Certain people just seem to have a knack for numbers and analyzing data. They see a whole slew of code or data, and it immediately makes sense to them. They can see patterns in the data, they understand how to analyze it to extract the most meaning, and they can easily help others understand what the data is telling them.
Other people don’t understand this type of work quite so easily, and that’s okay! Each one of us has special skills and talents that make us ideal for particular jobs.
If you’re keen on data and numbers, a career as a data scientist might be a good option for you. Data science is a very interesting profession. This career requires a person to analyze digital data and interpret it in a way that yields valuable insights.
For example, as a data scientist, you might examine the statistics of a website’s traffic. Exploring how many people visit the website, where they’re from, and what kind of device they’re using to access the website can prove hugely beneficial to the website owner.
For example, if 90 percent of website visitors use a smartphone, it might make sense for the website owner to prioritize improving the mobile experience of the site.
Likewise, information like this can be very valuable from a business perspective. It can help with important decision making whether it be financial decisions, marketing plans, or decisions regarding the way customers interact with a brand.
You might be interested in this field of work but are curious to find out if a data scientist has the ability to work from home. This is a perk that many professionals enjoy, whether it be one or two days a week they can stay at home, or they work full time from their home office and periodically check in with their supervisor when necessary.
Let’s take a look at the job of a data scientist and how it can be done from home.
Have the Technical Components in Place
Working from home usually requires a bit more than just an internet connection…
For starters, many companies might require that you use a virtual private network (VPN) for added security. You’ll likely have to login to a company’s system as well, which will require credentials from the IT department at work.
Having fast internet is certainly a bonus when you’re working from home. Whether you’re looking at a database, analyzing data, or creating a presentation to explain what you’ve found in the data, having fast (and reliable) internet is a must.
If you live in a rural area, this could be a problem. While many cities have gigabit internet, some rural areas might be lucky to have speeds over 100Mbps. In addition, some locations don’t have typical internet service, like broadband. Instead, you might have to rely on satellite-based internet to get service where you live.
Working from home is, of course, all about access and speed. If you can’t get reliable internet service to access your work online and complete your tasks in a reasonable amount of time, then working from home might not be in your future.
Make Use of Collaboration Tools
Working from home means that you aren’t in the office to answer your colleagues’ and superiors’ questions about projects that you’re working on.
What’s more, when you’re a data scientist, you often work as part of a much larger team. This means that you need to be able to collaborate with your office-based peers (and others who work from home) and do so in a way that’s fast, easy, and reliable.
Having collaboration tools at your disposal will certainly make working remotely much easier. Tools like Asana and Monday give you the power to create projects, update outcomes, and communicate with team members in an easy-to-use format.
More than that, these collaboration tools keep everyone up to date and the materials for each project neatly organized – if you can all put in the time and effort to make these tools as effective as possible. You’ll need to stay on top of your tasks and be diligent about updating your colleagues so that everyone understands who is doing what and when things need to be done.
Communication is Key
Going hand in hand with using collaborative tools is being committed to excellent communication.
Working remotely doesn’t mean that you can be unplugged and not answer your phone, texts, or emails. Far from it! In fact, it’s even more important that you focus on being a good communicator when you’re working remotely.
When you’re in an office, a colleague might be able to pop their head over their cubicle and ask you a quick question, which you can then answer promptly. But when you’re working remotely, that quick question might turn into an all-day affair if you don’t maintain open lines of communication.
Now, you don’t need to be glued to your phone, and you shouldn’t feel as though you need to check your email every 90 seconds, either – doing so would cripple you from being able to do your work.
But what you should do as a work-from-home data scientist is find a good groove with regard to the frequency with which you check your email and messages. Perhaps you do a quick check-in every 30 minutes. Maybe you stretch that to an hour. Whatever the case, be consistent, that way you have dedicated time for work and dedicated time for communicating with your colleagues and superiors.
You Need a Dedicated Office Space
As noted earlier, working remotely means that you can go to the local cafe to work or hit the road and work from anywhere in the world.
And while those things are certainly possible, for the most part, remote work still requires that you have a dedicated office space.
In other words, don’t flop down on the couch with your laptop in your lap. Working like that for hours on end will give you all kinds of aches and pains!
A better solution is to have some sort of dedicated space where you can work. You don’t necessarily need a private home office, though those are great. Even if you can find a spot in a corner somewhere to put a desk and a comfortable desk chair, your body will thank you.
Having a dedicated office space isn’t just about being physically comfortable, either. You also need a dedicated space for work that is as free of distractions as possible, free of clutter, and helps you focus on the tasks at hand.
For example, some data scientists choose to work at home because they have young children. Being able to work remotely means you can be home to take care of your little one while minimizing costs of child care.
But having your workspace amongst your kids’ toys isn’t going to do you any favors in the concentration department. Data science work is hard enough as it is – you don’t need loud toys and rambunctious kids to distract you from your work.
So, strive to find a time of day and a place in your home that affords you the peace and quiet you need to work. As discussed before, you might work early before your kids are awake and then work late after they’ve gone to sleep. Of course, life happens quickly, and sometimes things go awry with your plans. You won’t always have the peace and quiet you need, but at the very least having a desk and chair where work can get done is vitally important.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t give you license to act unprofessionally or unethically.
For example, if you have frequent Zoom meetings with your coworkers or clients, be sure that you’ve blocked that time out and that there will be no distractions on your end. If you have a family, ask them to leave the house if possible so you can have your meeting in peace.
Likewise, dress the part and look professional for your Zoom meetings. While some people dream of working from home in their pajamas, it’s simply unprofessional to join a video call while wearing your Spongebob pjs.
When working from home, you should approach your work with the same gusto that you would working from the office. This means actually working on tasks when you say you will, not being distracted by your phone or what’s on TV, and billing your time only for the time you’ve worked. When working remotely, it’s easy to be distracted and it’s easy to fudge the numbers when it comes to hours worked. Of course, doing so is completely unethical and has no place in business whether you work in an office or at home.
Working From Home Might Be Earned
If you are new to the field of data science or you have just started out at a new company, your supervisors might not be comfortable with having you work from home full time. They may allow you to work from home starting out just a day or two each week and then you can work your way up to full work weeks from home.
This is simply to build trust with your supervisors and management so they believe you will be working on what you are supposed to do rather than goofing off. Again, this goes back to the professionalism discussion above – prove that you’re a professional and that you’re trustworthy, and your opportunities to work from home will likely expand.
Working From Home Offers Loads of Flexibility
The great thing about working from home is that you have a lot of flexibility to get your job done, for the most part.
As a data scientist, you might have deadlines that you need to meet, but your work can get done when it is convenient for you. Some people prefer to work later in the day and stay up late while others are early birds and prefer to get everything done before lunchtime. Likewise, you might prefer to work three or four long days and have a three or four-day weekend to enjoy some time off. In many cases, the flexibility of your schedule is one of the best perks of working from home.
Depending on what your company has communicated they want from you, you have a good deal of flexibility to work with regarding your work hours. You can even head out and work from a local café or library if you need a change of scenery or a quiet place to work. Additionally, if you enjoy traveling, the chances are good that you can work around your travel schedule and get your work done from locations all over the country or the world.
Working From Home Has Plenty of Advantages
Outside of the benefits of offering you great flexibility in terms of when and where you work, a home-based career as a data scientist has many other perks.
For starters, you can say goodbye to long commutes to work, the expense of driving or taking mass transit, and the stress of the morning and evening commute. Not only does working from home save you the monetary output of a commute, but you’ll also save time, which, depending on where you live, could be hours a day!
Another advantage of working from home as a data scientist is that you can achieve a better work-life balance. Instead, of being in an office for nine hours a day, you can work for a couple of hours and then take your dog for a walk, then work some more, and hop on your exercise bike for a few minutes, then work more, and sit outside in the sun to soak up some rays for a few minutes.
Many people that work from home also use their breaks from work to do practical tasks – do laundry, make the bed, do the dishes, and so forth. The point is that when you’re at home, all of these tasks are right there with you, so you can split your time a little better between work, chores, and play.
Data science has been called a sexy job in the past, and the reasons for that are many. It’s a growing field that’s in high demand that also pays well. But another aspect of this career that makes it so appealing is that it can also be done from the comfort of your own home – provided that you approach working from home in the right way.
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