You’ve reached that point where you don’t want to work outside the home anymore – you’re ready to quit and find a way to work at home instead. There are many reasons why this can be tempting – the need or desire to care for young children or elderly family members, a too-long daily commute, a job that just really isn’t what you want. Whatever the reason, it’s rarely a good idea to just quit and hope a good work at home job comes along. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into first.
First, let’s look at some of the roadblocks you may face, some of the things that make working at home perhaps not quite as pleasant as you may think. If you’re considering working at home, after all, you’ve probably already thought of most of the positives. It’s the negatives that really determine whether or not you can successfully work at home, however.
Lots of Scams
This is the big one, and hopefully something you’re already aware of. It’s very easy to be scammed when looking for ways to work at home. You really have to be careful, and do your research when considering potential employers or business opportunities. The overeager and desperate fall for work at home scams all too easily.
Benefits Are Rarely Available
Few work at home jobs offer benefits such as health insurance. If you’re the one providing coverage for your family, this is a really big deal. And it’s not just health insurance; it’s dental insurance, a 401k, paid vacations and so forth that aren’t so common when you work at home. If you need benefits, you’ve just cut way down on your potential employers. If you want to work for yourself, you’ll have to figure out deal with these things all on your own.
My husband gets the usual benefits from his job, so for us health insurance isn’t a problem. Retirement savings in my name, on the other hand, are definitely an issue we need to pay more attention to.
Many people find working from home too isolating. You have no coworkers stopping by when you’re at home, only the other residents of your home. Many people find this far too difficult to deal with and eventually decide they’d rather go back to work outside the home. Others find it perfect. It’s not too bad for me – I’m more of an introvert, but even I sometimes feel the need for more interaction with other adults than I get.
Too Many Distractions
There are a lot of distractions in your home, kids, pets, television, internet access, neighbors, etc. Quick distractions turn easily into longer term issues if you aren’t careful. For me, this is especially true of my kids, and believe me, I much look forward to the next school year, when they’ll all be in school at last! I’ll have to be very careful not to allow the other distractions around the house to get in the way when I have so many kid-free work hours available to me.
No one is checking up on you when you work at home, at least not directly. Your employer may pay attention to your productivity, or you may have a customer service position that requires you be on the phone at certain times, but there’s still no one right there able to see that you’re slacking off. Some people work well without supervision; others absolutely need it. You have to accept the responsibility that comes with greater independence when you work at home. Many people find a to do list very helpful in making sure they get done all the things they need to do each day.
Yes, flexible hours can be a negative, a big one! It’s very easy to work too many hours or too few when you have complete control of your schedule. Be ready to keep control of your work hours as you follow this more independent path, for the sake of your income as well as your family time and free time.
Income May Not Be Stable
Depending on what you do, your work at home income may not be as stable as your outside the home job income was. Home business incomes are rarely all that stable, especially in the early days. Jobs may pay on production rather than hourly or salary, and can also be highly variable. If you need a more stable income, make sure the job you take can provide that.
Within the past two years, I’ve earned as little as $1,000 in a month, and as much as $10,000 in a month (an incredibly exciting exception for me), and if I relied too much upon a particular number, we could have a lot of problems. Fortunately, we have a stable income from my husband, and while it’s not sufficient on its own, it’s enough that mine can vary without hurting our financial position significantly.
Once You’ve Faced the Negatives…
If the negatives haven’t scared you off, it’s time to look at making things a reality. As with any other job hunt, you’re usually better off if you start searching while you’re still employed. You’re less desperate for work this way, less likely to fall for scams because you need the money so badly, and many people believe you look better to potential employers if you’re currently working when you apply.
If you need help getting started, read my article on how to get started working from home for ideas.