People who are new to web working often have certain expectations on how working from home can improve the way they work. While these expectations can be met, it’s usually not as easy as it looks on reports and surveys.
Better work/life balance. The promised healthier work/life balance for web workers attracts many people, especially those who want to spend more time with their family. They feel that if they work from home, they can take care of the kids, do household errands, and have time for leisure.
In reality, it takes some time, as well as trial and error to achieve good work/life balance in web work – especially if there are children involved.
Higher Productivity. After an initial break-in period, teleworkers experience higher amounts of productivity, roughly 15% to 25% more, compared to when they were working in a traditional office setting. Note that I said “break-in period” – it takes a while before you get efficient systems in place.
It took 3 years for me to get to a more efficient schedule, and I still feel like my schedule is still a work in progress. After all, the home office probably has the same number of distractions as the traditional office. The good news is that you probably have control of most of these distractions at home. Family taking over your work hours? Set some rules and boundaries. Watching too much television? Turn it off. Smell a dead body in your apartment? Work in a coffee shop (I kid on the last one).
You’ll only experience high productivity if you’re aware of where your attention and time goes. Teleworkers are faced with more pressure to be productive, especially within a company setting where they will be compared with their non-teleworking peers.
Less expenses. The rise of gas prices is one main driving force for people and companies who practice teleworking. Including transportation and fuel costs, employees can save roughly $7,000 to $13,000 per year on various expenses such as parking, daycare, food, and clothing.
There will be a noticeable decrease in expenses if you manage your money well once you start telecommuting. All those potential savings could easily go down the drain if you drive around town everyday meeting up with friends or running errands – although I don’t hear about web workers doing too much of that.
Reduces chances of discrimination. It’s expected that having less or no face-time with clients means that they’ll focus on your portfolio instead of your race or gender. Although this is partly true, some discrimination still occurs.
Freelancers might experience discrimination from potential clients who have reservations working with an offshore contractor. However, as this kind of arrangement becomes more commonplace, chances of discrimination are reduced. As I mentioned in a previous article, teleworking employees face a different kind of discrimination.
Although meeting one’s expectations of web work takes a lot of effort and planning, it isn’t that far from happening. If we just learn to manage these expectations well, then web working can live up to its promise.
What expectations did you have when you started web working? Were those expectations met?