It’s a question that consulting candidates are asking with greater frequency: Can I work from home?
“Someone asks me that at least once a day,” says Caitlin Gentry, a recruiter at Run Consultants. “Usually the answer is ‘no,’ but I’ll always ask the client if I think remote work is a possibility.”
Many IT jobs, of course, don’t require your regular presence onsite, and some clients actually prefer that you stay at home. After all, it saves them the cost of consultant travel and expenses.
Physical space is also a consideration. Some clients don’t have room at their facility for a team of contractors, making remote workers a sensible solution.
You may be happier and more productive at home (and there are studies to back you up on this), nevertheless, there are plenty of good reasons why you need to be at the customer site week in and week out. Here are just a few:
- Communication is streamlined when you’re onsite. While it’s true you can write code from your couch, most large-scale enterprise software projects benefit from candid and real-time communication. Being onsite lets managers give you immediate feedback and ask you questions, and lets you give input to others face-to-face and in meetings. Onsite collaboration, when done effectively, should ultimately make the project more efficient and improve the end results.
- The customer culture is critical. Being in the customer’s environs and interacting with the internal champions and end users is an important success factor for large IT projects. You’ll gain a better understanding of their needs, and you’ll earn their trust. Your positive relationship with the customer can actually increase adoption of the solution, as they’ll be more receptive to knowledge sharing and information transfer.
- The client may not support remote work. Some customers have policies that discourage stay-at-home workers, and we’re obliged to adhere to those. In other cases, the customer may not have the technology to support remote, distributed workers. There may be firewalls to configure or cloud-based sharing environments to set up or additional licenses that need to be procured for videoconferencing, all of which represent cost and hassle for the customer. Healthcare clients, in particular, may have security concerns and wish to limit remote access to sensitive data.
- It’s a matter of trust. Remote work is a tough ask at the beginning of a project but can be a goal for later in the engagement. A transition from onsite to remote work is not uncommon, but typically requires you to build a track record of success and trust through quality work at the client site. After you’ve proven yourself, a manager is more apt to respond favorably to a discussion about reducing your travel.
- We want you there. You’re not just representing yourself when you show up at a client site, you’re representing our company. Your knowledge and skills make us shine, and we’re proud to have you and all of our consultants represent us in the marketplace. Equally important, your feedback about the project and the customer helps us improve and provides intelligence that can lead to future business.
Remember, if you are looking to work remotely full-time or want to limit travel, it’s best to let your recruiter know up front, rather than to take an onsite job and hope you can ultimately transition.
We always note your travel and work preferences in your candidate profile. That helps us better match you to prospective jobs that best fit your needs.