Last Updated December 11th, 2017

10 Perks of Working at Home

Perks of working at home

Being home with your kids isn’t the only good thing about working at home. It’s certainly a benefit when you’re a parent… provided you can actually work with the kids around, which is not always easy or smart. But there are a lot of other perks of working at home that you may not have considered as much.

1. No Commute

Losing the drive to work is wonderful. There are some work at home jobs out there where you may have to drive to the office sometimes or to see a client, but for the most part, you don’t have to drive anywhere to get to work. Potentially, that’s a huge time savings.

You’ll also use less gas. This is a personal favorite, especially whenever gas prices start climbing. So long as you don’t take the excuses to drive all around town, working at home uses a lot less gas for most people… unless you have to meet with clients a lot away from your home.

2. More Time

Cutting that commute means you have more time. The average U.S. travel time to work is 24.5 minutes. I assume the drive home is similar. That’s close to an hour a day of driving. Working at home gives you that time back, to use as you wish.

For what depends on you. You might work more, or you might have more family time. Some use it to volunteer at their children’s schools or elsewhere. It could be more time for a hobby or to improve your skills by taking a class.

3. Your Day Can Be More Productive

Most people are more productive when they work at home, distractions or no. Meetings can be held with online tools such as Slack, which also makes it easy to share documents.

If you need to chat with a coworker about something, you can. The online tools for this have really improved in recent years. Companies that have a lot of remote employees are pretty good at handling communication between employees now, which is a huge boost for productivity.

4. Your Home Office, Your Style

This is one of my favorite perks of working at home. You can set up your home office to suit you. You want a standing desk, it’s up to you to make that happen. Office plants and other decor are up to you. Your home office can be a guest room, as mine is.

Odds are that you won’t want to spend a lot on your home office, at least not at first. But you will have the freedom to pick out the desk and chair that fit your needs and budget, and upgrade when the time comes.

Not everything will be up to you in some work at home jobs, of course. You can’t work at the coffee shop if you’re required to have a wired internet connection or a silent work area. You probably won’t even be able to work outside your regular workspace. But you will be able to set that space up to suit you, rather than by a set of corporate rules.

Some companies will give you a stipend to set up your home office. This may be mostly for the technology you need to do your job right – a good computer and monitor, for example. Some will provide enough that you can also get a good desk and chair. Others will expect you to provide your own equipment.

You have full control of the thermostat when you work at home. Get that programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat to make it easy to keep your home at the right temperature while you work. My husband’s biggest complaint about his job is that he is exactly under the blower at work. Even on the hottest days of the summer, he brings a jacket to work because it gets so cold at his desk. I don’t have to worry about that at home because I have full control over the temperature of the house.

You aren’t even restricted to working in your home office with many work at home jobs. If you want to head outside because it’s a beautiful day, you might just be able to do that. There are lots of places you can work at home if you aren’t required to have a quiet or wired setup.

Home Office

5. A More Flexible Work Day

Most work at home jobs give you more flexibility to get things done. That makes it easier to run quick errands or get the kids from school if you need to. That’s especially handy if one of the kids gets sick at school. With a regular outside the home job, you’d be done for the day. With a work at home job, you can get the kid and then decide if you can keep working.

Some require a schedule and strict adherence, but even then you can usually pick a schedule that suits you. If you work best in the early morning, you set up your schedule so that you start in the early morning. If you’re a night owl, many jobs will let you do much of your work then. So long as you can sign in for online meetings, you’re probably fine.

Better yet, you can have a lot more fun on your breaks during the workday. You don’t have to worry about disturbing your coworkers if you want to crank up the music during a break. You might embarrass any kids who are at home if you sing along, but you won’t bother your coworkers.

You’ll even have more time to work out if you want. You can get to the gym in the middle of the day when it’s relatively quiet, rather than fighting the crowds. Some people find that getting a workout in also helps them come up with ideas. Taking that break can greatly improve your productivity.

6. No Distracting Coworkers

You won’t have any coworkers stopping by your desk to chat when you work at home. You can set your status in your work chat group to “do not disturb” when you really need to focus. It’s much easier to control when you socialize with coworkers.

On the other hand, there are other distractions, just waiting for you to give in. And they’re always there. If you don’t learn how to ignore the television and the housework you may have difficulty being sufficiently productive at home.

You will need to teach friends and family that they aren’t allowed to distract you. A spouse or child swinging by your home office to chat can be even more disruptive than a coworker if they don’t take the hint to let you work.

Don’t even get me started on my cats. Given a chance, they’re wonderful distractions. But they also make me feel good, so I’m pretty sure that balances out.

7. No Sharing Germs With Coworkers – One Of The Best Perks Of Working At Home

This is one of my favorite perks of working at home during cold and flu season. I can almost guarantee that I’m not the one bringing the latest virus home. I might get sick due to my husband or kids bringing something home, but that’s it.

You can even decide to work when you’re only mildly ill without having to take your coworkers into consideration. It’s so nice when you can save your sick days for the days you really need them without feeling as though you’re spreading illness to your coworkers.

The ability to work at your own speed when you’re not feeling 100% well is a huge help. It’s easier to take an extra break in many remote jobs. If your schedule isn’t flexible you may still be stuck, but for many jobs, you can take it a little easy when you’re sick.

Just try not to think about how much worse that sick kid at home with you can be. They’re usually far worse than a contagious coworker. On the other hand, you’d have to deal with that sick kid even if you worked outside the home. You might even have to take a day off work to deal with them, while a work at home mom or dad might still be able to work.

8. Eating Healthy Is Easier

This one is all up to you, but it can be much easier to eat healthy when you work at home. There’s less excuse to grab lunch out, and what’s in the fridge is under your control.

One of the best ways to take advantage of this perk of working at home is to prepare things in advance. Don’t have a lot of chips, soda or candy in the house – it’s too easy to snack on them if they’re in the house. Instead, prepare healthier snacks for yourself. Chop up any vegetables you like for a super fast and easy snack. I’ve also developed a taste for frozen yogurt bark, which is very easy to make.

Have healthy lunch fixings available too. I pack up leftovers from dinner and put them in the fridge or freezer for easy lunches. They’re a good alternative to sandwiches. If you freeze them you don’t get so bored from always having leftovers from the night before as your lunch.

Keep a good supply of coffee around if that’s your habit so that you don’t get the urge to run out to a local coffee shop. Not only will that mess with your productivity, it adds up fast.

9. Wear What You Want

Many people love the ability to dress as they please when they work at home. It’s one of the most popular perks of working at home. Some prefer to dress just as they would if they were going to the office. They say it gets them into the right frame of mind to work. Others do just fine dressing casually or yes, working in their pajamas. You choose the clothing that makes being productive easier for you, rather than having to abide by the company dress code.

Of course, if you’re meeting someone face to face or by webcam, dress appropriately. What this means depends on your job, but rarely includes pajamas.

10. Environmentally Friendly.

Working at home can be very environmentally friendly. Sure, you’ll use more electricity around your house, but you also use less gas, which tilts the environmental considerations in your favor when you work at home.

Your home office can be as efficient as you care to make it. You can use LED lights. You can have plants in your office if you want. If you have space in your budget, you can even consider solar panels for your home.

Having people work at home also means companies can use smaller buildings. Odds are that you aren’t buying a bigger home just so that you can work from there. An employer, on the other hand, has to provide space to all employees who come to the office.

Some will debate the environmental impact of working at home – you still need all the equipment, and heating or cooling individual homes is less efficient than heating an office building. Overall, most say the environmental impact of working at home is less than that of commuting to an office.

Are There More Perks Of Working At Home?

What are your favorite perks of working at home? Have I missed anything great?

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.

Last Updated December 4th, 2017

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Beware The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

I’m seeing the secret sister gift exchange all over Facebook right now. I have a few friends who are participating, and it just makes me wince. Simply put, the secret sister gift exchange is a pyramid scheme, and illegal.

A lot of people don’t understand that. $10 seems like such a small risk, and it is. But the odds of receiving the promised 6 or 36 gifts is poor, especially since it depends not only on how well you recruit people into it, but how well your recruits bring people into the deal as well.

How Is The Secret Sister Gift Exchange Supposed To Work?

The basic premise is so simple. You send your gift to the person whose name appears at the top of the list you receive. When you send the list to your recruits, you remove the person you sent a gift to, and put the second person’s name at the top. Your name becomes the second name on the list.

There is often a push to do this quickly, so that everyone gets their gifts. Your six people send to the top of the list, and their people, now totalling 36 people, send gifts to you. It sounds wonderful.

Legally, however, this falls under the same laws as chain letters and lotteries. It’s not something you want to mess with. Not many people will get in legal trouble for doing the secret sister gift exchange, but why try your luck? It’s a federal crime, according to the Post Office. It also may be a crime by the laws in your state.

Do The Math

If you do the math on the secret sister gift exchange, you can quickly see why it will quickly run out, even if everyone finds enough people and everyone sends their gifts. Both of those are pretty iffy themselves.

Six people each finding six people means they need 36 people. Those 36 people need a total of 216 people, who need 1296 people. Keep this going for five more levels, and you need 10,077,696 people. That’s a difficult number, but not completely impossible. Highly unlikely, of course.

It only takes 13 levels to get beyond the entire population of the planet. Even assuming some people participate more than once, it’s not going to happen.

This means it won’t take long at all for people to have trouble finding someone to send gifts. Many people who try to join in won’t get anything in return. Most will simply fail to get a full six people sending gifts, and their people in return will have trouble finding enough people.

You might get a few gifts, but usually that’s it. Between the number of people needed for everyone to get their gifts and the difficulty in recruiting people, it’s just not going to go that well.

There are also gift exchanges where the focus is on wine. It has the same problem as this one. Just don’t join in. The wine version also presents challenges in shipping it legally.

Talking Friends Out Of The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It can be hard to call this out as a scam. I’ve seen people call friends names for trying to explain why the secret sister gift exchange doesn’t work or is illegal.

I would imagine that most people have trouble admitting the problems with the gift exchange because they’re already invested in it. They’ve promised to send a gift to someone else, or have even sent it already.

It’s worth a try, even if the friend who posts the gift exchange won’t listen. Someone else might.

Be polite when you try to discourage friends from this. No one will respond well if they feel foolish. You should also remember that the people participating don’t mean to scam or cheat anyone. They’re trying to do something fun. No one in this means any harm by it.

That doesn’t change the legal issues. Or the fact that eventually there are people who won’t get anything in return.

Then there’s the risk in putting your personal information out there for random people. You may know all the people you recruit into the gift exchange, but it’s the people they recruit who will be sending you gifts, and they’ll get your name and address too. Are you comfortable with that?

Alternatives To The Secret Sister Gift Exchange

It may be better to suggest setting up a basic secret Santa gift exchange, where everyone in a group draws a name and buys for one other person. No grand promises of dozens of gifts. Just a simple gift exchange among friends. It’s much simpler and legal when you avoid the chain letter aspects of the secret sister gift exchange. Best of all, you know that everyone gets a gift.

If you want something to feel good about, donate to a local cause. There are lots of wonderful causes out there, and even a $10 donation will be welcome. You won’t get a gift back, but you will have done something good.

As illegal actions go, this is a minor one, and I doubt many people ever get prosecuted for it. But why take the chance when a simpler gift exchange works just fine?

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.

Last Updated 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.

Last Updated 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.

Last Updated 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.

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