If you’re an Introvert, the idea of working from home probably sounds like a dream. No crowded commute, co-workers in the next cubicle, office chit-chat, or other noise and human drama. Just you, silence, and uninterrupted hours of doing deep work with no distractions.
You might even be able to try out something new you’d never go for if you had to do the job in person.
This may sound great but, like with any dream job, the reality may not be as appealing as it looks in your head. Are there any downsides to working from home? You know there will be, since nothing’s perfect. But could some of those downsides actually be related to being an Introvert?
Not all work-from-home jobs will necessarily be a great fit for an Introvert in general, or you in particular. To determine if the job you’re thinking of will be a good fit for you, try asking yourself some questions.
1. Will I still be dealing with people all day?
If you’re working from home, you won’t have to deal with traffic on the way to work, attend constant in-person meetings, or make polite conversation with co-workers in the hallways. But does that really mean you’ll have all the quiet and solitude you crave? In this sense, there are two basic things to consider:
- The nature of the work
For example, if you’re doing some kind of customer service job where you’ll be fielding phone calls all day, you’ll definitely be dealing with people. And talking on the phone can be almost as – or more – tiring to an Introvert as dealing with people in person.
- The structure you’ll be expected to work within
If you can spend most of your time working on solitary projects and just send them in at the end of the day or week, maybe receiving occasional phone calls or emails to answer questions, that could work well. But what if you’re expected to do frequent Zoom meetings, Slack chats or other forms of communication every day? What if your boss or team members call you multiple times a day, at random times, interrupting your solitude and your flow?
So, think about the kind of work you’ll be doing, who you’ll be interacting with and how often, and the forms of communication you can expect when considering whether a work-from-home job may be a good fit.
2. Is my home a good work environment?
While working at home instead of having to go into the office may seem like a great situation for an Introvert, part of that depends on what kind of home environment you’ll be working in.
If you live with others, will they be there too during your work day? Will you end up being responsible for child care and home-schooling help, or dealing with noisy roommates or a demanding spouse who thinks that because you’re visible it makes you available?
You may even find that you miss things like your drive home from work or a quiet lunch at your desk, which may give you buffer time before you have to deal with people at home as well.
3. Will I get lost in the cracks?
If all you want to do is get your work done, collect your paycheck and live as quietly as possible, maybe this part won’t matter much. But if you want to be recognized for your contributions, be considered for a promotion, or just maintain an active network, will all of this be harder when you’re not actually there in person?
Since as an Introvert you’re likely quiet about what you do, if no one’s around to see it, your talents and efforts may go unnoticed. If you want to make a success of working from home work without becoming invisible, you’ll have to think about other ways to be recognized and appreciated.
You’ll also need to make an extra effort to keep in the loop about what’s going on, maintain co-worker relationships, and get your voice and ideas heard. And if you’re trying something new because it seems more reachable as a work-from-home option, will you get the training and ongoing guidance you need to learn the ropes and gain proficiency?
4. Will I be doing work I like?
While where you work – and with whom – are important factors, what you do day after day is also important. If you’re tempted to take a work-from-home job with a job description you wouldn’t normally be drawn to, just because it’s work-from-home, the trade-off may not be worth it.
Even for Introverts, having to deal with fewer people doesn’t guarantee you’ll like your job. Other factors are: the kind of work; the skills you’ll be using; whether there’s room for creativity and growth; and the kind of people you’ll be working with when you do have contact, whether that’s co-workers, clients, or management.
If you don't think you’ll enjoy the job part of your job, it may not be worth it just so you can work from home.
5. Could I actually have too much time alone?
For an Introvert, is there such a thing? Yes, there really is. Even the most ‘introverted’ Introvert needs some human interaction. If you get what you need from family and friends, your social life and non-work activities, then not seeing people during your workday might be fine, even ideal.
But if you live – and now work – alone, and choose not to socialize after work hours, you might find that you’ve been relying on the little social transactions that are part of working away from home more than you realize. You may be surprised to find that you miss seeing people at work after all.
And it’s not just about co-workers. Don't forget the other small human interactions that are indirectly related to your workday. Think: the barista who hands you the coffee order you pick up on the way to work; the regulars at the deli (or park) where you eat lunch; the nice lady in accounting you ask a question now and then. The random mix of nameless but familiar faces you see in a typical day at the office all add up to part of your work-related social life.
You can, of course, compensate for this loss of people in your workday by reaching out to people in other parts of your life. But if you know you won’t, then that’s one more thing to consider before deciding to take a work-from-home job.
These and other possible downsides of some work-from-home jobs certainly don’t mean that working from home isn’t a good fit for Introverts. And even if you find some of these questions give you pause, you can still find ways to work around the challenges.
It’s just good to have a realistic view of what you may be dealing with and to choose wisely when considering a particular work-from-home job.