for 8 hours a day. If you’re not satisfied with the teleworking alternatives to such things, then maybe you do belong in the traditional office.
Sometimes, the decision is beyond your control. Your company might decide to cull the number of teleworkers and call you back into the office. If this is so, you’re left with little choice – either go with your company’s rules or resign and work as a freelancer. But that’s a longer, more complex decision than I can write about here.
It’s true that teleworking isn’t for everyone. You have to go with the path that will allow you to work in the best manner possible, which, of course, is up to you to define.
As for me, I’ll do everything in my power to telework for life.
Are you content with teleworking? What would make you go back to full-time office work?