Any new job or career brings some unexpected surprises to new employees; drawbacks they had not anticipated and were obviously not volunteered by the employer during the interview process. I want to discuss three particular job features that many find extremely enticing when first offered. However, you really should speak to people that have worked under these circumstances to get a better understanding that they might not be quite the perk you believe them to be.
Telecommuting/Working from Home. First reaction to this: “Wow, I can work in my pajamas. No one looking over my shoulder! No commute time, I can take care of personal things much more easily during the day. My gasoline and wardrobe expenses will decline.” The list goes on.
These all may be true, but once workers start this, they often find they miss interacting with co-workers. There’s no one to receive immediate feedback from. Plus, you can loose touch with the pulse of a company or maybe slip out of “the loop,” so to speak. The Wall Street Journal recently cited a report by the International Data Corporation finding that fewer employees have been seeking telecommuting options, feeling the distance from “where the action is” makes their jobs more vulnerable. I recently started semi-monthly résumé talk lunches with some private résumé writers. Both “work from home” consultants love the lunches partly because they have such limited opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues working from home.
A completely absent, or “Hands-Off” supervisor. If you’ve just escaped working under a controlling micro-manager, this model initially looks like Nirvana. However, in training you will quickly see the one major down of such a supervisor. You may be quickly thrust right into the firing line, and when you look for instruction support and guidance, the absentee boss is just that-absent. This pattern will continue throughout your tenure.
Travel on the job. Wow, I get to see new places on company dime. Problem is few jobs have a happy median for travel. You will likely move quickly into a mode where you hop planes multiple times per month. Plus, you don’t very often get to see much more than office, hotel rooms and airports. Your schedule can get thrown completely off by flight delays and cancellation. Once again, see how many people you find that travel extensively for their jobs that rave about it.
At a recent conference, I had the pleasure of hearing Judson Laipply of “Evolution of Dance” fame speak. In addition to his performance, a factor he stressed also stuck with me. He spoke about how much happiness is affected by the gap between one’s expectations and actual results. The closer results resemble expectations, the more happiness ensues, whether expectations are realistic or not. Each of these perks can provide better work opportunities. I just hate to see unrealistic expectations sour people on a job unnecessarily.