You’ve reached that point where you don’t want to work outside the home anymore – you’re ready to quit your job and 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.
This is why it may be safer to quit your job after you’ve found a legitimate work at home job. You won’t be so desperate if you still have money coming in.
While many work at home scams are easy to spot, others are more challenging. Sometimes you may not realize that you are in the process of being scammed until during the supposed job interview. Scammers will use the names of legitimate remote employers to hide their scams and build trust.
Anytime you apply for a work at home job, make sure that you’re communicating with the person or company you think you’re communicating with. A Gmail address is one of many signs that it may be a scam.
Benefits Aren’t Always Available
Not all 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 an issue we need to pay more attention to.
A part of why a company may not offer benefits is because they hire remote workers for part time positions only. Other times you may be considered an independent contractor.
That said, there are a number of remote employers who offer benefits. Make this a part of your search if you need benefits.
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.
There are a lot of things you can do to handle your feelings of isolation when you work at home. Social media can be a start, as can sites such as Slack. While you have to balance your use of these with having a productive day, they can give you a bit of that social time you would get if you worked outside the home.
Planning time out with friends outside of work hours can also help. It won’t always be possible to get together with people in person, but that’s true no matter where you work. Just do the best you can.
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.
I found it to be a huge help when my kids went off to school. Suddenly I had hours of work time with no kids underfoot. It didn’t help with the other potential distractions, but every bit helps. There’s no stopping the cats, however. They love to be distracting.
Controlling distractions involves limiting social media, keeping the television and streaming media turned off, and enforcing boundaries with family and friends. It’s not always easy. But if you want to work at home successfully, you have to do it.
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.
Making an effective work at home schedule for yourself is vital. While your schedule may be set by your employer in some cases, other times it’s entirely up to you. It’s up to you to figure out how to make all this work. Experiment if you have to so that you find the most effective work at home routine you have.
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.
In the years that I’ve worked at home, I’ve earned as little as a few hundred in a month, and as much as $10,000. 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 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.
There are a number of things you need to do when you want to get started working at home. Planning your job hunt out is a huge help.
The first thing you need to do is update your resume for your work at home job hunt. Remote employers look for some of the same things other employers do, but they also expect more independence and initiative from their employees. They’re looking for people who will thrive without supervision.
The best work at home jobs for you will usually be related to what you do right now. Sometimes making the switch to working from home requires a complete career change, but look for positions that relate to skills you already have. It will make your search easier.
If you don’t have the skills for the remote jobs you want, get them! This may be something you can do before you quit your job to look for a work at home job or something you do after.
Jobs such as medical transcription and medical coding, for example, require training. You have to pay for that training yourself – employers won’t do it for you. But with training and possibly some outside the home experience, these may be great career choices.
You will also need to set up a home office. How you go about this will depend on the kind of work you will do from home. Do you need absolute quiet and privacy, or can you have other people come in while you work? These things make a big difference.
Be Ready For A Long Job Hunt
Many people find the amount of time it takes to find a work at home job frustrating. What they forget is that it takes a long time to find an outside the home job too.
One common estimate for job hunting is to expect to take one month of job hunting for every $10,000 a year you expect to earn.
This isn’t exact, of course. It varies tremendously by industry, the timing of your hunt and many other factors. But it gets the point across.
Job hunting isn’t fast. You’re fooling yourself if you expect otherwise.
If you need things to get moving faster, you have options. You may not always like them, but they’re there.
The first is to get an outside the home job if you’re unemployed at the current time. Earning money is a necessity for most people. Don’t dismiss opportunities only because they aren’t ideal.
You can also take on freelance opportunities. The work may not be as steady as you’d like, especially when you’re just starting out, but once again, it’s better than nothing. And sometimes freelancing can pay better than working for someone else. That freelance business you start might just be your new career.