For those interested in telecommuting jobs either because you want more work-life balance or control over your personal life, you may rightly suspect that there are certain kinds and lines of work that lend themselves better to remote working. Despite great advances in technology and a shifting workplace culture that permits flexible working, or remote and telecommuting work, it still seems like most jobs are traditionally set to be on-site, in an office or other setting.
Many telecommuting and remote jobs are not ever listed on job sites because many are negotiated by full-time employees who want to work remotely or part-time employees who convince their managers and employers to allow them to work from home and telecommute. However, if your manager or company doesn’t allow these options, you may have to look elsewhere if you’re trying to find a telecommuting job or figuring out how to work from home.
We did some research about which telecommuting jobs exist and were surprised to find that they span every industry, and are surprising in how diverse they can be. While we expected that certain roles would require an on-site presence (e.g. doctors and construction work), many other jobs we traditionally think of as requiring you to “be there” (e.g. teaching) can be done via telecommuting.
What we noticed when we explored telecommuting jobs is that they are also quite varied in terms of job level, seniority and experience. They are certainly not all entry-level, nor low-paying jobs and many in fact, require a few to several years of experience. The vast majority of these positions appear to be “true” telecommuting jobs (like customer service jobs that involve home-based work) and allow you to work from home or any place of your choosing, while some require occasional travel to the corporate office or to clients.
We scoured the internet for job listings sites that feature legitimate work-from-home jobs and telecommuting jobs and found these were the 37 most commonly listed types of telecommuting jobs (in alphabetical order):
Accounting jobs (e.g. book-keeper, controller)
Administrative assistant / personal assistant jobs (remote)
Attorney / legal jobs
Business operations jobs
Claims processing jobs
Customer service jobs (e.g. call center)
Data analyst/analysis jobs
Data collection jobs
Financial lending jobs (e.g. loan officer)
Insurance underwriting jobs
IT / architecture jobs
Marketing jobs (e.g. telemarketing, digital marketing)
Market research jobs
Nursing jobs (e.g. nurse practitioner, nurse hotlines, screening)
QA / quality assurance jobs
Recruiting / HR jobs
Physician assistant jobs
Product management jobs
Program associate / assistant jobs
Project management jobs
Social worker jobs
Software development jobs
Social media jobs
Sales jobs (e.g. field sales, account executive, relationships manager, business development)
Teaching jobs (e.g. online course instructor, test prep instructor, professorships)
Translator / interpreter jobs UX design jobs
Travel counselor / assistant jobs
Website design jobs
Writing, journalism and editorial jobs (e.g. bloggers, editors, content managers, copywriting)
Now that you can see that many types of professions may lend themselves to remote working, where do you begin to find a telecommuting job?
We have previously written about the places you can find remote jobs. Many mainstream job-listing sites have places where you can search for telecommuting jobs and remote work but we found 34 places online where you can find and filter specifically for telecommuting jobs.
If You Like Your Job But Want to Start Working from Home
If you’re mostly happy with your job but you’d prefer to get your work done at home, think about what would change if you weren’t going into your office each day. Are you constantly collaborating with your coworkers or having meetings with clients while at work? If so, that doesn’t mean working from home is impossible -- but before you raise the issue with your boss, you’ll need to have a proposal for how you can successfully remain part of the team even if you’re not present. Whether you commit to being on Skype during work hours or you plan regular phone calls, make sure it doesn’t seem like you’ll be any less reachable.
If You’re Specifically Looking for a New Work-From-Home Opportunity
If you’re thinking of leaving your job and you’re interested in a more flexible arrangement, consider what kinds of companies and jobs might offer what you want. Oftentimes computer/IT jobs and arts-related jobs like writing, graphic design, social media jobs, and photography can easily -- and perhaps even more productively -- be done at home.
If You’re Interviewing and Want to Suggest/Request Working from Home
If you’re in the process of interviewing for a job and you want to find out whether it would be possible to work from home, do your homework before raising the question. Check the company’s website/careers page to see if they have any kind of information or description regarding flexible work. Go a step beyond that and make sure to check out employee reviews; even if a company boasts flexibility to seem more desirable, they might not actually be so keen on the idea.
Try to get a sense of your interviewer and the office culture to see whether working from home seems feasible before suggesting it. To broach the subject, you can also try to find out how much employees tend to be in touch after work hours/what the typical schedule is like.
Don’t Sacrifice Everything to Work at Home
Working from home may be a deal breaker for you, whether for family reasons or because of a physical issue. But if it’s not, don’t give up a position you otherwise love just because you’re not able to work from home. There are pros and cons to every job, and if you’re mostly happy with yours, suck it up and make the trip to your office every day...your couch will always be there when you get home!
You may be worried about avoiding distractions and remaining productive while working from home, and we get that. Tha'ts why we've put together a list of 8 tips for effectively working at home:
1) Make a to-do list in the evening so you have a clear outline of what you plan to accomplish the following day. Of course, checklists can be helpful in any work environment, but when you’re bound to face more distractions, they’re especially important tools. Even if you’re interrupted, coming back to your list will keep you grounded and encourage you to work an extra hour in the evening if you spent some time midday taking care of something personal. Crossing of items feels good, and if you don’t get through everything, you have a head start on your list when you begin planning for the next day.
2) Pretend you’re getting up to go to an office. It’s easy to get into a routine of rolling out of bed and working on your couch in pajamas, but that gets depressing quickly and can lead to a pattern of sluggishness. You’ll likely be more productive if you wake up, shower and get dressed before starting the work day; it will encourage you to feel more disciplined and focused rather than giving into distractions and getting sidetracked.
3) Make sure your family and friends know and understand that you have boundaries. Sometimes you’ll have to remind your loved ones that even though you’re not in an office, you can’t respond to personal calls or texts all day long. Be assertive and rigid so you don’t mislead others into thinking you’re available 24/7. If you're a stay-at-home mom who's looking for some part time remote work, make sure you choose a position that will allow you some flexibility to multitask.
4) Set aside a physical space where you can work effectively. You may not have separate office space at home, and that’s OK. But plant yourself at your desk or table rather than in bed or in front of the TV. Make sure you’re comfortable yet not in danger of dozing off or periodically turning on a show or movie.
5) Move to a new space if you’re losing steam or zoning out. Working at the same desk all day might make you antsy, especially if it’s the same space where you sit at night to figure out bills or help your kids with their homework. Migrate to your kitchen table or a nearby coffee shop if you need a change of scenery.
6) Get in the habit of checking in regularly with your colleagues. Working at home might spare you from facing the tensions that come with working in close quarters, but it’s important to remain just as connected and productive with your team when you’re not physically near each other. Whether you’re in touch just once a day on a phone call or more frequently via Skype or email, emphasize that you’re present and communicative.
7) Set up regular in-person meetings with your colleagues. Depending on the nature of your work, this may be necessary once a week or once a month, but it will keep you on track and on the same page as your co-workers if you have at least some face time, and it will provide the added advantage of making your work feel less abstract and more connected to the bigger picture.
8) Make sure you go outside. There’s no substitute for air and sunlight! If you know you’re going to be in your house or apartment all day long, go for a run or walk in the morning or evening, or even midday when you might otherwise be taking a quick lunch break. It’s crucial for your physical well-being and will also help you focus and be productive. Try a few different routines and set a schedule that works for you.
If you’re in a position that allows you to work flexible hours and/or from the comfort of your home, consider yourself lucky. Take advantage of your situation by setting some guidelines for yourself, and you’ll be in a good position to maximize your time in both your professional and personal life.
Finally, if you're still debating whether working from home is the right move for you, consider the pros and cons of freelance, remote and part-time jobs:
To keep things simple, we tried to summarize the main benefits and issues with these job types at the highest level possible. Of course for every type of industry and profession, there may be nuances since a part-time attorney is not going to have identical lifestyle and work issues as a freelance web designer or graphic designer.
Pros: You are your own boss, which means you play by your own rules.
It’s completely true that you don’t have to work with any people you don’t want to, take on any assignment that you choose. You may (and many seem to) gain a lot of control over your time, your client base, and the type of work you do. You can cut down on commute time, balance other life-priorities on an ad-hoc, or project-by-project basis which means you can also change your mind about the kind of boss you want to be.
Cons: It is a lot of responsibility to essentially run a small business.
Most freelancers and advice about becoming a freelancer seems to requires a lot of hustle, time and energy to earn your keep which means that before you are well-established, you may have to work more and have even less control of your schedule (due to client demands) than you had while employed full-time. Since you’re not an employee, you will also have to pay for the benefits like healthcare or vacation or disability out of your own pocket, which is part of the expense of running a freelance business.
As one freelance writer concludes: “It’s not always simple, but the payoff is a job that I love and work-life balance that would never be possible in a traditional work arrangement. In the end, it wasn’t all about passion and paychecks. However, I realized that if you have the two, it only takes a little more effort to figure out “
Pros: If you work part-time, you have more time for other things (whether those things are family, hobbies, other responsibilities or even other part-time jobs / entrepreneurial projects).
Assuming that you are choosing to work part-time (as opposed to just taking a part-time job to get your foot in the door somewhere), the most obvious advantage to being a part-time worker is having more time for other pursuits and interests. Many times, mothers are interested in part-time work due to the fact that they have family and care-taking responsibilities but others may be interested in part-time work so they can simply have more time for other activities (including side-projects or entrepreneurial pursuits).
Cons: Most employers do not offer benefits or the same job security to part-time employees and there is more uncertainty about your place at the company, in general.
As Laura Vanderkam points out, part-time work is often “stigmatized” even though others say that “meaningful part-time work is the holy grail of work/life balance for many women.” That’s because going part-time or even requesting it may make your colleagues view you as less committed to your job. In fact, many part-timers accept less than their pro-rata reduction in pay just to compensate for the concern that they may seem less productive or committed.
That said some women, like Anneke Van Dien, say that they “never want a full-time job again.” At first, she worked part-time because she simply wanted one job that paid for the bills, and another to pursue her passions. Then, she went part-time in order to save financially on child-care and to spend more time with her toddler. It’s not necessarily an easy decision, but clearly one that some women make happily. New business models and companies are taking advantage of the fact that many women with children feel similarly.
Pros: With home-based work, you can save time and costs of commuting, work more flexibly in many remote jobs, and you can choose to work in many different environments and locations that might suit your personality and personal life needs.
Technology has made it more likely than ever that many knowledge-based work can be done remotely. Sure, you can’t be a remote waitress or doctor but for many others, remote-working is a real possibility for their role. You can save a huge amount of time and money by working remotely, and it is something that can improve your job satisfaction as well as improve your work-life balance.
Cons: It may be hard to get certain types of jobs, plum projects, or promotions without the face-to-face relationship building that your traditional co-workers will receive on a daily basis. Depending on your personality, you may also miss the energy and lack of interpersonal interaction with others and you will may have to create a structure for your day and be more self-disciplined than the average bear.
One fan of remote working, Brooke Tomasetti is a marketing professional. Tomasetti shares her quite structured work schedule when she works remotely and points out that while she “only typically works one or twos days a week from home”, it “makes a huge difference” in her happiness and productivity.
While it may seem hard to make the transition between a full-time traditional job to one that involves remote work schedules, a part-time schedule or freelancing, it’s certainly possible and clearly seems to be the right decision for some.
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