‘Work From Home’ Misconceptions: The Truth About Remote Work

The term “work from home” is more or less a catch-all phrase for work completed outside of a traditional nine-to-five office setting. In actuality, many jobs that are considered “work at home” careers can be done from practically anywhere. Some get work done at the local library, others choose to put in their hours at a local coffee shop.

Aside from this, there are a few popular misconceptions about “work at home” jobs that may disappoint job seekers who don’t properly do their research. Although the desire for flexible work has increased dramatically in recent years, telecommuting isn’t for everyone. To know whether or not work from home jobs are for you, there are a few things you probably want to consider.

The very first thing anyone seeking to perform remote work should consider is productivity. When one takes on telecommuting jobs, they begin to shift from a career under an ever-present employer to truly becoming their own boss. While this sense of new-found freedom is intoxicating, it can also be accompanied with a lack of drive. Just because you’re no longer in a traditional office structure doesn’t mean that things like deadlines, timelines, and continued communication go away.

Working at home means that you are self-directed much of the time. It’s up to you to set your schedule and work hours. You must also keep a close eye on your deadlines as to make sure you complete work on time. Failure to do so can have the same consequences as a traditional nine-to-five job.

Another bizarre assumption about work at home jobs is that they’re limited to mundane tasks such as stuffing envelopes or folding brochures. Speaking of which, be wary of any work from home job opportunity that promises to pay you hundreds of dollars per day just to stuff envelopes. If it were possible for a person to become rich by sitting at home putting letters into blank envelopes, don’t you think quite a few people would have quit their jobs to do so? When answering job ads for remote work opportunities, remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Instead, seek out jobs that have in-office counterparts — the type of jobs that could be accomplished in a traditional work environment. If you were an administrative assistant for several years but want to work outside of the office, find out if companies are seeking freelance assistants who can perform tasks remotely. Certain other job markets, such as freelance writing and web design, never completely relied on employees working from a fixed location and continue to thrive.

One final bit of advice is that it’s important to take growing competition into consideration. Not just domestically, but internationally as well. There has been much discussion about what blogging and freelance writing has done to the world of journalism. Journalism majors find their job searches strongly affected by changing work dynamics and unexpected competition from non-Journalism majors.

Regardless of what type of work at home position you are seeking, you should always get the lay of the land. Are telecommuting jobs rare or discouraged? Do you need to work in-office before you can perform the job from home? Ask questions and get as many answers as possible in order to be better prepared when job hunting.

Anyone can work from home if they really want to, but it’s up to the individual to make as many adjustments to their thinking and behavior as possible to ensure efforts pay off.

[Image Credit: William Hook]