Working from home definitely has lots of perks—you can make your own schedule, avoid traffic-ridden commutes and, yeah, wear pajamas if you like. According to a recent survey by FlexJobs.com, 87% of parents feel that telecommuting would help reduce their stress, and for 84% percent of parents surveyed, family was the number one reason they sought a more flexible job arrangement. We talked to some experts to find out the real deal.
1. It's not just for part-time work.
Many people assume that working from home is code for part-time, but that's just not true, says Cathy Sharick, executive editor of PowertoFly. "Remote jobs can be full-time jobs," she says. There are plenty of opportunities out there to match your schedule and needs. "It might even be possible to turn a current job into a work-from-home job," adds Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs.com.
2. Reliable technology is key.
No matter what you do, you're going to be spending a lot of time online doing it. So a stable Internet connection that's fast enough to support video chat is crucial. And now's the time to learn more about your computer works. "It was difficult to set up all my tech systems when I first started," recalls Sharick. "It's hard to be without a giant IT department." Make life easy on yourself and master some basics (like how to test and reset your internet connection) so you don't have to constantly shell out for tech support.
3. Opportunities exist in many different fields, so take your pick.
Don't assume that your career path lacks telecommuting options. Some of the most popular job fields, according to FlexJobs.com, include sales, customer service, marketing, research, and web and software development. Here's a list of some popular work-from-home job options.
4. No, you don't have to learn how to code (but it's not a bad idea!).
Some people assume that all remote jobs are tech-related. While that's not the case, Sharick emphasizes the importance of learning to code. For many jobs, "it's a basic part of work now," she says. "Whether you're young or older, it's an important skill." You'll be able to say on your résumé that you can do things like program websites and build software as well as other incredibly valuable skills. Sharick recommends Code.org for a free introduction.
5. You'll want to have a good support network.
Working from home can be a little isolating, says Sharick. "Try to find a network in your community or online," she says. Set aside more time to see friends, even if it's for a quick coffee break. Be sure to make the most out of digital networking tools to stay in touch with your coworkers from afar—Skype and Google Hangouts are your friends!
6. Set up a workspace that's right for you.
"I love having a place where you can shut the door," says Sharick. It doesn't even have to be a designated office, just a room in your house where your family knows that if the door is closed, you're hard at work. "Having a comfortable place where you can settle in is important," she says. Set boundaries with your kids so they know when they can and can't come in for a visit.
7. Time management might be tough. You can deal with that.
"Without anyone looking over your shoulder, it can be tempting to go easy on yourself," says Reynolds. Assess possible distractions (TV, Facebook, pets, husband, what have you) and make a plan to limit or work around them. Reynolds uses a to-do list to keep herself on task.
8. Know how to spot a scam.
According to Reynolds, there are nearly 70 scams for each legitimate at-home job. When reading listings online, look for warning signs that indicate a position might not be what it seems, like vague job descriptions, no company name and interviews on a messaging service rather than in person or over the phone. Listen to your gut—if something feels too good to be true, it probably is.
9. If you haven't been in the workforce in a while (or are starting on something new), brush up on some important skills.
Time to put on your learning cap! You don't have to get a degree, but building your knowledge and skill set will make you and your résumé more competitive. Sharick recommends checking out free videos from Khan Academy or trying EdX, which provides free online courses from top universities around the country.
10. It's absolutely worth it.
"It's definitely a transition, but it's worth it," says Sharick. She has worked remotely now for just over 2 years, and hasn't looked back. Reynolds loves the freedom that comes with working from home, from setting her own schedule to not having to commute. "The biggest perk has been getting to spend more quality time with my son," she adds.