Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Working for the Man Every Night and Day

A lot of people have this idea that working from home is the mother lode and you get to sit around in your bathrobe eating peanut butter straight out of the jar while playing Farm Town and someone pays you for this. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that it typically takes two hands to eat peanut butter straight out of the jar (one to hold the jar and one to hold the spoon) and it also takes a minimum of one hand to perform any work-at-home task, so working from home is not always the most fun thing ever.

However, if you're interested in exploring an outside-the-box career path, you should be as informed as possible. Let's start with the pros and cons I've learned from my own work-at-home experiences:


  1. You really can sit around in your bathrobe if you insist.
  2. Use housing expenses as a tax deduction!*
  3. Save money on commuting to work. Not only do you not have to spend as much on gas; you also don't put as much wear and tear on your automobile. And if you're one of those people always running five minutes late to everywhere, then you greatly decrease your chances of getting a speeding ticket which could drive up your insurance! Now that I think about it, I guess you could save money by wearing your ratty bathrobe everyday, too.
  4. Because you don't have to spend time driving to and from work, you can incorporate more time for yourself and your family.Maybe you can try dusting off that treadmill that never gets any run time before heading over to your desk.
  5. There's a job out there to fit almost everyone.
  6. Many companies have flexible work schedules that you can adapt to your personal or family needs.
  7. You don't have to take an entire day off work because you have to be at home in case this is the day the cable guy shows up!
  8. You're less likely to suffer stress and greatly reduce the chances of catching all the colds that make their way around traditional office settings.
  9. Access to potential jobs thousands of miles away that don't require relocation. If nothing else has caught your attention, then this one should
  1. If you insist on wearing that ratty bathrobe everyday, you could turn into that slovenly guy who walks around the house wearing a ratty bathrobe and resting his coffee mug on his belly. Don't let that happen to you. 
  2. Human beings needs social interaction as a normal part of our mental hygiene. If you work from home and never seek outside relationships beyond your computer screen, you could turn into that guy in the ratty bathrobe. Leave the house and see your friends! Or at the very least, invite someone with laptop over to play Kingdom of Loathing with you.
  3. Working from home turns home into, well, work. If you don't set up your home office in its own designated space your home may lose it's status as a place to relax and recharge and become one big office. Be sure to separate your work from your home so everyone can relax.
  4. Organization, discipline, and motivation  is key to working from home. If you lack these skills, then a work-at-home experience may not be beneficial to you.
  5. Finding a work-at-home job with benefits is difficult at best. Many companies prefer to hire  "contract workers." Contracting means that you are not an employee of the company, but rather a business entity unto yourself that is contracting with the company.
  6. Because you may be hired as a contract worker,  you'll get a 1099 at the end of the year and will be responsible for paying your own federal, state, and social security taxes.
  7. A lot of your friends and family think that because you work from home that you're not really doing anything and you have time to talk, hang out, or take their Great-Grandma Irene to the grocery store and the hairdresser. You have to be firm in dealing with your loved ones and teach them that you have an established work schedule that is not open to interpretation.
  8. Many jobs require special skills that may require you to further your education or have prior experience. Examples are medical coding and transcription, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and web design.
  9. Working from home with children can be a special dysfunctional family sitcom of its own. If you have especially young children, it may be best to arrange childcare for them or perform your work duties around their sleep patterns. If you have older children who are out of school for the summer, then may the force be with you because you're going to need it. A lot of it. See this picture? This picture is a LIE!. In about 15 seconds that kid is going to wonder if he can get his truck inside the computer screen by throwing it. Then he's going to decide he wants a peanut butter sandwich with the crust cuts off and he's going to spend time trying to refurbish the carpet by stomping peanut butter into a nice little mosaic all over the living room floor. Don't let nice pictures fool you! We're talking about real, live children who like to flush underwear and rolls of tape down the toilet when no one is looking.

If you've weighed the pros and cons and decided that a work-at-home option can work for you, then check out these forums. My favorite so far has been Work Place Like Home. I've included several links to WPLH because they have extensive listings of available online jobs and excellent resources. Unfortunately, you must sign up as a WPLH forum member to read the links. I strongly encourage you to do so if you're seriously interested in work-from-home employment.
Work Place Like Home
Rate Race Rebellion
Work Home Career Kit
wahm.comWork at Home Mafia   Freelance Writing Gigs

Helpful Links from Work Place Like Home
Companies that Hire You as an Employee
List of Online Employers
Non-Phone Jobs
Tips on Researching a Company
How to Work from Home GuideWarning Signs and Red Flags - Not every job offer you receive is a legitimate job. A lot of "jobs" are actually scams that either do not pay you, are trying to sell you something, or are attempting to access your personal information. Always research every company offering you a job before providing your personal information. A legitimate employer is not going to ask you to transfer company funds to your account, nor will they require you to pay a processing fee or purchase special equipment. If it sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is.

In Summary
Having worked a few online jobs, I can say there are legitimate jobs to be found that pay well.  I've written for a couple of websites, tried my hand as a ChaCha guide (which I didn't quite find worth my time), scored standardized math questions for Pearson, and served as a Census enumerator. Okay, the enumerator wasn't quite a work-at-home job, but more like a "live in my car" job. The point is, I didn't have to go into an office to do that particular job.

Pay ranged anywhere from $2.00 an hour (ChaCha) to $15 an hour (Pearson.) Depending on your skills, hourly pay can be even higher. There are jobs for writers, typists, medical coders, virtual assistants, web designers, legal secretaries, bloggers, data entry operators, tutors, teachers, accountants, customer service representatives, and I even saw a Craigslist advertisement calling for an experienced Ford mechanic. The trick is to find the niche that will benefit from your skills.

*Consult with an accountant. Basing all of your tax decisions on a blog post by a woman with an English degree is probably not considered a valid defense by the IRS.


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