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When You Shouldn't Work from Home
By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
Sept. 6, 2012
If you think working from home is for you, you might be wrong.
We’re longstanding advocates of telework, but in some cases
it’s a bad bet. Here are a few examples when home sweet home may
not look so sweet.
1. You can earn much more in a job down the street than at home.
If you’re one of those lucky people who live near high-paying
“commuter” jobs, you may find that working from home
demands a salary cut that you or your family can’t accept.
Most home-based jobs, for now, pay toward the lower end of salaries, in
the range of $10-$20 per hour, and many are part-time. Moreover,
home-based executive or management slots are hard to find. You may
decide that the tradeoff in income and career progress imposed by
home-based work is just too great.
2. You’re a lawyer, banker or other professional in a conservative profession.
The legal profession has been notoriously slow to embrace meaningful
telework arrangements. Just as female attorneys say that taking a
hiatus for parenting often puts promotions at risk, spending too many
days in a home office can have the same effect.
“The law dislikes change,” one lawyer pointed out.
“There’s even a legal principle that enshrines this
thinking. It’s called ‘stare decisis.’ It means that
precedent should be honored. The older lawyers want to see the younger
ones sitting at their desks, billing hours, the way it has always been
done. And firms don’t want clients meeting their lawyers in home
offices. That’s too hoi polloi.”
Our own job research bears this out. We occasionally see home-based
jobs for attorneys (from Counsel on Call, for example, at
Counseloncall.com), but much less often than we see jobs in other
sectors. Similarly, we see relatively few openings for bankers,
accountants and the like, apart from mortgage bankers doing business
development, and self-employed or freelance accountants.
Some say that security concerns make telework risky for these
professions. But telemedicine has shown rapid growth, and many
technology professionals work from home on secure workstations every
day. Perhaps telepresence (aka videoconferencing) and younger workers
with “wired” expectations will help foster change where so
much is due.
3. You don’t like your kids.
We’re exaggerating, of course, but not everyone is at his or her
best when trying to juggle parenting responsibilities and a job under
the same roof. Even if you can afford child care inside your home as
you work, you may not have the temperament to do well in both roles
simultaneously – parent and employee.
Moreover, many employers frown on interruptions, regardless of the
source. If you’re on the phone with a supervisor and your child
bursts in with a scrape on his elbow or a tiff with a sibling, your
telework arrangement and your performance record both may be in
jeopardy. And if you have a customer service job, an interruption may
spell immediate termination.
Telework is a wonderful solution for millions of people, and helps meet
our environmental needs, too. But we’re still getting the hang of
it in many ways, and some parts of the scrimmage line will lag behind
others as we move downfield.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book
is Work at Home Now,
a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on
finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 BY STAFFCENTRIX, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM