March 15th, 2017

What To Do When Your Kids Don’t Stay Out Of Your Work At Home Space

By now you’ve probably seen the video of Professor Robert Kelly being interviewed remotely by a BBC reporter getting interrupted by his kids dashing into his home office while he was in the middle of an interview. It’s pretty cute, but it was also a significant problem for him. There are lessons there to be learned by any work at home parent.

Lock The Door!

When you have an office door and cannot be interrupted, lock the door. That’s the simplest step that would have prevented the entire problem. He apparently usually does this, but a long day made it easy to forget this once. His daughter saw him live on TV, and decided to go find him. Adorable. It was also her birthday, so suffice it to say calm behavior wasn’t going to happen.

An office door lock can be anything from a basic indoor lock to unlock it to a key lock like you’d have on your front door. Which you get depends on how badly you need to keep people out and whether they know how to pop a simple lock from the outside.

Warn Them Ahead Of Time

You should also tell people in your home when you absolutely cannot be disturbed in your home office. Closing the door should be established as a warning to leave you to your work, but if it’s particularly important that you be left alone, say so!

Have rules for when you can be interrupted. We all want to know if the house catches fire.

Get Help

Make sure you have enough help to keep young kids out of your home office. I know that the professor’s wife was trying to keep them out, but sometimes kids get away. These things happen, but they can be minimized. His wife moved pretty fast when she realized the kids had gotten away, which is what you need when these things happen. Hopefully they have a better plan for next time.

Plan For Mistakes

Kids will be kids, and sometimes they will make mistakes and not obey the rules. Plan how you’re going to handle them.

If you’re going to be on video, such as happened here with Professor Kelly, think about how you will handle an interruption. I’ve seen a lot of people criticize him for pushing his daughter away. Some have gone so far as to call it abusive, which I disagree with. He wasn’t rough. It was perhaps not ideal, but I think it was a natural enough reaction in the moment.

Others have said he should have taken her onto his lap or given her a hug and sent her away. I disagree with that.

When you’re faced with this kind of situation, you need to have a plan for how you will appear. In an interview like this one, you would need to look professional. That’s hard to do when your little girl comes dancing in. You need to think about what you want people to see of you.

For some, the loving parent may be what you want others to see of you. Hugging the child or taking the child onto your lap may be the right move for the image you want to project.

For others, the ability to look professional even when parenthood interrupts you matters more. He wasn’t being interviewed about being a parent. He was talking about South Korea. He was discussing it as a professional. His abilities as a father were irrelevant at that time.

Talk to The Kids After

Even when the kids are little, you can talk to them after they interrupt you at work. Explain the rules you need them to follow again. The older child in this video is probably old enough to start getting the idea, although she’s not likely to obey the rules perfectly for some time. That’s why you need the door locked. But if you explain the rules even when you know they won’t obey, eventually they will get it.

Don’t Reward The Misbehavior

I’ve seen some people say the professor should have taken more time with his daughter, hugged her rather than push her away, but I understand why he reacted as he did. He needed to be professional during the high profile interview, and that doesn’t mean you prioritize the child instead. Hugs can happen later, off camera. There are times that parents need to be shown as taking their jobs seriously. Sitting a fidgety child on your lap won’t improve your professional image. Kids can learn that there’s a right time and a wrong time to demand a parent’s attention.

You can be nicer about things if you have the time. If you need the child away quickly, do what is appropriate to handle the problem. You can talk about the why of it all later. No hitting or anything like that, of course. A gentle push is not something I would consider a problem.

The big thing to remember is that it takes time for kids to learn to stay out of your work at home space. Kids get in the way sometimes when you work at home, and that’s just a part of the life you’ve chosen. Kids as young as the ones in this video won’t always understand the rules, and it is on you to make it easier for them to stay out of your space.

At least this professor had an office with a door he could close. It’s much harder to keep the kids out of your work space when you don’t even have that much. How well I remember!

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.

March 6th, 2017

8 Questions And Answers To Help You Get Ready To Work At Home

8 Questions And Answers To Help You Get Ready To Work At Home

Getting ready to work from home takes a little more than simply deciding that you want to work from home. I don’t just mean figuring out what you want to do or finding a job. That’s only the beginning. There are other questions you need to consider as you get ready to work from home.

What Are You Going To Do?

Here’s the big question, and one I get asked often. What are you going to do when you work from home? Can you make your current job into a telecommuting position or will you need a new job? Are you starting a home business or working for someone else? What about freelancing?

Knowing what you are going to do is the most important thing when you’re getting ready to work at home. I’ve had people ask me “how do I find a work at home job?” and I always tell them the first step is to figure out what kind of job they want. “A work at home job” is too vague and does nothing significant to help your job hunt. Go over your skills and experience to figure out what kind of jobs you’re looking for.

Where Will You Work?

The answer to this question isn’t “at home, duh!” Where in your home are you going to work? Can you dedicate a work space where you won’t be disturbed by others in your household? Will it be quiet enough?

Sometimes the answer will be “in my bedroom” or “on the sofa” or “at the kitchen table.” When that’s the best you can do, so be it, but it’s not ideal. If you get a work at home job that requires you to be away from all background noise, those answers may not be enough. If noise doesn’t matter and you can handle working in one of those areas because that’s all you’ve got, make it work the best you can.

The best place to work at home is in a room where you can close the door. This makes it easier to communicate nonverbally to spouses, kids and pets that you are not to be disturbed.

Wherever you work in your home, have a place for your work supplies where they will not be moved when you aren’t using them. You don’t want to have to search for your supplies when you need to get to work. You want to be able to sit down and work, with as few distractions as possible.

When Will You Work?

What work hours can you handle from home? Will you work full time or part time? Mornings, evenings, weekends?

If you have a work at home job, assume you will need to have at least four hours at a time available to work if you’re part time. Full time jobs may require you to do the full eight hours as a single shift, or they may allow you to split it. Home businesses, on the other hand, may be flexible enough that you can work whatever times you can spare. So long as you get enough done to earn the money you need and please your customers or clients you’ll be all right.

How Will You Cope Without Direct Supervision?

The lack of direct supervision is difficult for some people when working at home. Being in an office with people who will notice if you aren’t being productive can be very motivating. Being at home where no one else can see you? Perhaps not motivating enough.

Find ways to hold yourself accountable. If you have a work at home job, you probably have a supervisor who will do so as well, but that may not be enough. Pay attention to what it takes to keep you working hard enough and often enough. Set productivity goals that you track on your own, rather than relying on feedback from your employer.

If you’re running a home business, you will need to be even more careful. It’s very easy to slack off for days or weeks at a time when you’re the boss. If you have clients or customers, you will get some feedback about how promptly you’re fulfilling your obligations. Failures to do so will impact the reputation of your business. But you’re the one who has to be your own supervisor so that even the behind the scenes work is done in a timely manner.

How Will You Handle Distractions?

There are so many distractions around when you work at home. Kids, pets and your spouse are just the beginning. You should have a plan to handle each of these in appropriate ways. Use childcare for your kids if necessary – you probably can’t afford to lose your job due to your kids needing or wanting your attention.

There are more distractions than those. Chores that need to be done around the house can pull you away from work even when you shouldn’t spare the time. Who’s going to handle things when you need to have a plumber over? It’s not always easy to schedule your work and repair people.

Don’t let the television or your internet access keep you too distracted. You may well need your internet access to get your work done, but don’t abuse it. Keep other electronic distractions turned off or put away as much as possible.

How Will You Handle Social Isolation?

Many people find working at home socially isolating. You don’t have coworkers to chat with during breaks. Having someone come over for a chat is more often an obstacle to productivity, rarely a welcome break. You might have your kids around, or you might have them off with someone else, in daycare or at school. If you’re married, either you’re working when they’re at work, or working when they’re home to take care of the kids and other distractions for you. Either way, you don’t even have that much time with your spouse.

It can get lonely working at home.

There are things you can do to cope with this. Social media comes to mind. Don’t let it take over your day, but if you have some spare time, interacting with people online is one way to go.

If you work with a team, Slack is a popular option to keep communication open. It’s a tool that allows you to chat, make calls, share files and more. I see it listed on job descriptions sometimes.

You should also get away from the house and see your friends more often outside of work hours. One of the best ways to avoid feeling isolated to to make sure you have a social life! Don’t let working at home completely take over your life.

What Tools And Supplies Will You Need?

Most work at home jobs don’t require too much special in the way of equipment. A reasonably current computer, monitor and internet connection will do it for many jobs and home businesses. A good desk and office chair are also important. Sometimes, however, you need a bit more.

Some jobs will require that you have a wired connection to your internet. This is because wifi is not all that secure, and it is to protect the data you send and receive. Wired connections are often faster as well. A wired (not cordless) phone may be required as well.

Jobs may also require that you have a dual monitor setup. This can be great for productivity. A laptop plus a second monitor may or may not be acceptable.

Jobs may require printers, fax machines, foot pedals, special software, a dedicated phone line and so forth. Know what equipment you will need and make sure you have things set up before you start working.

Dropbox is a popular solution if you need to share files with others, and don’t need something as comprehensive as Slack. It’s great for freelancers or if you use multiple computers.

Being prepared won’t keep all problems away when you get started working at home. My own start was kind of rough, back when I did medical transcription. First my computer broke down and had to be replaced, and the new one was too new for them, as Windows XP was brand new, not compatible with their systems, so I had to wait for my employer to upgrade.

Then, on what should have been my first day of work, my dedicated phone line was cut off. It was in my name, while the main phone line was in my husband’s name. The phone company suddenly labeled it as fraudulent due to a mistake on the part of the person who set it up for me. I told that story years ago, and I can laugh at it now. The quick version is that the person entered someone else’s information on my account. It was miserable at the time, but my boss was quite understanding of the most unique reason she had ever heard for someone to fail to work on a given day.

When Will You Exercise?

Working at home can be very sedentary. Make time to exercise at least a little bit each day.

You don’t have to go to the gym, of course. You can take a walk around the block, do an exercise video or exercise on your own.

A sit stand desk may also be a good plan, so long as you understand what the limitations on the benefits are. Standing all day is not that different from sitting all day. I use mine to change position periodically, so that I spend some time sitting and some standing. I hope this is better for me than doing either one all day long.

Working at home is not for everyone. One of my older sisters tried it, and it did not suit her at all. She is much happier in a traditional office. If it’s what you believe you want, give it a solid try and find out. If working at home doesn’t work for you for any reason, there may come a time when you look for something outside the home. That’s fine. A reasonable level of happiness with your job and where you work is important so that you can stick with the work a long time.

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.

February 16th, 2017

Are You Ready For The Facebook Jobs Page?

Facebook has opened up its Jobs page to the public. They’ve been testing it for a while, but now it is visible to users and shows jobs in the United States and Canada. Businesses can post jobs directly on Facebook, and people can apply to the jobs directly from Facebook.

All this makes it all the more important that you have your social media accounts ready for your job hunt, especially your Facebook account. If you’re applying via Facebook, you must expect that the employer is going to notice your presence there. Make sure that the information available to potential employers is the information you want available to them, whether it comes to them through the application process or by visiting your profile.

Jobs can appear in your news feed, the new bookmark for jobs or within posts on the business’ page. When you apply, some of your information will populate based on your Facebook profile. You can edit it if necessary.

This is, at least in part, a way for Facebook to compete with LinkedIn. It’s easy to change the area you’re searching in if you don’t see what you’re looking for in the default area, which is based on where you live. It requires you to list a location and range (2-100 miles), which isn’t ideal if you’re looking for work at home and don’t care about location, but you can make it work.

The Industry categories you can search in are rather broad – you’re best off searching the jobs with a keyword if you know what kind of job you’re looking for. “Local Business” doesn’t say much about the kind of work you will find, after all.

On the plus side, you can find even low skill level work on Facebook; it isn’t all jobs that require a degree or years of experience. It’s easy for local restaurants to post jobs, for example. Any business that has a Page on Facebook can easily add a job listing to their page and it will show up with the other jobs. LinkedIn has not been as popular for low skill jobs as it has been for medium to high skill level jobs. This gives Facebook an opening.

All this doesn’t mean you should give up on using any other job boards – LinkedIn, Indeed, the Home With The Kids Job Board – it’s one more source for job hunting, that’s all. When you need work, the more resources you have, the better your chances are of finding it.

I can see this being good for home based businesses as well. Post a job on your business’s Facebook Page, and one of your fans might be a good fit.

As always, do your research before applying for any jobs. I have no doubt that some scams will post jobs, just as legitimate companies do. Make sure you aren’t giving away too much information when you don’t know whether or not the company or job are real.

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.

February 6th, 2017

Work At Home, Remote, Telecommute? Do They Mean The Same Thing?

When you want a job that you can do at home, there are several keywords you can consider to help you in your search. They can all be used to mean a job you do at home, but sometimes they mean something else. Let’s take a look at some of these terms. Most often they mean that you will be working at home, but other times may imply that you will be working elsewhere at least some of the time.

Work At Home

The classic search term for work at home jobs, yet one of the most dangerous. You can pretty much assume that a “work at home” job is to be done primarily at home, but some jobs will involve a bit of travel, probably local.

The danger with searching for “work at home” is that too many scams use it as a keyword. Lots of legitimate jobs use it as well, so don’t rule it out entirely. Be careful.

You will probably also say that you work at home if you run your own business from your home. Then again, you might be better off talking more about what your business has to offer, and less about where you work.

Telecommute

Telecommuting has been around for a long time. Telecommuting jobs aren’t always done entirely at home – they may require you to work in the office some days as well. This term isn’t as popular as it once was, but you will still see it around.

If you have a current employer and want to work at home, telecommuting is probably what you would suggest. You and your employer may both benefit from a telecommuting arrangement if your job is suitable.

Work From Home

“Work at home” and “work from home” are very similar, and are often identical. Sometimes the term “work from home” means you may not be at home as much. You might do some work at your home, then go to another site to do other parts of your job.

Home Based

Much like a work from home job, a home based job may mean that you use your home as a base from which you work, but you may work other places at certain times. Other times, it is simply a job you do from home.

Virtual

A virtual job is generally done online, or at least at home. There’s an implication that the job is done over the internet, but virtual jobs can involve phone work as well.

You may be familiar with the term “virtual assistant,” but that’s far from the only job that is call “virtual.” Some companies are entirely virtual, which is wonderful when you want to work for them from home.

Not all jobs that say they’re virtual are done from home. There are virtual assistant companies where employees work in the company’s office and are virtual assistants for various clients. They aren’t at home at all. That’s an exception, but it happens.

Remote

Now here’s one of the tricky terms. Most of the time when I see a job listed as being remote, it’s a job you do at home. Other times it means you work at client sites, in another country, or in an office that isn’t the main office of the company. I’ve seen it used all those ways.

Read the job description carefully to ensure you know which way the potential employer means it. If it still isn’t clear, make your expectations known in your cover letter and clarify things during your interview if you get one.

Online

An online job may be much like a virtual job, but not always. As a job searching keyword, it may find you some jobs, but it will often refer only to that the job is listed on an online job board.

Freelance/Contract

A freelance or contract job means that you are self employed and working for someone else under a contract. While these jobs are often done at home, sometimes the contract will require that you work on site. A freelancer is responsible for paying his or her income taxes quarterly, as there’s no withholding by the employer.

Which Terms To Use When Looking For A Work At Home Job?

You can use just about any of these terms if you want to find a job you can do at home. Any of them will show up on job boards. With all job searches, even if you aren’t trying to work at home, be aware of the possibility of a scam. Pay close attention to any travel requirements as well. If you don’t want to travel at all, it’s a quick way to rule out many jobs.

Don’t use them as your only search term. What kind of a job are you qualified for? What do you want to do? Consider possible job titles and the skills you have to offer, and use them in combination with your preferred terms.

Don’t use “freelance” unless you are looking for that kind of work. There’s nothing wrong with freelance work, and a lot right with it, but it’s not what everyone wants to do.

It’s not uncommon for work at home jobs to consider you an independent contractor rather than an employee. Make sure you know which they consider you to be. You should read up on the legal differences between being an independent contractor and an employee. Be aware of the tax implications if you want to do freelance or contract work. It can really mess up your finances to be hit by a big tax bill when tax time comes around if you haven’t been paying quarterly.

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.

January 24th, 2017

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

Most of the time when you look at a work at home job opportunity, you only have to worry about whether the job is legitimate. If the company is real, and they pay you, most of the time you’re in good shape. But there are a few cases where you may need to consider whether the work you’re doing is legal or ethical.

College Essay Writing Services

College essay writing services are one of those special cases where you should really think about what you’re doing. Writing for pay as such is legal, but in some states writing college essays for pay for someone is illegal. Consider California Education Code Section 66400:

“66400. No person shall prepare, offer to prepare, cause to be prepared, sell, or otherwise distribute any term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material for another person, for a fee or other compensation, with the knowledge, or under circumstances in which he should reasonably have known, that such term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material is to be submitted by any other person for academic credit at any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher learning in this state.”

Or Florida Statutes Section 877.17:

“It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to sell, offer to sell, or advertise for sale any term paper, thesis, dissertation, essay, or report or any written, recorded, pictorial, artistic, or other assignment which the seller or advertiser knew or reasonably should have known was intended for submission by a student, unaltered to any substantial degree, in fulfillment of the requirements for a degree, diploma, certificate, or course of study at a university, college, academy, school, or other educational institution in the state.”

It’s a second degree misdemeanor in Florida.

Essay writing services try to get around these by saying that the papers are for use as guidelines, or for use in citations. You should decide how much you’re willing to trust these disclaimers before accepting such work.

Illegal or not, you should also consider the ethics of the matter. Are you comfortable with what your work would be used for? How would you feel about someone who had used essay writing services to make it through college, rather than graduating entirely on their own merits? Then there’s the risk to the student if the college catches them using a service. No college allows students to buy papers – all work must be your own.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing opportunities can be legal or illegal, depending on how they’re done. There are plenty of legitimate companies which focus on making sales rather than recruiting. But there are too many companies which are pyramid schemes, and are illegal.

The difference is in the focus. Is the company more interested in how many people you recruit or how much you sell? Some recruiting is necessary in any multi level marketing program, but it shouldn’t be the main thing. Too much focus on recruiting is one of the signs of a pyramid scheme.

Also look at the claims made about the products you’re selling. Companies as well as individual recruiters can make inappropriate claims about the products they sell, and if you make those claims, you may be liable for it.

You especially see this in any products related to health. Any claim about curing, treating, mitigating or preventing actual diseases has to be proven. Don’t make health claims that aren’t backed up by studies. There’s a fine line between stating your own experience with a product and making a health claim that might get you in trouble. If you’re looking at joining a company that makes any such claims about their products, find out how they back it up. Not only are such claims illegal, they’re as unethical as can be when they’re wrong.

Beware of making income claims too. Overstated income claims are all too common, and can get people and companies into trouble. There’s a huge difference between what top earners make in an opportunity and what the average person makes. The FTC expects income claims to be what someone can actually expect to make. Appropriate disclosures must be made before a new distributor can join.

What About Other Illegal Work At Home Jobs?

Most other illegal work at home jobs I already list in the scams section. Often enough, the illegal part hits victims fast enough that they won’t make money – they’ll be out money.

Take the reshipping scam, for example. You receive goods at your home and send them off to someone else. It turns out that the goods were paid for with a stolen credit card or counterfeit check, and you have now helped them in that crime and can be in legal trouble yourself. They might even pay you with a counterfeit check or money order. It’s just a nasty business all around.

Then there are the classic envelope stuffing or email processing scams. They’re pretty much the same thing – when you respond to the ad, you get instructions on how to place the same ad and have people pay you for the instructions. You might make some money, but the method you’re using is illegal. There are several variations on this theme, but they all amount to the same thing.  Just don’t.

I haven’t names every illegal job you could do at home. If you have your doubts about a work at home job or home business opportunity, investigate it and make sure it’s neither a scam nor illegal, and that you’re comfortable ethically with what you’re doing.

Of course, none of what I’m saying here is legal advice. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, take a careful look at what concerns you and decide if advice from an attorney is necessary. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep aware of the law.

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.