Work-At-Home 101

Retro2
Back in the 20th century, work-at-home opportunities were limited to telephone support. Later, a few software gurus honed their skills at mountaintop retreats. Some of those gurus gave us high-speed internet and teleconferencing. Other, inspired by the terrain around them, brought us The Cloud.Now 13.4 million people work from home[1].

Different flavors

Today’s work-at-home options range from flexible, flextime, or non-traditional schedules to “road warrior” opportunities involving 50% travel. Sales people in real estate, insurance, and distributors often use the home phone rather than drive to the office. Freelance writers work from home when tables at the coffee shop are all taken.

There are many[2] reasons. ABC News recently suggested these jobs[3] as top work-at-home choices:

  • Virtual Assistant
  • Medical Transcriber
  • Translator
  • Web Developer/Designer
  • Call Center Representative
  • Tech support specialist
  • Travel Agent
  • Teacher
  • Writer/Editor
  • Franchise Owner

As you consider opportunities, beware those which seem too good to be true. Often, they are. Common scams include unexpected job offers with very general requirements, people with misspelled job titles who ask you to receive parcels, or any job which requires that you first purchase samples.

Beyond the scams

WorkAtHomeLook in the right places and you will find opportunities out there. Maybe one is right for you.
Maybe you are a parent. Maybe you are an athlete-in-training and need flexibility to attend triathlons. Maybe you’re a military spouse, moving every six months… from country to country.

Reputable companies have real work-at-home opportunities to offer.

Are you currently employed in a medium-to-large organization? If so, don’t overlook the possibilities at your current company. You may be able to reduce hours (and pay) for the benefit of more time at home. Does morning commutes or the smell of burnt microwave popcorn at 3:00 have you looking out the door? That might not be necessary. A flexed schedule might be possible.

First, hold those cards close. Don’t immediately march down to H.R., or corner your boss. Look online (from your home computer!) at your employer’s job postings. Maybe the corporate website boasts of things like flexibility and work-life balance. If you think your current employer might offer flex time, consider writing-up what you want to do. In that write-up, emphasize the benefits that the company will receive[4].

Job-seeker hints

If you are not employed, or if your current employer seems unlikely to allow “remote” or “flex scheduling”, try using those keywords on job boards and in search engines. Try other keywords if those lead you to postings which say “NO remote/telecommuting” and “NO flex scheduling”. Beyond the search engines, one online directory[5] highlights more than 200 companies that have offered work-at-home opportunities. On a larger scale, another directory[6] lists more than 17,000 jobs in 50 career categories. That directory charges $14.95 monthly, with substantial discounts for longer subscriptions.

At some point, you may be interviewing for a job where there has been no mention of work-at-home or flexible scheduling. That, again, would be an occasion for discretion. Hold your cards close. You may otherwise find yourself suddenly distant from that future boss who moments earlier had seemed so warm and welcoming[7].

[1] Source: money.cnn.com 10/04/2012
[2] Top 10 Benefits of Working from Home
[3] abcnews.go.com: 10 Best (and Real) Work-at-Home Jobs
[4] huffingtonpost.com: 4 Ways to Negotiate Flex Time
[5] Work-at-Home Jobs Company Directory
[6] flexjobs.com: paid directory
[7] workoptions.com: How to Negotiate Flexibility During a New Job Interview

George Pond

If the internet is like a sea, George is the guy you see fishing along the shore. All sorts of good and bad ideas surface each day. He casts out for career development tricks and tools, hoping to land the best of them to share at WageScope.com.

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