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Working from home was once only a possibility for a select few jobs. But because modern technology has really expanded the possibilities to work remotely, more and more people are able to work from home, where there is more flexibility and fewer distractions. Before setting up a home office, though, it is important to consider the pros and cons of flexible work from home opportunities.
Work from home opportunities
First of all, let’s talk about what jobs you might do at home. Typically if your job is office based work it is likely you could do it remotely, even if only on an occasion. Employers have become much more open to remote work arrangements – sometimes they even prefer it, as it means they don’t need to rent as much office space for employees. If you feel that your job is one that could be done from home (either full-time or part-time), ask management if work from home opportunities are available to you.
Being a business owner can be another way to work from home. While it isn’t easy to launch a small business, the possibilities are endless: take your professional expertise and become a consultant, use your crafting skills to open your own Etsy shop, or transform your brilliant idea into a tech start-up.
Here is a sample of some other common work from home opportunities:
Graphic designer / artist
Different kinds of artists have long worked from home studios, but this has grown to include graphic and web designers. A client’s needs can usually be communicated via email or phone, allowing the designer to do the work using specialized software on their home computer. The digital graphic or artwork created can then be emailed to the client for approval.
Writer / editor
There are a number of jobs in the areas of writing and editing that can be performed from a home office. Everyone from technical writers and copywriters to novelists and journalists can work from home, as it is easy to email documents back and forth as needed.
This may seem surprising, because we tend to think of a personal assistant as someone who is always side-by-side with the leadership team. But in actuality, many people need an assistant to help with tasks that can be done remotely, such as arranging appointments, booking travel, and so on.
Pros of working from home
There are both pros and cons of working from home. Among the advantages (i.e. the pros) are:
Easier to maintain work-life balance
The rigors of work, which can often include long commutes and being away from family during important moments, can compromise your contentment with your personal life. Working at home can make it easier to maintain that work-life balance, since you can get more time to be around your spouse and children or to do activities that you care about.
Flexibility in schedule
The schedule of a remote worker can vary, and some at-home jobs still require rigid hours for remote employees. However, many remote workers find that they have more flexibility in their hours, allowing them to work when it’s convenient for them.
This can be great if you prefer odd hours, or if you want to do chunks of work at different times of day (or night) to make room for other items of importance (e.g. picking the kids up from school, going to the gym in the afternoon, etc.).
How much do you spend on gas or taking public transit to work? How much do you spend grabbing lunch at that annoyingly overpriced café near your workplace? These are a few of the expenses remote employees can save by working at home.
Cons of working from home
Lack of face-to-face meetings
While a lot of people may initially love the idea of avoiding face-to-face meetings, the truth is that in-person meetings are sometimes more effective for having in-depth discussions, especially among multiple people. You can often pick up more nuance, develop more meaningful connections, and have clearer conversations in person.
Harder to engage in collaboration
In an office setting, it’s typically much easier to just walk over to a co-worker’s desk to chat about a project, or have a meeting on-site. When you work remotely, time for collaborative conversations has to be scheduled in advance.
Challenges to productivity if you are not disciplined
Some people are actually much more productive when they don’t have a manager looking over their shoulder. But working remotely does require you to have a certain amount of self-discipline, to ensure that you are using your time well and accomplishing your goals. If you aren’t good at making yourself focus on your work in a home environment, working remotely could be tough for you.
Technology that facilitates working from home
While it doesn’t change the fact that there are both pros and cons of working from home, technology has made it much easier to do so. A few of the digital-age technologies that have made working remotely a reality include:
The internet is the foundation for almost every other digital application that has been critical for remote workers, and high-speed internet in particular is important because it allows for moving large files and using phone/video tech without interruption.
This decades-old technology is still the bedrock of remote communication. Email doesn’t require coordination – you send a message, and the other person responds once they are able. You can share a nearly unlimited amount of information in an email’s text, and also attach spreadsheets, documents, images, and other types of files.
Real-time chatting is great for working relationships that demand more consistent communication (you can simply keep a chat window open all day if you need to periodically check in with a client or collaborator). It is also good for when you need to have a real-time conversation but don’t want to use the phone because you are multi-tasking.
Video conferencing software
The next best thing to a face-to-face meeting, increasingly sophisticated video conferencing has made it possible for multiple people to participate in a meeting from different locations.
Smart phones are a huge benefit to remote workers because they allow you to do all of the above while on the go.
Where do I find work at home opportunities?
If you do an internet search for “freelance jobs” or “work at home opportunities,” you will discover a number of job boards and websites that help connect home workers and employers.
If you are self-employed, reach out to your personal network on social media to let them know that you are seeking clients. And, as mentioned above, if you already have a job with a fixed workplace, talk to your supervisor and explore the possibility that you might be able to work remotely from a home office.