Working from home is a goal for an increasing number of people.
The Coronavirus pandemic made it a necessity as a way to protect health and family.
Working from home is becoming more widespread.
With the Coronavirus closing down many employers, technology is helping us continue to earn a living, making it easier for us to generate a good income by working “remotely” from our homes.
While most employers have not had the option to stay open, given the requirements of “social distancing” created by the response to COVID-19, many office workers have been able to retain their jobs (and their income) by working remotely from home.
Work From Home / Remote Benefits
Working from home, remotely, has many benefits for the employee:
- Avoid wasting time, energy, and money in long commutes to an employer’s location
- Avoid the expense of paying for childcare.
- Stay busy and engaged while continuing to generate income after retirement.
- Allow employers who do not have workspace for employees to still have work done by those working remotely.
- Generate income while staying home, taking care of children or other family members.
- Earn money while attending school.
- Test out a new career with “side hustle” work-from-home projects to build skills and experience (and references).
- Generating additional income while also working one or two (or more) “real” jobs with other employers.
For employers, the benefit is usually lower expenses since office space is usually expensive.
2 Main Types of Work-From-Home Jobs
Not surprisingly today, we enjoy many different ways to work from home, from working “remotely” for an employer to running our own businesses.
1. Employee working “remotely” for an employer (“telecommuting”).
Many employers allow their employees to work from home at least part of the time — a few days a week, part of a day, or every day. If working from home interests you, ask other employees to learn if it is done by any part of the organization. (Check out this list of 25 companies hiring for work-from-home jobs).
If you are interviewing for a job and want to work from home, ask about how many employees work from home, how many days a week (or a month) they work from home, and how they stay in touch with their manager and co-workers.
Obviously, telecommuting does not work for every job, and working in isolation from the manager and co-workers has a few hazards. Without frequent contact, the feeling of “connectedness” among employees may fade, sometimes resulting in lower job satisfaction and job performance.
Recent research has shown that connecting face-to-face via an online service like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, and many other services and apps improves the situation for all parties. Ask which form(s) of communication are used or may be used in the future.
2. Self-employed as a freelancer, consultant, or contractor.
As a freelancer, essentially you are running your own home-based business. Work-from-home businesses vary widely.
Some people invent products which they pay someone else to manufacture marketing those products from their home. And, others sell products that others have designed and manufactured (like Avon or Mary Kay cosmetics).
You can also rent space and work out of an office for your business. In some locations, “coworking” or “shared workspaces” are available, used by many independent workers. A desk, office, or other workspace is available for rent by month, week, day, or (sometimes) hour, depending on your needs and their rules.
If many different people will pay you to do legitimate work, you can (and probably should) set up an official entity as an “LLC” (Limited Liability Corporation”) or incorporate your business (as an “Inc.”). The requirements for each type of business vary widely by location, so check your local government’s rules.
Your goal may be simply to avoid dependence on a single employer, or you may be looking to supplement the income you receive from your job. By 2028, half of us in the USA will be “freelancers,” according to an NPR/Marist poll. This may also be called “contracting, “location independent,” “remote work,” or “gigs.”
The way consultants work for their clients varies, but usually one of these methods dominates:
- Consultants may work for one client at a time, sequentially.
This consultant works a few weeks (or months) for one client. Then a few weeks (or months) full-time for a different client, and so on. The downside of this is the gap between clients (and income). Continuing to market your services while working is usually a necessity for this type of consulting. With social media, this may work well for your potential clients, or more personal marketing (meetings, emails, etc.) may be required.
- Consultants may work for multiple clients at the same time. This consultant focuses for a few minutes, hours, or days on the work needed by several different clients. This requires the ability to jump quickly and easily from client project to client project.If you do exactly the same thing for each client (like managing an email list), then time management may be relatively simple. If you do different things for different clients (like setting up a blog for one client and managing the web content for a different client), work can be more complicated.
The options are too numerous to list. These businesses can range from being a marketer, a driver, a baker, a carpenter, a cook, a web developer, a writer, an accountant or bookkeeper, an attorney, a graphic designer, a hairdresser, a teacher, or an administrative assistant to MANY other options.
Before You Start, Check Out the Competition
When you have an idea of what you want to do (hopefully, something you enjoy doing), look around to see who else is doing it — if anyone. Identify your market (local, regional, worldwide), and then research your competition in that market.
Who seems to be most visible and successful? How do they market their services — a website, a blog, LinkedIn, TV, or…?
If no one is doing what you have in mind, it could represent a great opportunity or a bad idea. Research to find out what is going on, and why. Maybe you have discovered a gold mine. Or, maybe not.
Launching Your Business
The smartest thing to do when you begin to run your own business is to speak with a local accountant, a local business attorney, and a local insurance agent.
You need to protect your assets (bank account, home, car, etc.) by staying compliant with the existing laws for your location. These local professionals should know the “rules of the road” for running a business where you live, and you need to comply with those rules.
You may want to do this on a part-time basis until you feel comfortable depending on it for your full-time job.
Start your career as a freelancer by reaching out to members of your network, looking for potential clients who have problems you can solve.
LinkedIn can be an excellent launching pad. Find potential allies as well as potential clients through your LinkedIn connections, and raise the visibility of your business with the contents of your Profile, your posts, and your other activities.
3 Important Requirements for Freelancers!
Nothing is perfect, naturally, even working from home. Legal requirements are usually associated with running a business.
Also, be prepared for these issues:
1. Carefully Track Your Activities and Expenses
Whether or not you are paid on a project basis or by the hour, keep good records of what you are working on, when, and how long. Even when you don’t charge by the hour, you need to understand how much time you spend on each client/project so you understand if you are earning enough money — which work pays the best?
Don’t forget to also track your business expenses like car mileage, parking fees, tolls, public transportation, and other relevant expenses, associated with your work.
Often having a bank account for your business (for the business revenue and business expenses) and a credit card you use only for business expenses (like paying membership fees for professional organizations, lunch with clients or colleagues, purchasing supplies and equipment for your business) is the best approach.
2. Carefully Track Your Revenue
A major issue for those who work from home is that, unless you have a “permanent job” with an employer who does the tax withholding and pays for other benefits like medical insurance, you need to pay 100% of your own taxes.
No one you work for as a consultant or independent contractor will do tax “withholding” when they pay you for your work. The good news is that nothing is deducted from what you are paid. The bad news is that you are responsible for both the employer’s share of your SSI taxes as well as your own.
This means that you pay both the employer’s taxes on your salary (because you are your own employer) and also the employee’s taxes as the recipient of the income.
3. Get the Required Permits or Licenses
Depending on what you want to do and where you live, you may need a license. This is obvious for people who drive cars for a living, but less obvious if you are a cook or a bookkeeper.
Google your location and what you want to do plus the word “regulation” to see what you find.
The Bottom Line
The Internet has made it possible for more and more of us to work from home which will, hopefully, be “a good thing” for all of us. You may work from home telecommuting for a single employer. Or, you may set up your own business, working independently from home. Even when the Coronavirus pandemic situation has passed, working from home will still be popular, probably more popular as we will hopefully have more experience doing it successfully.
Are you looking for a remote, work-from-home, or flexible job? Visit our partner site FlexJobs to find verified jobs in many different categories, including transcription jobs from home, human services jobs, healthcare administration jobs, and more.
To Learn More About Work From Home:
- Work From Home: Making Life Easier
- Work From Home: Child-Centric Business
- Work From Home: Social Media Consultant
- Work From Home: Caregiving
- Work From Home: Sales Jobs
- Guide to Freelancing/Contracting
- How to Work From Home: 7 Tips
- How to Work from Home Effectively
- 10 Legitimate Reasons to Call Out of Work
More About Flexible Job Options:
About the author…
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker, and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com (and you’ll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter).
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