The much-discussed skills shortage in analytics has led many employers to consider allowing some of their team members to work remotely. Giving quantitative professionals the option of having a flexible schedule can be extremely helpful for some, but working remotely comes with a its own set of benefits and challenges. How do you know if working remotely will work well for you?
Here are some of the pros and cons when working remotely as an analytics professional, as well as questions to consider when evaluating a remote opportunity.
- Schedule flexibility – Working remotely can often offer more schedule flexibility, especially when taking care of one’s family.
- No commute – Not having a commute means more than just sleeping in and working in your pajamas, it can also be extremely helpful if you’re living in an area with fewer opportunities, or in a relatively rural area that might otherwise involve a significant commute.
- Saves money – You can save money on your commute, on eating lunch out, coffee on the way to work, etc. It can be easier to manage some of these costs when working from home.
- Ability to focus – Although this is certainly not the case for everyone, some analytics professionals I’ve spoken with say that they’re able to work more intensely on data projects with less coworker distractions. Analytics can require a lot of focus and concentration, which, depending on one’s preferred office environment, might be easier to accomplish at home.
- No work/home boundaries – One of the top difficulties I hear about is the challenge in designating where work life ends and home life begins. This can also result in working more hours than if you’d been at the office, since some coworkers might feel that since you work remotely you should be “always on call”.
- Difficulty collaborating – Regardless of web conference technology, most professionals that work remotely will tell you that collaboration can be more challenging when you are physically separated from the rest of the team. It can be tough to stay in the loop regardless of how diligently your team tries to keep you updated. If you tend to thrive in the company of others, it can also be rather lonely!
- Missing out on learning opportunities – Similar to collaboration, there are many non-official learning opportunities that you may miss out on by working remotely, such as conversations with your co-workers or being able to learn from them if they’re working on a similar project. Working remotely also cuts you off from interpersonal learning experiences, which can affect how your team or boss sees you.
- Less exposure to management – While having less management oversight can be a relief, it can also make promotions harder to come by since you are not constantly within reach of the management team.
- Difficulty being hands on – Although it is possible to be a hands on manager while working remotely, it is certainly not the optimal arrangement. If you are managing a team remotely, you must keep consistent touch points with your staff
- Less access to tools/resources – Working from home can mean that you have less access to tools, learning materials, or other resources that you might have at the office. It can also make professional development opportunities like mentorship much more challenging.
- Impact on future opportunities – Remote opportunities are not always viewed in the same light as if you had been working from the office, and some employers may consider remote positions to be part-time (even if they’re not).
Questions to Consider
If you are considering a remote opportunity, how can you decide whether you would excel in the position and whether the company is ready to support remote staff? Some questions you might want to consider are:
- Are you self motivated? Can you meet deadlines without direct supervision?
- Are you able to manage any home distractions that might arise while working remotely?
- In analytics, tools and methodologies are evolving very quickly; will you have full access to any tools, resources, or learning materials that you might need?
- Will you be provided with company-issued equipment or will you be expected to provide some of your own? What is the quality of the technology?
- What is the company policy for reimbursement if you accrue expenses?
- Will you be expected to travel to clients or to the main office?
- Would you be happier working around people at the office?
- What infrastructure is in place to collaborate? Are Skype and video conferences the norm or will you be relying on traditional phone and email?
Whether or not a remote opportunity is the right career move for you is very dependent on the company you’ll be working for, your own personality, and the role itself, which is why it is so important to carefully weigh the opportunity before accepting. I hope this article has given you some insight into what factors you may want to consider, and if you’ve worked remotely or have other insights to add, I welcome you to leave them in the comments!
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