Working from home used to be a rarity, but according to 2017 U.S. census data, roughly 8 million U.S. residents regularly worked remotely.
Remote work opportunities are more common than ever, especially with the coronavirus pandemic leaving many offices, schools, and services to find creative ways to employ their staff from their homes.
Whether you’re starting a work from home venture, working remotely temporarily, or just looking to try something new, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about working from home — from finding remote jobs and setting up your space to boosting your productivity.
Before getting started, it’s important to consider if working remotely is a right fit for you. While working from home might seem like a dream come true, it requires a lot of self-discipline and isn’t right for everyone. Here are some questions to consider before settling on a work from home job:
- How important is social interaction at my job? While many remote jobs have communication devices like Slack and Zoom, depending on your job type and the time of day, you might have no interaction with other people. For some, this might sound like a perk, but many people struggle with little face time for extended periods.
- What’s my home life like? Working from home can feel isolating for many people, particularly if you live alone. Consider what your home life is like and imagine spending an additional eight hours at home. If you rarely go out, would being at home more cause you to feel isolated? Or, if you’re bogged down with responsibilities at home (like running the kids to after-school practices, chores, hanging out with friends, etc.), would working from home give you the time alone that you crave?
- What would my job look like? Depending on the job you’re seeking, working from home can look very different. For instance, a freelance writer might find it easier to concentrate at home, away from distractions and co-workers. However, a therapist might find it harder to pick up on facial cues or red flags during sessions. While every profession has a way of boosting productivity from home, keep in mind that to be successful, you might have to change the way you do your job.
One decision you’ll want to make is whether you want to be self-employed or work remotely for another company. There are many pros and cons to each, but here’s a quick way to decide what’s best for you.
- Self-Employed: As a contractor or freelancer, you can set your own rules and expectations, as well as decide which clients and companies to work with. However, what you earn will be up to how much effort you put into finding and securing new opportunities. You’ll also have to manage your taxes or pay someone to help, and you’ll be responsible for your health benefits and retirement savings plan.
- Work From Home Employee: As a traditional employee working remotely, you’ll need to follow all of your company’s rules and regulations and make sure you’re completing tasks on time. You might be limited to how you can work from home and what software you can use. You’ll also likely make a set salary or hourly rate. On the upside, you may be eligible for health and retirement benefits, work from home supplies, and you won’t have to worry about paying estimated taxes.
More and more industries are allowing flexibility in the workplace, including working from home. Whether you’re looking to change jobs, stay with your current employer, or pursue a side hustle, there are many remote opportunities to choose from.
Here are a few common positions for those who want to work from home.
- Marketing Manager - More and more marketing companies offer flexibility to work from home, making this career choice ideal for anyone looking to dip their toe into remote work. These managers might handle a team of creatives or run specific campaigns and strategies for clients. The average pay for this position is around $64,500.
- Developer - Many developers opt to work in quiet environments, allowing them to concentrate on building complex code and solve complicated business problems. Front-end web developers, specifically, are often granted the flexibility to work remotely, whether for a company or as a self-employed entity. The average pay for this position is around $71,145.
- Curriculum Designer - Creating a curriculum for instructors is a full-time job in its own right. Curriculum designers organize, write, and design curriculums for schools and other instructional institutes and can often work from anywhere. The average pay for this position is around $61,389.
- Copywriter - There are many types of copywriters working remotely – from independent contractors and part-time writers to full-time marketing copywriters. Since writing can be handled entirely online, working from home is a natural option for this profession. The average pay for this position is around $50,570.
- Designer - Designers, specifically web designers, are often able to create from anywhere. Whether they’re crafting designs for marketing materials, websites, or apps, most companies employing designers allow them to work remotely. The average pay for this position is around $49,649.
- Social Media Manager - This type of manager focuses on social media campaigns on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. They plan new campaigns, track engagement, and help build social media presence and site traffic for companies. Social media managers can often work in-office or remotely. The average pay for this position is around $49,881.
- Recruiter - A job recruiter helps candidates searching for opportunities find the best positions out there. Recruiters might work for an agency or specific company and could also spend time writing job descriptions, reviewing resumes, and networking. The average pay for this position is around $49,554.
- Translator - If you’re fluent in another language, you can work remotely as a translator. Translators will take written documents and translate them from one language to another. They might also transcribe audio files into written text while translating along the way. The average pay for this position is around $49,974.
- Virtual Assistant - A virtual assistant is someone who helps an entrepreneur, businessperson, or executive manage their day-to-day tasks. Their daily job could vary depending on their employer’s needs, but a typical day might involve scheduling meetings, arranging travel, taking meeting notes, and coordinating between multiple parties. The average pay for this position is around $39,617.
- Customer Support Specialist - If you have a background in customer service, it’s easy to find a remote work position tailor-fit for you. Customer support specialists who work from home might answer client phone calls, webchats, or offer video support. They might also communicate via email or social media. The average pay for this position is around $41,382.
These are just a few of the many positions that typically offer remote work possibilities. You can also find many available remote jobs in the medical, accounting, and educational industries.
Once you’ve decided to work from home, you’ll need to make some changes to your living space to prepare for your new job. If you’ve never worked from home full-time, these tips can help you better separate your work life from your home life.
- Find a dedicated workspace.
Whether you work full or part-time, choosing a dedicated workspace within your home to complete your job duties is critical. Having an area where you consistently work can keep your “office life” separate from your home life. This can be especially important if you share your home with roommates or family members. Having a place where they know you’re working will prevent them from interrupting you throughout the day.
You don’t have to have a spare room to create a workspace. Carving out a small corner or table in your home used only for work is all you need. You can rearrange furniture to create more of a separate space or invest in a divider to keep your desk area as private as possible.
- Keep regular office hours.
If you’ve never worked from home, you may think this position will make it easier to work less. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many remote workers. Not having clear office hours or a place to punch in and out can make it hard to ever feel “off the clock.” It’s very easy to spend extra hours working, which can lead to an unhealthy work-life balance.
One way to avoid falling into this slump is to keep regular office hours. Wake up well before your shift starts, stick to a morning routine, and start working on time. It’s fine to make adjustments here and there as needed, but keeping a regular schedule will prevent you from feeling like you’re constantly working.
- Take breaks throughout the day.
When you’re working from home with a pet on your lap and lounging in comfortable pajamas, it may feel like there’s no need to take a break. You might even eat while working or attending meetings. However, staring at a screen for a long time throughout the day isn’t healthy. It’s recommended that even remote workers take breaks. Not only will it break your day up, but also it’s been found to boost productivity.
Get away from your screens and enjoy a nice walk outside, visit a nearby coffee shop, or enjoy a quick snack while staying offline for a few minutes. Research suggests taking breaks for 12% of your workday is best for your health. So, if you work eight hours a day, you should take roughly 58 minutes of break time.
Moving around on your breaks is also important. Since you’re no longer going from room to room for meetings or walking as much during the day, it’s important to move when you can to stay healthy.
- Get the right tools to do your job.
Working on a laptop can be less than optimal if you’re checking a lot of screens all day. It’s also not the most ergonomic solution. If you work for a company, ask about getting additional computer monitors, wireless keyboards and a mouse, speakers, printers, and any other office supplies you might need.
If you freelance, investing in the tools that make you most productive can help improve your workdays. Buying a desk that quickly converts from sitting to standing or a supportive chair can also improve the quality of your remote work life.
- Stay social and communicate.
If you work for a company remotely, it can feel hard to communicate with co-workers when you’re not in the same room. Even if you have conference calls, the level of interaction isn’t always the same.
Stay invested in your job by communicating with colleagues throughout the day. Be active in video calls, send chats here and there, and offer to help when another employee is feeling overwhelmed. Communicate with your supervisor, and be sure to ask about any new opportunities or optional team calls to get more involved at work. Get social, too. Join or host virtual hangouts or happy hours to get to know your co-workers better off the clock.
If you freelance, this can be a bit more difficult, as you’ll often be dealing with clients instead of teammates. Make sure you communicate clearly throughout the day with any clients expecting you to turn in work and ask questions if there’s ever any confusion. You can also network with other like-minded freelancers in your area through social media, so you have a group to bounce ideas off of and go to for advice.
Working from home has incredible benefits. You save money on gas, get more face time at home, have better flexibility in your schedule, and have the freedom to work from anywhere. Thanks to technology, working from home is more accessible than ever, with more and more companies turning toward remote work options.
If you’re ready to kickstart your work from home career, are looking for a side job, or just want to explore your possibilities, let Joblist help. We combine all of the most popular job listings into one easy-to-view board, so you can scan through all available positions at once. Search by industry, location, or position for even more focused results.
Stop dreaming of the day when you’ll finally do what you love and let Joblist match your skills with the perfect career.