Aside from a huge spike in personal hygiene, if there is any other glimmer of a silver lining from the Corona Virus pandemic, one of them is assuredly that a lot of employers are going to need to re-evaluate their telecommuting stances. After working for more than 20 years in corporate offices, some of which had reasonably flexible telecommuting policies, I have now been running C2 from the comfort and convenience of our home for over eight years and I can honestly say I don’t miss working in corporate office at all. That being said, jumping straight into becoming a full-time telecommuter is not just a matter of grabbing your laptop and making a bee-line for home.
It can’t be that hard, can it?
- I.T? You’re it! Sadly, unless you happen to live with an tech-savvy family member you’ll likely be the hands-on technician when things go wrong. As companies spread out, that lone office technician is going to be spending more time in the car and less time helping you, if corporate even lets them service home offices, and most can’t/won’t for a variety of reasons. You can be sure in a quarantine situation no one is going to be making house calls. Being a telecommuter means you will have to become familiar with and responsible for a lot of technology that you never had to worry about previously.
- Is your home internet up to snuff? While broadband has largely become readily available and mostly affordable in larger metropolitan areas, I still encounter plenty of residential neighborhoods, even here in Los Angeles, where the internet provider choices are slim, slow and expensive. Before you raise your hand to work from home, make sure your internet can handle it.
- Do you have space for an office? Just because you don’t have your own office at corporate doesn’t mean you can work long term at the dining room table at home. Even if you live alone you should try to keep your work and home environments separate for many reasons: noise, privacy, organization, and most of all, work-life balance. Make sure it’s close to the router if you can manage it, because…
- WiFi may not be enough. Though it probably works great for enjoying music or movies around the house, home WiFi is often sub-par compared to the reliability of office networks, especially if you’ll be using a VPN or a VOIP phone, or participating in video-conference calls. At minimum, you’ll want to be as close as possible to your WiFi router to guarantee a strong, reliable signal or even a direct Ethernet connection to eliminate the unpredictable nature of WiFi altogether.
- You’re going to need a better chair. Having been in numerous home offices, I can confidently say that most of you do not have the same quality office furniture as even the most humbly outfitted company office. That dining room chair with the worn-out seat cushion will put you in traction quicker than a car accident, especially if it’s paired with a makeshift desk built for a middle-schooler. I’m looking at you, Ikea. Pay attention to ergonomics – a sofa built for Netflix watching is going to wreck your back if you spend eight hours (or more) a day working from it.
- Is corporate actually ready to go virtual? Even if you check all the boxes off on this list, your company may not actually be ready to go virtual, especially if they are being forced into it. Deploying a large chunk of your workforce into the field requires some planning and investment into proper infrastructure and training, both for the workers, staff IT and the leadership of the company. Don’t be surprised if everything doesn’t work like it used to when you were all in the same building. If your company has only dabbled in telecommuting, going full virtual and staying at 100% productivity isn’t something that happens overnight, even for the most nimble