Working from home is something that’s becoming more and more popular, and with good reason. Being able to work from home gives you more options than traditional employment -- including viable income-earning options for people who wouldn’t be able to work otherwise.
Some work-at-home arrangements are very much like traditional office jobs, except they take place at home. There are weekly conference calls, close oversight by a boss, performance reviews, and everything else that goes along with typical jobs. The other end of the spectrum is the completely self-directed entrepreneur who sets her own hours, picks her own clients, and runs the show with zero oversight from anyone else.
And, of course, there’s a whole spectrum of jobs and online work in between.
No matter what you do, whether it’s customer service for a multinational corporation or direct sales or teaching an online guitar school, there are countless legitimate work-at-home opportunities.
There are also countless things to know about working from home. These are just a few things no one’s telling you about legitimate work-at-home jobs:
1. Working from Home Is Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
While I love working from home and am one of the most vocal advocates for it on the internet, I’ll also be completely straight with you and tell you that there are days when it is hard. Sometimes it’s way harder than any regular job.
The primary reason for this is the level and type of distractions you’ll be up against. When you’re at work, you’ve got work distractions -- chatty coworkers, weird smells from the kitchen, interminable pointless meetings. But when you’re at home, you’ve got even more distractions. In addition to emails, phone calls, and messages (not to mention clear access to social media) competing for your attention, but you’ve got dishes, laundry, and your dog all vying for your attention day in and day out, too.
Working from home requires massive amounts of self discipline. The first few weeks and months are the hardest, for sure, while you get used to this new way of doing things. Eventually you’ll work out a schedule and a routine that works for you -- or you won’t, and you’ll continue to struggle the whole time.
And then there’s the fact that work is still work, no matter where you’re doing it. The change of scene might make it more enjoyable, but it won’t necessarily make it easy. It’ll still be work.
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2. The Good Aspects Are Completely Awesome
Working at home is especially great if you really like being at home -- and this is important to know, because if you don’t like being at home, you’ll either need to come up with alternative arrangements (like renting a coworking space) or rethink this whole plan of yours to begin with.
All of that said, one of the biggest perks of working from home no matter what you do is the flexibility. A few jobs will require you to be “on the clock” a specified number of hours, but nothing’s stopping you from kicking your shoes off, brewing yourself a nice cup of tea, and enjoying the view onto your street while you do it.
If your job comes with real schedule flexibility built in, you can really live into the major benefit of working from home: being able to do what you want, when you want. This obviously comes with limitations -- do you have to actually do the work after all -- but if that means you work from 6-10am and again from 2-5pm so you can be a chaperone for your kid’s class field trip, nothing’s stopping you.
3. It’s Terrifying When You First Decide to Make the Jump
Working from home, even though it’s not unheard of these days, is still a new horizon for most people. And things that are new and different can be nerve-wracking, if not downright scary. Plus there’s almost always a ramp-up time for any work-at-home job, which can be hard to weather emotionally if you aren’t prepared for it.
Finding an at-home job can be tough if you’ve never held one before, and it comes with many of the challenges of any job search. On the flip side, working for yourself can be equally intimidating, and there’s a steep learning curve in the beginning. Either way, getting started is no cake walk and all the “overnight success stories” out there aren’t helping anybody.
4. It Can Get Lonely
When you’re at home all day, there are no coworkers or customers buzzing in and out to chat with. It’s just you, your computer, and maybe a pet or a kid. It’s important to make an effort to stay connected to the “real world” and to make friends with people in similar situations. A nice 10-minute video chat can go a long way toward alleviating loneliness and isolation.
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5. There Are Definitely Scams
Unfortunately, lots of bogus opportunities have cropped up to take advantage of people who want to work from home but aren’t sure how to begin. Generally speaking (excluding direct sales), if you have to pay money to access an opportunity, it’ll probably be a scam. Ultimately, use the sniff test: if it seems too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true.
There are TONS of great opportunities out there, so don’t be put off by the fear of getting scammed. Just do your research and go with your gut.
6. People Around You Won’t Get It
Even though millions of people work from home now, there are still millions more who think that “working from home’ means sitting around in your pajamas all day doing pretty much nothing. Family members, friends, neighbors, and even people you meet in the checkout line will make all kinds of weird assumptions about your schedule when they find out you work from home -- everything from saying “I’d love to sit around all day, too” to asking you to run errands for them “since you’re not doing anything” to wondering why you can’t just drop and go see an afternoon movie when you have a work conflict.
The best thing you can do is establish working hours (or at least a work routine) for yourself, and stick to it. Occasional lunch with a friend is always great, but you need to show the people around you that your job might be at home, but it’s still a job that requires actual work.
7. It’s Totally and Completely Worth It
Once you start working from home and you find the right fit for you, you’ll never want to stop. I like to joke that I’m now completely unemployable because I have no desire to go back into any kind of corporate setting, with bosses and performance reviews and all that. No thanks!
That’s not to say the hard times aren’t hard, because there are definitely times when you’ll hit a wall and just feel completely done. When I have those times, I just think about why I got started in the first place, and I imagine what my alternatives are. That helps me realize that working from home, despite its challenges and difficulties, is absolutely the right thing for me.
Do you have any questions about what it’s really like to work from home? Let me know in the comments!
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