INSIDE: In this guide to working from home, you'll discover what types of jobs you can do, how much you can earn, what skills you need, how to find remote work, and what the hiring process looks like.
In recent years, more and more of the workforce has been leaning towards remote work.
Online employment opportunities allow people to eliminate long commutes, save money and achieve better work-personal life balance. A few are looking to become a digital nomad and enjoy location independence.
Employers are making the switch as it allows them to eliminate a lot of overhead and day-to-day expenses if they can have everyone, or almost everyone, working remotely.
If this path has been calling your name, you may be wondering where to start. What’s out there for a telecommuter? Where should you look? What should you expect? This guide to working from home will give you a little insight.
What types of jobs can you do from home?
There are so many industries turning to remote opportunities. A few popular jobs:
- Customer service – As you would expect, these online jobs often involve answering customer questions or taking orders via phone or chat. Customer service positions are some of the most readily available in the remote work world.
- Accounting and tax jobs – These jobs often require some prior training or experience though entry-level bookkeeping jobs do exist.
- Freelance writer – Online content creation is in high demand. This remote job is great for those who love research and need a flexible schedule.
- Transcription – This job is simply listening to an audio or video file and typing it out into text. It does require a lot of attention to detail and the ability to follow directions to succeed on a distributed team of transcribers.
- Online Teaching/Tutoring – While some positions do require a teaching certificate, there are many online tutoring roles that do not. This is especially true for tutors helping students in other countries learn English as a second language.
- Virtual Assistant Jobs – A virtual assistant can help businesses large and small with a variety of day-to-day tasks that can be done remotely. Tasks can range from answering emails to monitoring social media profiles to booking podcast guests and beyond.
- Proofreader – All of that online content being created by freelance writers needs proofread. This role doesn’t necessarily require a degree, but does require a strong command of grammar and the English language.
- Social Media – Social media popularity and platforms are ever-expanding and becoming more important to businesses than ever. Companies are hiring remote workers to engage audiences and promptly take care of any problems that arise.
That’s just to name a few. Consider your employment background and education. What jobs could easily transition to an online-only environment?
Learn more about different types of jobs you can do from home here.
How much can you earn working from home?
No guide to working from home would be complete without including information on how you you can earn. Income potential varies widely in the remote work world. Just as IRL, a home job requiring more skill and training will often pay more than entry-level remote employee positions.
According to ZipRecruiter, salaries range from $11,000 to $198,000 per year. That’s a big swing! The vast majority of remote workers earn under $50,000, however, per their studies.
Those high-paying jobs of $100,000 or more often require specialized degrees or training. Psychiatrist, consultants and data analysts are often on those lists.
You may also find a big variance in income potential between remote employee and freelance jobs. Keep in mind employee positions often have income taxes taken out and may come with other benefits such as paid time off or insurance.
With a freelance job, your hourly rate may be higher, but you are on your own when it comes to taxes and insurance. A flexible work schedule is a priority benefit for many, but it does come at a cost in many cases.
What basic skills do you need to work from home?
You may see many a remote job listing claiming no education is needed. While that may be true, you will need to possess some basic skills. Let's get into those now as we progress through this guide to working from home.
Basic computer skills
You don’t need to be a computer whiz or hold an IT degree, but you should have some basic troubleshooting skills should trouble arise.
And trouble will arise from time to time. You should know how to restart your computer, clear your browser’s cache and cookies and how to Google problems to find an answer on your own without having to enlist help for every little issue.
You should know your way around popular software like Microsoft Office and how to send emails.
While many people long to no longer punch a time clock, it’s somewhat unrealistic to think that’s necessarily the case just because you are remote working. You may still need to log in at a certain time.
There will likely still be deadlines to be met. With the many distractions that come with the remote work life, it’s essential you know how to manage your time wisely.
One category of worker who often fails working remotely is those that require supervision. While some remote employees thrive without oversight, others need a little micro-managing to stay on task and get things done. Those people often struggle without structure.
Unlike in-person roles where you can “show” your boss or customer what is needing to be relayed, remote roles require a lot of verbalization. It’s essential you have good grammar, communication and customer service skills as a member of a remote team.
How do you find a legitimate work-from-home job?
Next, in this guide to working from home, we come to the part where we talk about how to find legitimate work from home jobs. And fortunately, there are so many places to find remote job listings:
- Problogger Job Board
- And more
If you have been looking for an online job for any period of time, you may have already discovered just how many scams are out there. There are a common red flags to look out for to help protect yourself:
Big pay for little work
This one is especially common when it comes to what is perceived as easy work such as data entry. Because of the popularity of this industry – and the overwhelming lack of jobs in this industry – it’s an easy target. While there are legit easy jobs out there, they don’t pay much.
In most cases, they don’t pay minimum wage. Because there are so many people that want them, there’s no need for companies to offer more. There’s certainly no reason they would need to pay a premium of $25 per hour or more as some scammers claim. It’s simply a matter of supply and demand.
Use your common sense. If it sounds too good to be true. It probably is.
Interviews via Hangouts or Facebook chat
No legitimate company is going to hold an interview this way, especially an interview that only entails the two of you typing back and forth. This avenue is often used by scammers to try to trick you into giving your personal or banking information before you have time to think about it. Online interviews are most often done over the phone or video conference.
If you are unsure about a company’s reputation, Glassdoor is a good place to look. Just remember to take some things with a grain of salt. Complaints such as personality or scheduling conflicts are not something that everyone will experience. You are primarily looking for big offenses like skipped payments.
What companies hire remote workers?
The great news is that there are hundreds of legitimate companies out there hiring remote workers. With the current state of the world, this list has grown even longer. You will recognize many of these work-at-home companies as well:
- Enterprise Holdings
Without droning on an on in this guide to working from home, we've only named a few! For even more, check out this list.
Even when seeking out jobs with these well-known companies, it’s important to protect yourself from scams. Make sure you are on the company’s website when applying and not a look-alike. Make sure any emails are coming from the right domain.
Did you actually apply for a job? There’s no need for companies to blind email offers. If you never applied for a position, it’s probably a scammer. Keep a spreadsheet of where you apply.
If you ever have any doubts, don’t hesitate to reach out to the company directly via email or social media.
What is the hiring process for remote workers?
The hiring process for a remote worker is very similar to what you encounter in a traditional setting.
- Apply for a job opening
- Skills and equipment test
- New contractor paperwork
- Start work
There are a few variances that we want you to be aware of as we continue in this guide to working from home:
- Interviews may take place over the phone or by video platform like Skype or Zoom
- Training may be unpaid, especially with independent contractor positions
- The process can, literally, take months from application to first shift depending on the seasonality of the position
The latter is one thing that comes as a big shock to many new job seekers. This isn’t a quick process. It’s unlikely you will find a job during the first week, maybe even first month, as a remote job seeker. Patience and persistence are key to a successful job search. Desperation can open you up to scams. Keep working towards the goal. You’ll get there.
And don’t put the cart before the horse. Another red flag to look out for is requesting sensitive or banking information long before it is needed. There is no need to provide bank information during a job application. You shouldn’t be providing that until you have an actual job offer and have vetted the positions and remote companies properly.
What should you do once you're hired?
Once you have secured a remote job opportunity, it’s important to set up boundaries for yourself and others. For the example of a customer service position, this may mean physical boundaries. The majority of those roles require a dedicated office space free from noise and distractions. Noise from children or pets is strictly prohibited.
You may also find you need boundaries for yourself. Perhaps you tend to be a workaholic and will need strict work hours to get in the habit of shutting down and stepping away from the computer to enjoy your personal life. Maybe you tend to be a free spirit and need to set boundaries to keep yourself from accepting every coffee invitation from neighbors and friends.
Final thoughts about this guide to working from home
To be successful at remote work, it’s so important to be honest with yourself and about yourself. Where are your strengths and weaknesses? What temptations or minor troubles could spell disaster? Devise a good plan for your new home job and you’ll be a thriving member of the remote workforce for years to come.