Working Virtually — the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sandi Matuschka
Posted: September 24, 2014

Once devoutly desired by cubicle-bound denizens, working virtually — which most of the time means working from home on your computer — has become more commonplace than ever. This is due to, among other things, increased entrepreneurship, younger retirees with new careers, part-time at-home workers, and augmented technological capabilities.

Is working virtually for you? Check out some of the pros and cons — which we’ll consider like the title of an old movie: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

The Ugly

Moving backwards, let’s talk about the ugly first. You might wonder: “What could be ugly about working at home?” Debbie Wooldridge, president and CEO of ttcInnovations, a topnotch company in the forefront of customized training solutions, sums it up humorously. “Sadly, with the move into a virtual environment, I spend zero time on my appearance before coming into the ‘office.’ Many days I just jump out of bed, brush my teeth, throw on my workout gear and head to my desk. And, it gets even uglier; often when I get time to run, immediately afterwards I have to jump on a call, and there I sit at my desk, with sweat drying. Now, that is the ugly!”

The Bad

The bad can vary. It might include such things as isolation — being pasted to the computer 10 hours a day without seeing another human; not getting enough exercise; wrestling with recalcitrant technology or outages; wondering if you’re beginning to get carpal tunnel; subsisting on quick breaks of reheated pizza and boiled eggs instead of genuine meals; viewing work-related phone calls as social interaction; being so absorbed in tasks that you vaguely wonder who that animal is that wandered into the office before realizing it’s the neglected family pet, or becoming sleep-deprived to meet that deadline you promised.

The Good

Then there’s the good, and the good truly and really outweighs any ugly or bad. You have a degree of autonomy in your life that cubicle folks don’t. Being your own manager gives you more ability to control your time. You can revel in the ugly, which ironically turns it into the good. For example, if you’re a woman, you can wear those fuzzy slippers and comfy sweats to work, and forget about makeup and hairdo. If you’re a guy, torn tees, dungarees and bare feet are fine. Live in the South during the hot and humid tropical weather? Just trot to your local workroom and enjoy your indoor air conditioning. Is it blowing snow in the Northeast and bitter cold? Don’t worry about heating up the car; just jack up the heater and commute a room away. You can talk out loud to yourself and not bother your neighbor, or play music you like while working. You can manipulate your schedule to meet your needs 90 percent of the time.

Best of all, your interaction with virtual colleagues can transform them into real friends over time. What’s better than that?

What do you like about working virtually?

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