It’s become almost commonplace to consider teleworking as a career move. From companies wanting to reduce costs to individuals looking for alternative income streams, there’s no shortage of people interested in this option. But no matter how easy it looks on paper, successful teleworking takes time and effort to establish. This is especially true if you have personal characteristics that might make it harder for you to telework.
What traits should you watch out for and how do you overcome them?
- You are dependent on face-to-face interaction when acquiring information. A common problem I see with people who are new to teleworking is that they don’t know how to acquire information independently. This is a difficult problem to have, especially in the age of search engines. Not all information can be found online, but taking the initiative to look up solutions on your own can get you very far.
- You are afraid of technology. While you don’t have to spend hours each day reading tech blogs and you don’t need to know the latest Gmail hacks, you need to be comfortable with technology. After all, you’ll be using it to perform your most important work tasks including collaboration and research. Don’t worry, though. There are both written and video tutorials for practically every application out there.
- You need supervision to get things done. Whether you’re a freelancer or an employee doing remote work for a company, you need to get your major tasks done even when there’s no one to look over your shoulder. When it comes to your day-to-day accomplishments, your only supervisor is yourself.
- You equate busy-ness with productivity. Ernest Hemingway once said “Never confuse movement with action.” To measure whether you’re accomplishing tasks throughout your workday, note your output rather than the hours you spend in front of the computer.
- You are not organized. Being organized has nothing to do with how clean or neat your home office is. It’s about finding office supplies in a couple of seconds, knowing where you stashed each client file and scheduling your workday well. For some useful tips, refer to Leo Babauta’s WWD article on how to get organized.
- Your work ethic is largely dependent on moods. If you keep waiting to work when you’re “inspired” or you “feel like it”, you’re likely to spend 80 percent of your time waiting around for the right mood to get started. Make the effort to develop sound working habits, especially while you’re just starting to telework. Of course, there will always be those moments where you can’t seem to focus. During these times, you can always take a break or perform other tasks that are indirectly related to your work. This allows you to come back to your work with a fresh perspective.
- You can’t say no. Teleworking requires the ability to prioritize ruthlessly, to say “no” to requests that are neither important nor urgent. These requests can range from professional to personal. Since I work from home and have a flexible schedule, some of my relatives seem to think that it’s okay to ask me to run errands for them. Other teleworkers have told me that they also experience this problem. But if we agreed to do everything that was requested of us by our families or clients, we would have no time for the actual work.
Having these traits doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attempt teleworking. I had at least a couple of these myself before I started out. We just need to be aware of the weaknesses that may be detrimental to our teleworking, and work towards overcoming them.
What traits or personality types prevent successful teleworking? Any suggestions on how to get over them?