November 20th, 2017

Working At Home During The Holidays – How Do You Balance It All?

Working At Home During The Holidays - How Do You Balance It All?

Here comes the holiday season. A wonderful time of year to see family and friends, share good meals and have fun together. When you work at home, however, the balance between work and family can be especially challenging. Working at home during the holidays can be more challenging yet.

Sometimes the balance must be tilted one way or the other. You may have a work at home job that requires you to work certain hours on a holiday. People who work outside the home face that same problem. Your boss says you have to work, you work if you want to keep the job. It can be that simple.

Other times it’s harder to find that balance. You need to make a living, but you want to form those happy memories as a family during the holidays. Everyone wants you to join in the fun, but you can’t spare as much time off work as they’re asking. Working at home isn’t necessarily as flexible as some think, after all.

Treat Your Work At Home Job As A Real Job

Your work at home job is a real job; prioritize it. Sometimes your work shift will require that you miss the family dinner or whatever. If you’ve ever worked retail, food service, public safety, or healthcare jobs, you know that routine. It’s a part of the job and you deal with it, even if some family members don’t understand.

It can be particularly difficult to explain that your work at home job isn’t always flexible about these things. You may find that some family members still don’t understand that a work at home job is every bit as real as any other job and that it puts certain demands on your time.

Let family members know when you can see them as early as possible. This gives them time to get used to the idea that you may not be able to show up when they want you to.

Don’t call in sick on a holiday if you can help it. It will make you look bad with your employer unless you’re really sick. This is particularly true if you have a seasonal work at home job. If you’re hired to work just for the holiday season, you are probably required to work the holidays themselves.

If you must have holiday time off, ask for it as early as possible. Some jobs won’t give it regardless. Holiday shifts may be required. If a holiday is a busy time for your employer, you’re pretty much stuck. It’s one of the disadvantages of working at home during the holidays.

It’s no fun missing out on family events, but it can be worse to miss out on income your family needs.

Prioritize Your Home Business

Your home business may be extra busy during the holidays, or things may slow down. This depends on the kind of home business you’re running.

If things slow down, you may have it easy when it comes to making family time, so long as nothing comes up. You take the time off and have fun. Make up the time as needed a little later.

If your home business is busy during the holiday season, you need to work on it as necessary. As it is your business, you may at least be able to schedule yourself around the big family celebrations. That’s not true for all home businesses, but it is for many.

Then again, it might be time to consider hiring a virtual assistant. Start using one before the holiday season starts so that they are familiar with your needs.

Prepare In Advance

If there’s anything you can do to prepare things in advance, do so. If you have a blog, work some extra hours before the holidays to set up your blog posts. Load up your Hootsuite account to handle appropriate social media posting for you.

If you ship out physical products, organize and package them so that all they need is a mailing label and postage when it’s time for them to go. The more you do in advance, the less time it will take you when you would rather be with family.

Sometimes you will need to lose some sleep to get things ready in advance. A few late nights or early mornings can greatly increase your family time during the holiday season.

Are You Hosting?

If you’re hosting family events, all of this gets even more complicated. Do your best to avoid hosting during times that you might have to take calls or otherwise need a quiet workspace. The more people there are in your house, the harder it will be to get them to be quiet for you.

If you must have quiet work time, talk it over with your guests before they arrive, especially if children are involved. It’s so hard to keep excited children quiet, and kids are always excited at family gatherings. Make plans for how the noise level will be kept down and everyone will be kept out of your way while you work.

If your home office is the guest room, these discussions are particularly important. You don’t want someone coming in to grab something from their suitcase when you need to work. Even if you don’t need quiet in that moment, they’re all too likely to want to stop and chat a while.

Make Your Celebrations Flexible

I grew up with very flexible family holiday celebrations. Combine divorced parents with grandparents who would like a visit, and these things took days sometimes. Christmas gatherings could take until New Years sometimes.

To be honest, sometimes that was a part of the fun. Lots of parties, food, and presents over many days isn’t a bad thing. Tiring, especially for the adults, but not bad.

Accepting that some of your holiday celebrations may not happen on the day itself can take some of the stress away. Do you really have to see everyone right on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, or any other holiday?

Come to an agreement with family and friends on when you will see them. It may take some time for some family members to accept that they don’t get to see you at their traditional time, but that’s often the way it has to be.

Your religious observances may be more difficult to move, but as your work rarely takes the entire day, you should be able to find a way to manage that part of your holiday celebrations.

Know When To Say No

Family holiday celebrations often come with a lot of requests, even when you aren’t hosting. Bring this, make that, you’re in charge… you know the routine.

If people start asking you for more than you have time to handle, say no. It’s not always easy, especially when it’s something you have done in the past. Saying no, however, can greatly decrease the stress you feel over the holidays, and that’s a huge help.

Relax And Have Fun

Finally, when your work schedule allows, relax and have fun with your family. One of the best parts of working at home during the holidays is that you don’t have a huge commute to get back home. You’re there.

Close your home office door if you have one and make some real time for your family when you don’t need to work. Leave your social media alone. Focus on what your family and your holidays mean to you. Time enough to think about work later.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 13th, 2017

Is Medical Transcription Still A Viable Work At Home Career?

Is Medical Transcription Still A Viable Work At Home Job?

My very first work at home job was as a medical transcriptionist. There weren’t as many people working at home then, and I considered myself quite lucky. I had so many people asking me how to get into medical transcription that I started this site, so I could more easily share the many work at home options. But times have changed, and the question has become whether medical transcription is still a viable work at home career.

That’s a tough question.

Looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook, medical transcriptionists will not be in as much demand as other medical professionals, with a 3% decline currently expected from 2016-2026.  Compare that with medical records and health information technicians, where the outlook says an employment increase of 13% is expected. That category includes medical coders and cancer registrars.

This doesn’t mean you can’t become a medical transcriptionist. It means you will need to be prepared for transcribing with current technology. This includes voice recognition software and electronic medical records.

Most medical transcription jobs now are editing jobs. You make sure that the transcription created by voice recognition software is accurate. This means that it requires fewer transcriptionists to get the work done.

Medical Transcription Training Is Vital

If you want to do medical transcription, you have to get trained. This isn’t something you can do on your own. That was possible once, but not now.

You need to consider schools accredited by AHDI. There’s a list of approved schools on their website. Graduating from a program approved by AHDI is a huge help in finding work after graduation. Many employers require it.

The school I have long recommended is Career Step, which is on the AHDI list. The company I worked for when I was a medical transcriptionist (then Medquist, now M*Modal), still hires transcriptionists who have a certification from an accredited transcription school, and that includes Career Step.

The training through Career Step is self paced, within reason. There is a maximum time you can take, and if you’re serious about your training, it should be plenty of time. Training at home is great practice for working at home.

You Need A Good Workspace And Equipment

If you’re going to do medical transcription at home, you need a good workspace and the right equipment.

The workspace is important due to patient privacy. You’re working in medical records. Your training will help you to understand HIPAA and what it requires of you as a professional.

Employers may or may not provide equipment. You don’t need a lot beyond what you probably already have. You need a computer, monitor, foot pedal, headphones and high speed internet. Your internet connection may need to be wired, not wireless, for security reasons.

Your employer will often provide the software required. If they don’t give you a text expander, however, I strongly recommend getting one. There are many words and phrases that you will type over and over again as a medical transcriptionist. It’s much faster to type a few letters and have them expand into the word or phrase you need.

Reference books can also be important. When you know where to look online, you can find quite a bit of information on the internet, but sometimes a book is easier to use, as well as more accurate. You will get some books with your training, but you may find others necessary as you work.

Work Hours

Medical transcription work hours may be flexible, but you will need to check with your employer. Some only require a certain number of hours, while others expect to know exactly when you will be working. You may still be able to set your schedule in those cases, but you will need to do so in advance. Other employers may set your schedule for you.

Part time and full time positions are often available.

Overall, I still consider medical transcription a viable work at home career, provided you are aware of the changes in technology and can keep up. The expectations employers have of their transcriptionists have changed over time. You need to keep up to be certain that you are ready for any future changes. Get good training, and it may qualify you for the work at home job you want.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 8th, 2017

How To Start A Productive Work At Home Day

How To Start A Productive Work At Home Day

Being productive is one of the great challenges of working at home. There are a lot of distractions, and usually no one to tell you to get to work. You may not even have an exact time that you have to be logged on, depending on what you do. It’s all too easy to let things slide. If you’re serious about your work, you need to plan to have a productive work at home day.

Treating your work as seriously as you would any other job is vital. You wouldn’t take random time off work in an outside the home job, at least not if you expected to stick with it. Don’t do that with your work at home job or home business, or it won’t get you anywhere.

Tips For A Productive Work At Home Day

There are a lot of little things that go into a productive work at home day. I don’t worry about what I wear, although some find it beneficial to dress professionally. That’s one of those “do what works for you” things.

Eat First

Have something to eat before you start working. It’s hard to be productive when you’re hungry and all too easy to take an early break if you haven’t eaten yet. A good meal or a solid snack, depending on the time of day you start working, will give you the energy you need to get off to a good start.

If you prefer to start your day off with some coffee or other caffeine, get that too. You may prefer to keep your drink with you at your desk, but you can prepare it before you start to work. I keep a bottle of water at my desk so that I always have something healthy to drink.

Settle The Distractions

Who or what is likely to distract you while you work at home? The kids? The pets? Laundry or dishes? What about the television? Do what needs to be done to handle these distractions.

With kids, you may need to have childcare to keep them happily out of the way while you work. This may be as simple as having your spouse or other family member take care of them, but it could also mean paying for daycare. Older kids can simply be told to let you work during your work hours and to only interrupt if necessary.

Stuffing your kids in a box will only keep them busy for a little while

Household chores shouldn’t be allowed to mess up your productive work at home day. Best is if you can handle them at other times of the day, or assign them as chores to the kids. Your spouse should also be handling an appropriate share. How these things are handled depends on the ages of your kids and your spouse’s availability, of course.

Get Some Exercise

A little bit of exercise before you start your workday can make you more productive. I used to walk my kids to school each morning, but we no longer live that close to the school. Two hilly miles in each direction is a bit much, especially for the kids. Exercise has to be more planned now.

A quick walk around the block or a short trip to the gym may be a good plan. You can also exercise at home with little or no equipment.

Define Your Work Hours And Stick To Them

Having a defined work schedule is a huge boost to your productivity. Starting on time is especially important. A late start makes it too easy to let other things slide.

Your Browser Can Help With A Productive Work At Home Day

Your internet browser can make it easier or more difficult to be productive. I have mine set up so that it opens with the pages I like to start my work day with. No irrelevant distractions the instant I start it up, just what I need to work. I may not always choose to start work with the pages my browser opens for me, but at least they aren’t giving me a chance to go in the wrong direction.

Don’t let social media distraction you. If you need to set up posts and reply to work related things, that’s one thing. It’s entirely another to start socializing with friends on social media.

Have A Plan

The more you know about what you need to get done, the easier it is to have a productive work at home day. You’ll spend less time sitting and staring at the keyboard, trying to figure out what to do.

There are many ways to plan for the next day. If you have a work at home job, what you do may be defined by the job, no need to plan on your own. In a customer service or technical support job, for example, your plan is probably to log on and help customers.

If you run your own business or have a more creative job, you need to plan. You can write out what you need to do each day, for example. You might have a daily or weekly routine you go through. A day might be set aside for a particular task that isn’t a part of your routine.

Having something of a daily or weekly routine is a huge help. Many bloggers, for example, will write blog posts in batches and schedule them out. This leaves them free for marketing and promotion the rest of the week. Others will prefer to write and promote every day. Your routine is something you create yourself and test to make sure it works well for you.

Some things will be of higher priority than others. Get these done first, even if they’re not your favorite part of the job. Sometimes especially if they aren’t your favorite part of the job. You still have to get everything done. Consider what’s most important to get done each day when you make your plan.

Keep Your Work Space Comfortable

Having a comfortable place to work helps a lot. This includes a good office chair and desk, along with pleasant decor. If clients never see your office, it can be all your style. If others do see your office, even if only over video, you need to to be comfortable, yet professional. Your decor shouldn’t get in the way of your productivity, of course.

Don’t Multitask

Multitasking is not effective. Don’t try to work on two things at once. It’s not a good use of your time.

If you need to write something, write. Don’t have a chat with someone open – you’ll lose your train of thought. Background music is fine, but don’t try to watch videos while you’re working on something else, even if the video is relevant to your work. You won’t benefit as much as you should from the video, and your work will progress more slowly than it would otherwise.

Don’t Let A Bad Start Ruin The Rest Of Your Day

We all have bad starts to our days sometimes. The key to having a productive work at home day is to not let it ruin the rest of your day. You may have started work late due to a sick kid, your internet going down or other household emergencies, but that doesn’t have to keep the rest of your day from being productive. Do the best you can to work around problems as they come up.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 30th, 2017

Important Factors You Should Consider In A Remote Job

Important Factors You Should Consider In A Remote Job

When you want to find a remote job, it’s easy to forget the other things you should consider. There are a lot of things that go into making a job the right match. The ability to work at home should not be the only thing you think about. Here are some other factors you should consider in a remote job.

Salary

How much do you need to earn from your job? You won’t want to stick with a job if it doesn’t pay enough for you to live on. There are times when you will need to accept a job at a lower salary than you would like, but for the long run, salary is important.

Employee or Contractor?

Many companies prefer to hire remote workers as independent contractors rather than employees. This has tax implications for you. Your employer does not withhold taxes if you are an independent contractor.

Benefits

What kind of benefits does the company offer? If the job is part time, there may be few to none. A full time remote job, on the other hand, may offer benefits. You may be able to get health insurance, paid vacation, 401k and more. Some even offer gym memberships.

I have also seen companies offer remote workers a budget for renting a coworking space. This gives them a more professional space where they can interact with other people.

Do You Ever Go To The Office?

Not all remote jobs are done entirely away from the office. Some require you to go to the office in person. How often you go in varies quite a bit from employer to employer. Some will want to see you every week, while others may only need your presence once a year or so.

How Strict Are Work Hours?

Just because you have a remote job doesn’t mean you can choose your work hours. Many employers want their remote workers to work some standard hours. This makes collaboration easier. It’s very hard to plan meetings or discuss a project with coworkers if you all work your own hours.

How Do You Keep In Contact?

There are a lot of ways to keep in contact with remote workers. Slack is a popular option for keeping in contact. It allows teams to chat, share files, and more. Apps such as Dropbox and Trello are also popular choices. It helps if you are familiar with these.

Company Culture

You aren’t in the office, but company culture may still have an impact on you. Consider the number of hours you’re expected to work. What time of day are you required to work? Is this flexible or not? How much interaction will you have on a regular basis with coworkers? Will you work more as an individual or as part of a team?

Even when you’re remote, you will find that a small company is very different to work for than a huge one. Small companies may be more flexible, not just in the times they expect you to be available, but in considering new ideas. A bigger company, on the other hand, may offer more security.

Growth Opportunities

Just because you aren’t in an office doesn’t mean you aren’t interested in career growth. Find out what opportunities may be available to you. This includes job training, help with college tuition fees and professional certifications. Even if you don’t want to go into management someday, any help your employer gives to keep your skills up to date will be important.

Home Office Requirements

Depending on the kind of remote job you get, you may have to provide your own equipment. You will need a reasonably recent computer for most jobs. Your internet connection may need to be wired rather than wireless. If you are going to be on the phone a lot, they may require that you have an office with a door. You may need a noise cancelling telephone headset.

Some employers will give you a budget to buy equipment to suit their needs, while others may ship equipment to you, rather than depending on you to provide your own.

Work-Life Balance

One of the challenges many remote employees face is keeping a good work-life balance. It’s easy to spend too much time at work when your work is at home with you.

If a company expects a lot of on call time or overtime, it may be very difficult to maintain that work-life balance. Look for jobs that understand that when you close your home office door, your work day is over – unless you don’t mind the lack of balance.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

October 26th, 2017

7 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Hired For A Work at Home Job

 

7 Reasons Why You Can't Get Hired For A Work at Home Job

Looking for a work at home job is frustrating. You get past all the scams, find great looking jobs to apply for, and still no one will hire you. You might not even be getting to the first interview. What’s going on? Why is it so hard to get hired for a work at home job?

Hah. Wouldn’t you like to know?

No, seriously, wouldn’t you like to know?

I can’t really say why a particular person doesn’t get a particular work at home job, or any job for that matter. I’m not involved in processing resumes or making interview or hiring decisions. There are, however, some common reasons that make getting the job harder. Consider them, and see if they apply to you and your job search habits.

1. Applying for every job under the sun.

Otherwise known as throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. It’s not really effective, really messy, and turns potential employers off.

They can’t tell that you’re applying for every job everywhere, but what they can tell is that you aren’t paying enough attention to the specific requirements their job has. Work at home employers receive all too many applications from people who have no relevant experience and give no indication of having read the job listing beyond the phrase “work at home.”

Be picky about which jobs you apply for, and make it show on your resume. List the skills you have that they ask for in the ad. Use the same keywords if you can. You don’t want to copy their ad into your resume, but when you have a matching skill, use the same or similar phrasing. This will help you get through any automated sorting of applications.

Do not claim skills or experience you don’t have. It does you no good to claim a skill that way and then be unable to do that job or even talk up the skill correctly in the interview.

2. Poorly written resume.

Does your resume look professional? Does it reflect the skills and experience requested in the job posting? What about typos? Other mistakes?

If you aren’t getting anywhere in your job search, you may want to consider having a professional resume writer take a look at it. Yes, this costs money. Yes, you will still have to adapt it for each job you apply for. And yes, you may have to break it up into segments to cut and paste into online job applications with companies that don’t want the full resume. Make sure you answer every section on an online job application.

A well-written resume will make all of that easier. If you don’t want to pay someone else to do it, at least get a current book on resume writing and review your resume carefully. Styles have changed somewhat through the years, as most resumes are no longer submitted on paper. Make sure your resume works with current expectations. Remember, the company wants you to benefit them. Focus on their needs in your resume. If you were an excellent employee for someone else, share the specific achievements that might benefit a new employer.

Make certain that your resume is accurate as well. If a potential employer checks with your previous employers and finds out you gave them inaccurate information, you probably won’t get the job. This may include dates of employment and salary history.

3. You aren’t checking your spam folder.

The trouble with email is that it doesn’t always go where it should. If you have any sort of spam filtering on your email service, you might be missing emails from potential employers. If you don’t catch these, you could be missing out on opportunities.

I absolutely do not mean unsolicited emails from people claiming to offer work at home jobs. This is a common form of work at home scam. What you want to be on the lookout for is email from companies you have applied to. Sometimes these hit the spam box too, and if you aren’t checking, you’ll never know they wanted to hear from you.

4. You only apply to the big companies.

It’s very comfortable applying to the big companies that offer work at home jobs. They have solid reputations as employers. The problem is that everyone else does the same thing. They may get hundreds or even thousands of applications for a single opening. The odds that they’ll notice you aren’t that good.

So long as you’re careful, you can and should apply to smaller companies too. There are lots of smaller companies that use home based workers. They’re harder to find, but that means less competition when you do find them. You can find a lot of companies on social media sites such as LinkedIn.

Prepare yourself for your job hunt, network, and look for more places to find companies willing to hire people to work at home. All these things will improve the odds that you will get hired for a work at home job.

5. You aren’t changing things that aren’t working for you.

Sure, it’s easy to say that it’s hard to land a work at home job. It’s even true.

But if your job hunt is getting you any results, change the one thing you have control over: what you’re doing. Change your resume. Rethink the jobs you’re applying for. Take some time and just figure out why things aren’t working out.

Check your social media accounts too. Are they messing you up? Many employers review potential employees’ social media accounts. They can learn a lot about you this way, and if you aren’t prepared, your social media presence can damage your chances toward a job.

6. You aren’t prepared for interviews.

If you’re getting as far as the interview but not getting the job, something’s right with your resume but wrong with your interviewing skills. You need to prepare better for interviews.

Read up on how to interview for a job successfully. Have questions ready, not just about things like salary and benefits, but about the company and the job. Remember, employers want to know how you can benefit them. They don’t want you to focus on how they can benefit you when they haven’t even offered you the job yet.

Be prepared to state why you’re a match for the job. Wanting to get hired for a work at home job is not enough. That’s about you, not about the job.

If the interview is over the phone, you don’t have to look professional, but you certainly have to sound professional. It may help to practice phone interviews with a friend or family member. Just as with an in-person interview, make sure you’re on time for a phone interview. If you miss that call you can’t bet on them calling you back.

7. You don’t follow up when it’s appropriate.

This one isn’t relevant to all employers. Some very specifically request that you not follow up on applications or interviews. If that’s the case, follow their instructions.

Other companies, however, welcome inquiries as to how your job application is going. They’re fine with you calling up and asking about your application. It may even show them that you’re strongly interested in the position.

A thank you note may also be appropriate after an interview. It’s not always necessary, especially if the company prefers that you do not contact them until they say you have the job, but it can be useful at other times.

What Does It Take To Get Hired For A Work At Home Job?

It doesn’t take anything all that unusual to get hired for a work at home job. Just as with any other job, you have to be qualified for the job you’re applying for. You have to impress the interviewer.

The main difference you may expect between a work at home job and an outside the home job is questioning about your home office setup. Interviewers shouldn’t ask about your family – that’s generally off limits for legal reasons. Your ability to work at home, on the other hand, is a legitimate concern.

Some jobs will want to know how quiet your workspace is. If you’re talking to people on the phone, they may want to know that there won’t be any background noise.

If the company is not providing your equipment, they may want to know what kind of computer you have, your internet speed and so forth. They may want to know if you have wired connections for your phone and internet, rather than wireless. These questions may have been on the application, but don’t be surprised if they come up again in an interview.

You will probably also be asked about how comfortable you are with remote work. If this is your first work at home job, you won’t have direct experience to refer to. Instead, think of times you have been independent as you work, and how well you work without direct supervisions. Have examples ready if at all possible.

Overall, the process may not be all that different from landing any other job. You have to convince the employer that you are the best person for the job. Keep your focus on that, and maybe it won’t be too hard to get hired for a work at home job.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.