Photo: Eduardo Otubo
Your next place of employment might just be your home. More and more employers are realising the cost savings and productivity that comes with letting employees work out of their homes, so don’t be surprised if you trade your morning commute at your next job for a corner office…in your living room.For employers, it’s cheaper to let you work from home than to rent office space. And they know you’re more likely to be loyal and stay with the company if you’re happy with your work setup. And for you? The perks are many. You can work in your PJs, drink your own coffee, and avoid getting distracted by colleagues by the water cooler. You also open up your job possibilities beyond the confines of your geographic area.
[See 50 Best Careers for 2011.]
Here are some interesting statistics on the benefits of telecommuting (Telework Research Network):
- It can save more than 280 million barrels of oil, or over $23 billion (based on $80/barrel).
- Telecommuting could reduce greenhouse gases by 53 million tons—that’s equal to taking about 10 million cars off the road for a year.
- It can increase national productivity by 5.5 million man-years ($235 billion worth of work).
- Working from home can save businesses more than $200 billion in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, and turnover—together with the value of the increased productivity, that’s more than $10,000 per employee.
By 2012, telecommuting roles are expected to increase by 65 per cent. The roles best suited for telecommuting include sales, customer service, writing and marketing, programming and IT, and virtual assistance. Are you ready to go virtual?
Is Working Virtually Right for You?
While many people enjoy working from home, it’s not for everyone, says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs.
“If you feel comfortable spending a good amount of time by yourself, and are able to self-motivate and get your work done independently without a lot of direct supervision, telecommuting is definitely a good fit,” says Fell. “But telecommuting isn’t for everyone, and if you have trouble concentrating or prefer to interact in-person with people on a regular basis, you might want to reconsider telecommuting, or look for roles that allow partial telecommuting so that you can be in the office for a couple days each week.”
It may take you a while to adjust to having easy access to the television, washing machine, and snack cabinet, but once you get into a routine, you’ll find it easier to get work done at your home office. Set office hours so that you are focused on work during those hours, and home activities and chores outside of that period, just like you would have if you commuted to work.
Watch Out for Scams
While there are plenty of legitimate telecommute jobs out there, beware of the scams. For every real job, says Fell, there are 60 scams.
Look out for jobs offering to pay you for:
- stuffing envelopes
- data entry
- assembly work
- multi-level marketing or pyramid schemes
- shipping management
- rebate processing
Most are common sense and send up red flags immediately, but wanting easy money makes it hard to see the truth sometimes. Avoid applying for jobs that promise fast money for little work, ask you to pay a fee, or use capitalised letters or lots of unnecessary punctuation. Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Another interesting tip adds is to avoid searching for “work from home” jobs as this phrase is associated with a lot of the scams. Try searching for “remote work,” “telework,” or “telecommuting” instead. Will you join the ranks of the telecommuters?
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.
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