Since the pandemic, nearly 56% of US workers have a job that is remote-friendly. But, today, more and more workers are being called back into the office. If you’re one of them, you’re probably saying but, “I want to work from home!”
And, you’re not alone. Roughly 26% of workers now work remotely, and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.
Remote workers save money. The average worker spends a whopping $8,466 each year on common commuting costs or about 19% of take home pay, according to Bankrate. By working remotely, those costs are slashed if not entirely eliminated.
Remote workers save a ton of time by not commuting. The average commute in America is about 27.5 minutes one way for a total of 55 minutes spent commuting every work day. That comes out to 275 minutes per week or 13,750 minutes each year!
By working remotely full time, you can save nearly 230 hours annually.
What would you do with all that extra time? Sleep in? Relax? Help get your family out the door in the morning? Exercise?
The State of Remote Work
In Buffer’s Annual State of Remote Work Report, 98% of respondents would prefer to work from home (at least partially) for the rest of their careers! Since you’re here, we’re going to guess you too want to work from home.
Keep in mind, just because everyone wants to work from home doesn’t mean everyone should work from home.
If you’re ready to call your home your office and your office your home, there’s some important steps you should take to turn your work from home dreams into reality.
Question 1: What Kind of Work from Home Job Makes Sense for You?
I get a lot of emails and Facebook messages that say, near verbatim:
“I want to work from home, please help.”
And, if you’ve ever taken the time to email me, you know I always respond and give the best advice I can — if I don’t know the answer, I’ll point you in the right direction.
The problem with the general statement, “I want to work from home,” is it’s just too broad. Working from home is not a one-size-fits-all position. There are seemingly endless ways to make a living from home.
Know Your WFH Type
Once you know you’d like to work from home, the very next thing you need to do is decide which kind of work from home job is right for you:
Your answers to those questions will go a long way in helping you have a more successful remote job search. As a reminder, work from home jobs can usually be divided up into six main types:
1. Full-Time Employee
You’re hired on as an employee who just happens to work remotely. Most times, this entitles you to benefits and stable pay. Taxes are taken out of your paycheck for you.
2. Part-Time Employee
Also gives you “employee” status which means you can count on greater stability. You may not be benefits eligible as a part-time telecommuter but you will have taxes taken out of your paycheck.
3. Independent Contractor
As an independent contractor (IC), you provide your services to a company on a per-contract basis. This means, once your contract is up, you might not have any more work. Similarly, your contract may end without warning. There’s no guarantee of work and you’re responsible for your own taxes and fill out a 1099.
Freelancers offer their services for sale and choose which projects they work on and when. You’re in charge of finding your own work, setting your rates, and collecting payments. Freelancers are also in charge of paying their own taxes on money earned. Writing, virtual assistant, graphic design, and typist are all common work from home freelance careers.
5. Side Hustler
Not everyone wants to work full-time or even part-time to make money from home — I get that. So, if you’re looking for a way to earn a few bucks here or there, you should look at extra-money making gigs. These typically don’t require a resume or application to fill out. Instead, you sign up on a site to earn extra money — surveys and usability testing are two popular examples of ways to earn extra money from home.
6. Home Business
Anything you do from home — whether it’s a daycare business, flipping products for profit on Amazon, or launching a profitable blog are considered a home-based business. You’re completely in charge of running your home business as you see fit and your success will depend on how much you put into it.
Apply to the Right Positions
There’s no sense in applying to jobs that aren’t right for you. Save your time, energy and efforts going after the right kinds of jobs — not every and any work from home job or opportunity out there.
If you need benefits, go for full time employee positions over contract roles. But, for those that need just a little extra here or there, try side hustles. Really, it all depends on what your ultimate career goal is.
Question 2: Do you have a home office?
Now that you (hopefully) know the type of remote employment you’re looking for, it’s time to take an honest look at your ability to actually work remotely.
If you’re not properly equipped to work from home, you’re gonna have a hard time finding a job. Period. But, depending on the type of employment you’re after, your home office requirements will vary.
Home Offices for Employee Jobs
Let’s say you’re looking for full-time employment from home with a company that offers benefits. Great! There are a number of companies that actually want you to work from home and will pay you a competitive wage and offer some pretty amazing benefits.
But, to land these jobs, you’re going to need a home office setup.
Home Office Basics
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a full-size copier, fax machine, and laminator — but you should have the basic makings of a home office:
- High-speed internet (typically hardwired to your computer — no WiFi or satellite connections most of the time!)
- Well-maintained computer
- Quiet, distraction-free place to work
- Comfy chair
- Basic office supplies — pens, paper, printer, etc.
In some cases, you may need a landline. This is especially true for popular at-home customer service jobs. Does this mean you should run out and install a landline? No! But, it means you should be receptive to getting one and know ahead of time if you can actually have one installed in your home or apartment.
It’s defeating, to say the least, to go through the application process, land an interview, and a soft job offer only to find you don’t meet the tech requirements or are otherwise incapable of maintaining a proper home office.
Home Office Requirements Examples
Most work from home companies are pretty good about listing their home office requirements before you even start the application process.
For example, Sitel has an entire section devoted to their home office requirements:
U-Haul provides similar information upfront before you apply too:
So, when you come across an at-home position that sounds perfect, remember to check the home office requirements first.
Home Offices for Non-Employees
If you’re looking for a non-employee position, i.e., freelance, contract, or home business, you don’t have to worry about your home office as much.
Remember, if freelancing is more your thing or you’re thinking of starting a blog, you probably won’t need anything more than a computer and internet connection.
Similarly, if you want to start a side hustle as an Amazon FBA seller, you can get by with a computer, smartphone, internet and printer and make some pretty good money with this minimal setup.
Again, it all goes back to the type of work you’re looking for. What you’ll need as an employee versus home office requirements as a freelancer/self-employed/home business owner are very different things!
Question 3: Can You Handle Distractions?
I’ve been working remotely for a decade. And, I’ll be the first to tell you, distractions are going to happen. You’ll hit your stride on an assignment and, boom, the doorbell rings. Or, you’ll get frequent calls from friends and family who ask for a ton of favors during the workday because, hey, you work from home and must not be doing anything more than watching Netflix, right?
Oh, and then there’s kids, pets, significant others, neighbors, and about a million other things that can make working from home difficult.
Remote Work is Not a Substitute for Childcare
My point is, you may not be able to devote the time and attention required to work from home, at least not full-time anyway.
Let’s pretend you have kids (maybe you do) — they may or may not be in school (unless it’s summer, then they’re home).
You’ll find it downright difficult to find a full-time work from home job if you have kids in your care during the day — I don’t care how great you are at multitasking — if you can’t provide a distraction-free, quiet home environment, you’re going to find it difficult to land a full-time employment. Impossible? No. But very, very, very difficult.
Now, don’t get discouraged if you’re not in the ideal place to work from home — you just have to get creative.
Help, My House is a Circus
I hear you. I’ve got a homeschooled child, two golden retrievers, three cats, and a lot of Amazon deliveries. Yet, I still manage to work remotely in a variety of roles over the last decade.
Don’t let a busy household stop you from making money from home — just figure out a way to work around your already busy schedule.
This will likely mean freelancing from home, starting a side hustle, or working as an independent contractor. Transcription, proofreading, virtual assisting, and writing all are great options to explore — but really, you’re only limited by what services you’re willing to offer as a freelancer.
Question 4: Will You Miss Working Outside the Home?
I’m an introvert. And most introverts love working from home. But, if you’ve ever worked an office job, you know that office politics are just a part of going to work. And while working from home means you miss the bad stuff, it also means you miss out on all the good stuff, too.
The camaraderie of coworkers, lunches out, impromptu happy hours, and other perks that come with a traditional office job don’t happen as easily when you work from home.
If you hate the rat race but love interacting with coworkers, enjoy break room banter, and count your officemates as some of your best buds, you might find that working from home is lonely for you. Yes, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with chats and video hangouts, but it’s just not the same as being in person.
I’ve heard of too many enthusiastic people start a work from home journey only to find they didn’t like it — and nine times out of ten, it was because they missed the daily human interaction an office job brings.
You know working from home has its perks, and for some people it equals work happiness but it’s not for everyone. Seriously consider how much importance you place on working alongside others in an office environment — if you can’t imagine working alone (save for an office cat), you may want to reevaluate your work from home ambitions 🙂
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