The short answer is that some companies do offer their actuarial employees the freedom to work at home, while other companies discourage it unless there’s a good reason to. But, one of the biggest disadvantages with working from home is that it can limit your opportunities for advancement.
More about that later. First, let’s talk about some of the different work-at-home arrangements that you could have as an actuary.
The telecommuting (or work-at-home) policy for every company is different. Some companies strongly discourage it, while others are 100% for it.
There are benefits and drawbacks to arrangements for the company. Allowing it means happier employees, as well as more workspaces available in the office.
On the other hand, having many employees out of the office all the time means it’s difficult to harbor good working relationships among team members. It can also be hard to ensure that employees are really working their full 8 hours. There are also some privacy and security implications as well.
Nonetheless, it seems that there’s a fairly wide range of work-at-home options for actuaries.
The large majority of actuaries tend to work 100% of the time at work or just work at home approximately one day per week.
Much fewer actuaries work everyday at home.
Why actuaries like working at home
You can probably already come up with a few reasons why you’d like to be able to work from home.
Firstly, it gives you the freedom to work when it’s convenient for you, rather than having to show up in the office at a specific time every day for 8 hours.
It also means you don’t have to make the long commute into work. If you live far away from the office, working at home can be a huge time saver (and probably save you some stress too).
The option to telecommute also allows actuaries with children to be able to stay home with them while they’re sick or too young to go to school.
The ability to work at home can be especially beneficial if you’ve got important deadlines approaching. The office is often full of distractions, and can sometimes get noisy too. So having a quiet office to work in at home can make getting work done far easier and faster.
Why actuaries don’t like working from home
Surprisingly there are several reasons why actuaries may choose to go into the office whenever they can.
Primarily, it’s become they’d feel bored working at home all day without any co-workers to socialize with. One of the best ways to make work more enjoyable is to have people around you that you like spending time with.
Another reason that actuaries often choose to keep work at the office is because otherwise they’d spend far more of their personal time on work. When you work at home it can be really difficult to separate work time and family time. Often the two start blending together and work takes over more time than it should. Especially with a long to-do list.
The last point here is something that you may not even consider when you work from home. But it’s can actually have a big impact on your career!
It is that working from home can potentially prevent you from advancing your career. As you get into higher and higher levels of management as an actuary, it becomes more and more necessary for you to be in the office so that you can meet with other employees.
Sure, there’s the ability to video conference, but that can be a bit of a hassle especially if you had to do it for meetings all day long. Once you reach management level, its common to have at least 3-4 meetings per day. Some days may be filled entirely with meetings.
Not only that, but if you’re not in the office you miss out on the ability to interact and network with management and anyone else that may have an impact on your promotion in the future.
Oftentimes have a somewhat more personal relationship with your higher-ups can result in more opportunity for you. By working at home, it’s hard to create these long-lasting connections.
The logistics of working at home
Being an actuary is a very technical and complex job. In your first 1.5 – 2 years working as an actuary you’re going to be learning so much about actuarial work and your specific position. By the way, this post and video go into some of my responsibilities as an actuary.
During this learning period it’s most practical and convenient to be in the office where you can ask questions and get answers quickly.
So because of that, most new actuaries are limited to working in the office rather than at home.
Overtime work at home
Something that I haven’t already talked about is the possibility of working overtime hours at home. This could be at night or even on the weekends.
As an actuary, there are often certain times of the year when you’re busier and need to put in extra hours to get everything done. If you’re in a valuation position this is probably at the end of each quarter, and especially at the end of the year. Or if you’re in a pricing position, it may be whenever there’s a new pricing project deadline approaching.
Whatever the reason for overtime hours, employers are typically OK with actuaries working from home as long as the actuary is properly set up with everything needed to do so.