It might not be time to give up the office.
There are pros and cons to weigh before deciding whether or not to give up the office and work remotely full time. — Getty Images/Brothers91

Across the country, more than two-thirds of companies have implemented permanent remote working policies. Large-scale companies like Twitter and Square have told their employees to work from home permanently. By removing the frustration of commuting, they are giving their employees more freedom while saving money on office space.

Many small businesses have offered flexible remote work policies for years. For others, the pandemic has made working from home possible, and even necessary — but is working from home sustainable or even ideal?

While there are plenty of benefits for going completely virtual, here’s what to consider before going all-in on remote work forever.

[Read more: 7 Tools That Will Help You Work From Home]

Consider your situation at home

Don’t underestimate the impact working from home has on your home life. Whether you’re single, married with kids, or living with a roommate or your parents, you have to consider the impact your schedule will have on those around you. Are your hours going to clash with your partners? Is there child care available if you’re required to be online from 9 to 5? Will your roommate’s loud chewing be a constant distraction?

Even when there are people around, working remotely is lonely. A survey by Buffer found that 20% of full-time remote workers struggle with feeling isolated, which can lead to burnout and fatigue. It’s important to speak to your manager about how you can stay connected to others in the office if you do choose to work from home. You need to audit your home situation to ensure it’s an environment conducive to working productively for the foreseeable future.

Analyze your workstation

Lockdowns forced many employees to set up a home office wherever there was available space – the kitchen counter, a corner of the living room, even the bed. And, while working from your bed seems like a cool idea, the novelty will wear off before you know it. Studies have shown that doing work from your bed can disrupt your sleep cycle and negatively affect your productivity.

After considering your home environment, namely the people around you, you need to establish your workspace. Whether it’s converting an extra bedroom, adding a desk in a corner of the kitchen, or weatherproofing your garage, you need to find a suitable location that can become your base. If your studio apartment has limited options, you may need to consider joining a coworking space nearby.

Turn your coffee dates into phone calls or a virtual hangout.

Invest in a good internet connection

If nothing else, you must have a great internet connection to work from home successfully. Even if you have a basic package set up, consider what you’ll need to do work as seamlessly as you do in the office.

Find out what your existing internet speeds are with a website like Speedtest.net or Netflix’s Fast.com. The speed you need depends largely on what you’re using the internet for (e.g., sending emails vs. spending the day on video calls) as well as how many people or devices are using the connection at the same time.

“A download and upload speed of 2 Mbps is sufficient for those who only use email, social media and audio conference calls on one device at a time. For remote work and learning that requires video conferencing or uploading and downloading large documents like videos, average download speeds of 10 Mbps would be preferable,” reported the Speedtest blog. “A download speed of 25 Mbps or higher is desirable for those who have multiple people working from home or people using streaming services at the same time.”

In addition to a good internet connection, you may also need access to a VPN and other security tools. Speak to your company’s IT professional to get the technology you need to get the job done.

Find your community

One of the perks of working in an office is the camaraderie. Networking with your coworkers is as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee. If you’re going to work from home forever, you need to consider how you’ll replicate and maintain those relationships.

You can use sites like LinkedIn to connect with people in your industry. Turn your coffee dates into phone calls or a virtual hangout. Better yet, take this opportunity to get out of the house and meet up with people, keeping those face-to-face connections intact. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’ve identified solutions that fit your lifestyle. Remember, it’s going to require a little more effort if you’re remote working.

Be open with your boss

If your company is going remote, chat with your boss about expectations. Wherever you may be, you need to monitor your performance reviews, goals and targets. Spend some time understanding how things will shift, how you’ll review your work and when to expect feedback from your managers.

While you’re on the topic, it’s worth understanding the in-person expectations your boss has. It could range from client meetings to company events or team brainstorms. Make sure you’re able to commit to something achievable.

For many people, the prospect of working from home permanently means forfeiting career growth. You don’t have to lose your drive to improve and acquire new skills. It helps if you’re ready to take this into your own hands. Spend time crafting detailed objectives to ensure your continued growth.

[Read more: 5 Ways to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work From Home]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published October 22, 2020