Telecommuting Tug of War – How to Define the Right Work Environment for You

By Hallie Crawford
Certified Career Coach, Founder of Create Your Career Path

With Best Buy and Yahoo re-thinking their telecommuting policies, the work environment question is on our minds yet again. Whether telecommuting is right for you or not, work environment is a critical piece to defining the right industry, company and career path for you. It is a good idea for companies to have flexible policies to try to fit different workers ideal work situation within reason. You as an employee need to consider what will work for you long-term in terms of the right work environment because bottom line, it can be a make or break in determining how much you enjoy your job.

I had a client in Chicago who loved her work, enjoyed her peers and staff but her boss was difficult and the organization’s values did not fit her well. She ended up leaving this job. The tough part about work environment is, it needs to fit your personality and your personality for the most part is what it is. You can change or improve upon your skill set but you cannot change your personality, at least not dramatically. You must consider work environment when you are considering different possible career directions. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are vetting out your ideas:

1) Your personality type. Take a free quick online personality test. Even better, use a career assessment. Understand how you operate, the types of people you interact with the best, and the culture that works best for you. Are you more
 introverted or extroverted? A more creative or traditional type? All of these factors will impact the right fit for you.

2) Corporate culture. What are the company’s values? What is their mission and what is it really like to work there? You want to understand what their culture is like to find out if it is a fit for you. Are they forward-thinking and progressive, or more conservative for example? The product or service they provide can give you clues to what the culture might be like, but take the time anyway to find out first-hand what it is really like to work there. You can find out a little more about a company’s culture by talking with people who work there and looking on sites like www.glassdoor.com.

3) Co-workers and employer. Ask during the interview if you can meet with others you will be working with. Find out what your boss’ management style is, hands on or more laissez-faire? Who you will be working with is as critical to know about as the role you will be playing. You need to determine whether the people you work with will be a fit for you to dig into a project with.

4) Schedule, location, physical space. These are all things to consider as well. For some people they will not matter as much as others. For example, a recent college grad may be willing to re-locate almost anywhere for a new job. The single working mom may require that her job is as close as possible to her son’s daycare and choose the position that is closer to that location even if another position offered is slightly more appealing. It is all about priorities. And it is up to you how high you place these on your list of priorities or importance.

5) Values – yours and theirs. Finally, consider the values of the organization as well as your values. Are they a fit? Will you be doing something at your job on a regular basis that fulfills you in some way? And do your company’s values align with yours or at least, not step on them? You need to consider the intangible elements as well as the tangible elements like skills and talents when you are considering your long-term career path.

There are obviously more elements to consider for your career path long-term in addition to those above. The list depends on your needs and priorities and current situation. But at the very least, take these factors into consideration when you are applying for a job or choosing between different positions because environment can greatly impact not only your fulfillment but also your success.

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