The Dark Side Of Working Virtually

The case for working virtually seems very compelling. However, not everyone has the self-discipline to stay focused on work with so many interesting distractions at home. There are some disadvantages to working out of sight.

From the worker's point of view:

▲ Few homes are quiet places. Barking dogs, chiming clocks, loud neighbors, and traffic noise all conspire to distract the virtual worker. When children come home from school, typically before the workday ends, can the work area be effectively isolated?

▲ Family members expect you will run errands for them "since you are home" and not appreciate that your home is in your work area.

▲ Virtual workers feel isolated. People are social creatures. They enjoy interaction with others. Friendships among coworkers are common. Working virtually removes much of this. Telephone con versations are an inadequate substitute for face-to-face discussions. Informal communications (such as encounters between coworkers in the hallway), where most of the company's "inside information" is exchanged, becomes difficult.

▲ Virtual workers lack reassurance from their manager that they are valued workers. Traditional positions usually involve daily contact with supervisors. Verbally and nonverbally, these interactions reassure the individual that all is well. Without this, doubts creep into the supervisor-worker relationship.

▲ The primary reason that virtual workers abandon their home-based job and return to working in an office is a feeling of isolation.

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