By Jonna Gallo Weppler
Tricia Taylor-Lyphout, a 43-year-old single mom of three (ages 14, 12 and 10) in Toledo, Ohio, can't say enough about how family life has changed for the better since she started working from home as a project manager for a health care firm. "I use all my professional skills and earn a nice living," she says. "But I can run my kids to the dentist after school when I need to, or mow the lawn at lunchtime. It's been fantastic for all of us."
Well-known home-based options like data entry, call center support and phone research are just the tip of the iceberg, according to Sara Sutton Fell, founder of job posting site FlexJobs.com. Thanks to studies proving the benefits of a remote workforce (statistically higher productivity, for one), many more employers are getting on board with telecommuting. Professional work-at-home jobs are available for almost every industry and career level -- both part- and full-time.
Obviously, positions that utilize high-speed Internet connectivity, software programs, e-mail or phone interaction are best suited to the arrangement, she says. Analyzing the postings at FlexJobs.com reveals these fields as hot telecommuting prospects:
Medical and Health: Registered nurse, medical billing/coding, case manager
Marketing: PR specialist, social media coordinator, marketing copy editor
Customer Service: Account executive, virtual admin
Education: Online tutor, adjunct teacher, school help desk specialist
Writing and Editing: Web content writer, proofreader
While offering a certain degree of freedom, working at home isn't stress-free. As for ditching formal child care, it's a possibility, at best, if your children are in school all day. Keep in mind, though, that you'll need to cover holidays, winter and summer vacations and the inevitable sick days. You will likely need to maintain at least a somewhat regular schedule, which some find a lot more challenging than anticipated. Loneliness may also crop up in the absence of office water-cooler chitchat or deskside drop-bys. And you may have to fight the perception, among family members especially, that since you're home (maybe even wearing yoga pants), you're not busy or really working. Even so, for growing numbers of telecommuters, the pluses far outweigh any potential minuses when it comes to making life, well, work.