Does telecommuting hurt your career?
Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo, poses during the 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 25, 2013. / AP Photo/Keystone/Laurent Gillieron
(MoneyWatch) In the now famous Yahoo memo announcing that by June, all Yahoo employees must work in the office, the company's HR head Jackie Reses proclaims several things: They have many "fun" new initiatives, people feel "energy and buzz" when they work in the office, and some of the "best" work is done when you run into someone in the hallway. Therefore, no more telecommuting. Period.
Most companies don't have this strict of a policy, and some, like Virgin, encourage people to work wherever they work best, whether that be from home or from the office.
If you have the opportunity to work from home, should you? Or will it hurt your career? Here are a few things to consider.
If your kids can be heard in the background, your career will suffer. Unlike Marissa Mayer, you can't build a nursery in your office. So, some people want to work at home to increase the time they spend with their kids. However, working from home doesn't necessarily mean you get tons more time with them. You still need daycare or a nanny or after school care.
If your boss values face time, you'll lose out. Some bosses are just clueless as to what is really going on. They judge people on what they can physically see. So, she sees your in office coworker slaving over a presentation for days and think, "Wow! Jane is really working hard!" She doesn't see you doing an equal amount of slaving at home, the finished presentation just ends up in her hands.
Hallway chats can be helpful -- for your career. The Yahoo memo states: "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side." Hallway chats can prompt people to think of you for projects that they wouldn't otherwise. If you're working from home, you will miss out on that.
You can be much more productive from home. While some people are convinced that you are just doing it for the ability to work in your pajamas, the truth is, some people can be more productive at home. While some of those hallway chats are useful, many others are useless and mostly about non-work stuff. You get to skip those. And your commute time can become working time.
Your stress level can actually drop. Without the stress of a long commute, the panic about being able to arrange a day for the cable guy to show up (between 1:00 and 5:00!) or missing a package, you can actually focus on your job. There's less gossip and you can still foster a relationship with your coworkers through email, IMing, and even text messaging.
It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Telecommuting can be full time or one day a week. For your career, it's often best to work some days in the office and some days at home. You get the best of both worlds.
If you have a good boss, it can be a boost to your career. A good boss judges you on your results, not on your butt-in-seat time. Someone who telecommutes because she works best at home will have better results and win praise from the right boss.
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