WAH: Can You Succeed With Work-At-Home Jobs? [Opinion]

Are you tired of commuting to work and dealing with interoffice politics? Maybe you have friends who do work at home, a.k.a. WAH, and you and envy them for having such an “easy” job. Before you quit your office job and make the leap into WAH careers, do an honest assessment of your abilities and resources to see if you can succeed at this rewarding career track. While many work-at-home employees embrace the challenges and love the rewards, it’s not for everybody.

You’ll Need A Dedicated Workspace For WAH

Setting up a dedicated workspace is one of the easier requirements for work at home, as most people can find a desk or table to set up their computer, telephone equipment, or any other equipment required for a particular job. You may tell yourself you can just set up at the dining room table every day, but that will likely get tiresome quickly with having to construct and deconstruct your “office” every day. You’ll likely lose your dining room table to becoming a permanent office.

Pregnant woman working in home office

Do You Have a Quiet WAH Environment During Work Hours?

If you have kids at home during the day, this can be quite challenging unless you get a night shift position doing WAH tasks. Many moms with small children do work evening hours and night shifts for this very reason, but if your kids are old enough to be in school, you should have the peace and quiet to be able to do phone work as well as online jobs without background noise distracting you or your clients.

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Work-At-Home Jobs Require Discipline And Focus

That brings us to another big factor that determines your success at WAH — finding and keeping your focus. Most people who transition to WAH are ecstatic to not have to make the commute or go through the whole process of getting out the corporate attire, styling their hair to perfection, and putting on makeup every day. You may be tempted turn on the TV while you’re working, and to be fair, some people can work well with television in the background, but for most, it’s a distraction. So is the cell phone, with people calling and texting you, especially if they know that you’re now working from home.

Many members of the WAH crowd can tell you that once word gets out you’re working from home, everyone wants you to run their errands for them. It’s a common misconception that work at home means not really working. In fact, Portlandia did a whole comedy sketch aimed at this presumption with work-at-home people organizing and chastising anyone who interrupted them throughout the day.

While it made a funny sketch, the reality of WAH is you must set firm boundaries with friends and family during work hours, and set firm boundaries with yourself as well. Many people who do work at home also say that it helps them get into work mode to do the very things that they often did for an office job: getting up, getting dressed in casual business attire, and doing the whole hair and makeup thing. Experiment to see what works for you.

man working at home

Can You Live On WAH Wages?

The harsh reality of switching to WAH jobs is they often pay much less money than going to an office. Companies know how desirable it is for potential employees to be able to have the luxury of working from home, and they lower wages to compensate for the high number of applicants. Much of the work can also be freelance or as an independent contractor, which means you’ll have to be able to budget for paying your own taxes and you probably won’t have an option for health insurance. While WAH freelancers got a bit of a break the last few years with having ACA available, with healthcare up in the air now, you may find yourself in a very precarious position unless you have a spouse with health benefits.

If you decide to become a work-at-home mom or career person, prepare to start couponing and subscribing to money-saving blogs, including The Penny Hoarder, which not only gives you great money-saving tips but also posts about a lot of work-at-home opportunities. There are also a lot of blogs and resources for finding WAH jobs you should subscribe to. The nature of work at home tends to be very unstable, with jobs coming and going, so having two to three months worth of the savings is highly recommended. (Actually, that’s recommended for anyone, but especially for anyone wanting to go the WAH route.)

The Technological Requirements For Working At Home

Different WAH jobs have different technical requirements. Most people with a fairly new computer can easily meet the requirements for their computer system, but there are other considerations. Most notably, for a lot of WAH jobs, you’ll need high-speed internet and the ability to connect directly, rather than using Wi-Fi. Some employers will even test this before hire, in case you’re thinking you’ll just say you have high-speed cable internet, while you’re really connecting via Wi-Fi to your poor satellite internet system in the middle of nowhere.

Some WAH companies also require an old-fashioned landline telephone, so you may have to invest in that as well. Also note you may need a quality headset if you’re doing telephone work, although you can find these fairly cheap on Amazon or even at your local Walmart for Target.

WAH sounds like the greatest career option ever, and it can be a dream come true for many who can handle the special challenges needed to succeed. Just make sure you have what it takes before you give up that lucrative day job with benefits and your very own cubicle.

[Featured Image by iStock/monkeybusinessimages]