CareerBuilder | September 8, 2016
Whether you're just starting out in the professional world or you've already gained years of experience in your field, working from home could be a smart career move. From writing and web design to financial management, working from home can be ideal for professionals on myriad career paths. Learn more about the challenges and benefits of working from home and discover some of the most common work-from-home careers.
No matter which field you're pursuing, you'll find that working from home offers a few key benefits. According to Entrepreneur, one of the most common reasons that professionals choose to work from home is the chance to achieve a healthy balance between work and life. Since working from home eliminates lengthy commutes and offers greater flexibility for your schedule, this option can be ideal for parents who want to spend more time with their families as well as talented professionals who juggle a variety of hobbies and personal pursuits.
Reducing or eliminating the daily commute to and from the office is also a top reason that many people choose to work from home. After all, commuting translates to both time and money. You may be able to save money and get back dozens of hours each month when you work from home.
Commuting might not seem overly expensive, but estimating the total costs can be eye-opening. A simple 20-mile round-trip commute costs nearly $3,000 per year in fuel, vehicle upkeep, and insurance. If you pay tolls and parking fees or if your commute is much longer than 10 miles each way, your commute could cost closer to $10,000 per year. Add to that the cost of maintaining and updating your work wardrobe, and the cost of commuting can be staggering.
In addition, those who don't deal well with constant distractions or stressful situations often prefer working from home. In your own home office, you'll have much greater control over your environment, from the noise levels and lighting to your office furniture and coworkers. Depending on your employer, you may even be able to set your own schedule so you can complete difficult tasks when you're best able to focus.
If you have to negotiate a remote work arrangement with your company, it's also important to know how your employer benefits from you working from home. Many businesses can reduce costs significantly by hiring professionals who work from home, since this arrangement eliminates the need for substantial office space or technology investments. Furthermore, because working from home often improves employee morale, companies that encourage this practice frequently experience less turnover and increased productivity.
Businesses that strive to be environmentally friendly benefit from limiting employee commutes and replacing them with conference calls or video chats. Companies who encourage employees to work from home can also hire the best talent from virtually anywhere, since they don't face location-based restrictions.
While working from home offers numerous benefits, this career choice also comes with its fair share of challenges. If you're striving for a better work-life balance, keep in mind that this isn't always easy to achieve when you work and live in the same space. For instance, you might find that meeting deadlines isn't easy when your family life is right outside your office door.
Many professionals who work from home successfully prevent the work-life lines from blurring by creating designated office spaces that they use solely for work. Establishing a regular schedule also helps with managing expectations and setting boundaries.
If you're looking forward to leaving a stressful office or unpleasant coworkers behind when you work from home, remember that you'll still encounter plenty of distractions in your home office. When housework, errands, and diversions compete for your attention during work hours, it isn't always easy to stay on task at home. That's why setting a schedule and sticking to it can help with keeping distractions at bay.
Almost all work-from-home careers require you to have your own home office setup, complete with a computer and internet connectivity. If you're not tech savvy, you might find it challenging to maintain your electronics while staying productive. Be sure to know where you can get help with buggy software, a spotty internet connection, or a laptop that's badly in need of an upgrade.
Not just anyone can excel at working from home. You'll need a few key qualities and skills to advance your work-from-home career. Even if you still report to a boss, you'll need to manage time carefully in your home office. This may mean establishing a rigid daily agenda, scheduling projects down to the minute, and sticking to deadlines. Don't forget to take timed breaks to stay on track and keep motivated throughout the day or week.
You'll also need to develop organizational skills and careful attention to detail. Whether you work for yourself or for an employer, you won't always have a skilled human resources professional at your fingertips. From additional insurance to small business paperwork and tax documents, you'll have to pay attention to details in order to stay afloat.
You might think of introverts as the ideal candidates for work-from-home jobs, but possessing a hint of extroversion can propel you further than you might think. Working from home means you rarely interact in person with your superiors or coworkers, which can lead to a disconnect. Keep the lines of communication flowing with regular emails, video chats, and phone calls. If your company has a local office, make the effort to get regular face time with your boss to increase the chances that you're still a top choice for important projects, new clients, and lucrative promotions.
The ideal home office might vary depending on your taste in interior decor, but all work-from-home professionals should keep a few basics in mind. First and foremost, you'll need a fast internet connection. This will enable you to connect with colleagues, integrate online apps into your workflow, and participate in calls or chats without missing a beat.
Sign up for a reliable virtual private network (VPN) so you can keep your employer's data secure. Since you'll undoubtedly need to initiate or join conference calls, it's also worth securing a conference number or sign up for an online meeting service.
While many employers will reimburse you for these essentials, keep in mind that not all will. In addition to your broadband connection, you'll need to budget for between $50 and $100 per month to stay connected.
Working from home is a trend that's become much more common in recent years, and it shows no signs of stopping soon. By 2020, researchers estimate that more than half of professionals will work from home.
That means in less than five years, there's a 50 percent chance you'll have a job that encourages you to work from home. In many cases, employers find that working from home enables employees to increase productivity while being more flexible. However, while mobile technology makes working remotely infinitely easier, some employers still encourage employees to pursue occasional face-to-face interactions and in-person collaborations.
Many careers easily translate to a remote environment. Take a closer look at some of the most common positions.
Whether you work for an established agency or you launch your own company, taking a job as a virtual assistant offers impressive flexibility. Virtual assistants' specialties vary widely, so you may be able to apply preexisting skills in financial management, recipe development, or travel planning to a position in this field. With a median wage of about $16 per hour, a career as a virtual assistantcan open many doors.
If you're great with technology and have strong communication skills, a job as a tech support specialist could be an ideal fit. Most support specialists work over the phone or through online chat services, making this a great job for remote workers. As long as you have a fast, reliable internet connection, you could earn a median wage of nearly $50,000 per year in a field that's growing quickly.
The nature of their job enables web designers to work remotely, and one in seven web designers are already self-employed. This field is also poised for significant growth over the next decade, since e-commerce continues to increase and responsive websites become critical for businesses of all kinds. Web designers earn a median salary of $65,000 per year, making this a lucrative work-from-home job.
As work-from-home careers continue to increase in popularity, there's no time like the present to pursue a job that enables you to work remotely. With the right position, skills, and setup, you can build a successful career working from home on your own schedule.