Working from home is the new normal for millions of Americans, and many companies are planning to make the move permanent for many of their employees — even after vaccines bring an end to the pandemic.
Whether that’s the case at your company, your bosses are giving you an option, or if you want to make a case to them to work remotely, there are important matters to consider.
Career and personal impacts
“The pandemic may result in something I’ve advocated for years – more people working remotely,” says Cynthia Spraggs, CEO of Virtira, a completely virtual company that helps other businesses work virtually. “But making this kind of transition permanently, whether full-time or part-time, can have a major impact on both your career, finances, and your personal life.
“It’s more than just the dynamics of getting your home workspace set up properly for the long haul and having the right mindset to perform even better than you would in the office. Will your work relationships suffer? Your family and personal relationships? Your career trajectory? Is relocating a good idea financially?”
Spraggs offers these key points to consider about working remotely on a permanent basis:
- Consider possible salary changes and tax implications if relocating. “You need to ask this question if you’re considering relocating to work remotely,” Spraggs says. “Some employers will base compensation on location, and that means employees moving from a high cost-of-living area to a less expensive one could see their salaries reduced. Also, employees need to do their homework and see how their take-home pay will be impacted by taxes in their new location.”
- Determine your home-or-office comfort level. Is your life better in the long run working from home? “That question should include whether you miss your work colleagues and team synergy enough that Zoom doesn’t cut it,” Spraggs says. “Maybe social isolation is catching up with you and you need a hybrid-type balance, or you realize you want to be back in the office after all. The bigger question is how well can you manage your time working from home, or do family dynamics interfere?”
- Plan your pitch thoroughly. “If you have to sell your leadership team on working remotely full-time,” Spraggs says, “have specific examples of your work performance since you started working from home during the pandemic. And if you want to relocate, you can inform leadership about what advantages that might have for the company, like giving them a new presence in a certain region.”
- Keep an eye out for other job prospects. If you relocate, Spraggs says it’s important to consider what the job opportunities are in your new market, because layoffs are always a possibility. “And wherever you are,” Spraggs says, “remember that your next employer might not be on board with remote work.”
- Beware it could hurt your career prospects. If most of your company will be returning to the office, those who work from home either part-time or full-time might be at a disadvantage in terms of promotions or performance evaluation. “It’s important to be proactive about communicating with your manager and having a plan to keep them informed of your progress,” Spraggs says. “It’s a good idea to come to the office occasionally. You have to have some in-person time to build relationships with teams.”
“Now is a good time to reevaluate your current work environment and how it could be if you continue working remotely,” Spraggs says. “A lot of people have enjoyed the freedom of it, but there’s much to consider if you want to make the new normal a permanent reality.”