I consider myself very fortunate in that I work from home for a company in California. As you can imagine, working remotely has many perks which I list here from time to time. However, over the past couple of weeks I developed the Web Worker Blues as I dealt with spotty Internet connections at home and sporadic hotel and conference WiFi as I traveled. As I waited for the cable repairman to come by and fix my connection yesterday, I listed some pros and cons of being a web based worker.
Pro: You can work anywhere
Being web based means I can work from home or the local coffee shop. If my cable goes out, as it often does, I can drive to Starbucks or the library. I can even work while waiting for my son to complete kid activities because many of them offer WiFi to parents as well. When I’m not connected, I can use Tether via my smart phone and connect that way. This comes in handy as I travel often for my job and finding hotspots is ultra important.
Con: You’re only as good as your Internet connection
Even Starbucks has Internet issues and Tether is slow sometimes. There have been times when my home connection is down, I can’t get my Tether to work and Starbucks and the library have issues. Without a good Internet connection I’m screwed and I can’t afford to be screwed. I have a job and book deadlines and outages are not an option. (But to be honest, sometimes they’re very welcome.)
Pro: You can work anywhere
I love that I can take my job anywhere. If I’m spending extended time with family or even taking a vacation, I can bring my laptop along and get work done. I have a flexible life which means I can write at the playground, answer emails on the beach or make phone calls from the back deck. Not having to commute into a traditional office all day saves gas and my sanity.
Con: You can’t work anywhere
Technically, I can work anywhere. Truthfully, I can’t. Unless I’m alone or everyone around me is working too, I’m easily distracted. There’s too much sun glare outside and too much activity during vacations, sporting events or family gatherings. I try but working remote from my remote location causes me to lose focus. Despite what everyone tells you, you can’t always work from vacations or while visiting your large, raucous family for the weekend.
Pro: Web based tools to keep in touch with coworkers
The beauty of the Internet is that it allows me instant access to my team. Email, Skype, phone calls, and Dropbox afford me the tools to stay connected. While I may not always get the immediate answers an office worker might get walking two cubicles over, If not for the web I wouldn’t be able to effectively do what I do because it requires heavy communication with my team.
Heavy communication requires heavy email. Every day my mailbox is filled with hundreds of emails from coworkers, and folks who have questions or comments. I’m glad to be of assistance and do my best to respond to everyone, but it takes a lot of time. Email (especially those dreaded “reply alls” ) pile up every day and I need to find solutions for effective communication without so many emails.
4. Dress Code
Pro: No dress code
You’ve heard it all before – home/web based workers can work in their pajamas if they’re so inclined. This is very true, we have a very casual life style. It saves on wardrobe and shoe bills, and we don’t have to worry much about suits or business casual unless we’re at meetings or conferences. Jeans are my regular uniform and I feel this comfort makes me more productive.
Con: No dress code
Notice how I said “jeans are my regular uniform?” That’s because I feel there’s such a thing as being too casual. I work best when I change out of my pajamas or swets. When I’m too casual, I’m in a too casual frame of mind. Getting dressed separates that home/work line. Also, I like to pull myself together. It gets depressing walking around looking like a schlub all day. If I’m a mess, I feel a mess and it’s distracting. I shower, get dressed and fix my hair every day to put me in the proper frame of mind.
5. The Internet
Pro: You won’t get chewed out for being online all day
When I worked in an office I needed a good excuse to get online as it wasn’t really needed for my job. Now, I can surf to my heart’s content. Even if it wasn’t my job, if I want to tweet, I tweet. If I want to say “hi” on Facebook, I say “hi” on Facebook and if I want to look up information I can do so without looking over my shoulder to see if my boss is watching. In fact, my boss is probably online as well.
Con: Distractions galore
The Internet is a distraction. Even though I need it for my job, there are times when I purposely shut it off just so I can get more work done. I don’t know too many web based workers who can stay offline the whole day (with the exception of business purposes) because the web, the social networks, the music, and the connections call all day. All day. For this reason, I think web based and home based workers have to be extremely focused. It’s too easy to waste the whole day online on non-work stuff.
I just listed my top 5 pros and cons of having a web based job. Are you a web based worker as well? What do you feel are the pluses and minuses to this kind of work?