Telework: Is It Right for You?
“The practice of working from home, making use of the Internet, email, and
the telephone. The ability to perform responsibilities from anywhere in the world.”
Sound appealing? Telework (also known as telecommuting or working from home) is ideal for you if you desire flexibility and portability. As long as you have a computer and internet access, you can continue your work through multiple moves, changes in lifestyle, family responsibilities, or whatever may keep you from working outside the home.
Advantages and Challenges of Teleworking
There are many benefits to telecommuting. Telecommuting allows a worker greater freedom regarding his or her work hours and work location. This gives the employee more flexibility to balance work and personal obligations. And individuals who move frequently (such as those in the military) can retain one job through all the changes in their life — whether it be a move across the country or a lifestyle change.
As well, telecommuting 1) eliminates the job commute, parking and wardrobe costs, and 2) frees up more time, allowing you to spend it with your family or doing other activities you enjoy. Often working from home can actually make you more productive, because you do not have the distractions of an office space.
However, teleworking isn’t without challenges:
- You have to be extremely self-motivated or you may get easily distracted.
- You might be tempted to keep working past your normal hours because your computer is a few feet from your bed, or you may be compelled to constantly check emails.
- You also need to find a productive place to do work, such as a home office or coffee shop.
- Additionally, some people find working from home to be a bit isolating as you are not around your coworkers.
When considering a telecommuting job, it is important to weigh the advantages as well as the challenges.
Where to Search for Work at Home Job Listings
Jobs are posted all over the Internet, which can potentially make your job search difficult and overwhelming. While you do not want to rely on a single website for job listings, you also don't want to waste your time with a pointless search.
Explore some of these sources in your search and be sure to use well-defined keywords to narrow the results (this will cut the time you spend searching).
- LinkUp.com - Job search engine LinkUp.com searches only for jobs on company websites, so it's a good way to avoid scams. Search using "telecommute" or "telecommuting" as a keyword to find legitimate work at home job listings.
- SimplyHired.com - Use SimplyHired's "telecommute" search options to find work at home job listings from job boards, company websites, and other sources.
- Craigslist - Search for work at home freelance positions by entering "freelance" or "work at home" as a keyword in the search box on the front page of the site. Otherwise, click on the city that interests you and review the list of job openings. Be aware that Craigslist is also a good place to find scams, so do your due diligence.
- Job Boards - Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and the other top job boards all contain work at home job listings. Search using keywords like "freelance", "telecommute", "work from home" and "work at home" as well as by the type of work you are interested in (see example below).
A Word of Caution on Work From Home Jobs
Jobs that promise you oodles of money with little investment of time and no experience aren't legitimate. Legitimate work at home jobs are going to require you to have skills relevant to the position. They will also require that you put in actual working hours because real companies require real employees, even if they are working in a virtual space. Take the time to research every job lead you find and every site you visit very carefully. Final word of caution: back out of any website that asks for money, no matter what they promise.
Your Current Job: How to Negotiate with Your Boss
In today’s environment it is possible for many different types of professionals to work from home. As technology becomes increasingly widespread and more companies move their operations online, many tasks can be completed remotely. You might be surprised to learn you can complete your current job, or a position in the same field, from home.
There are many reasons employees ask to work from home: long commutes or scheduling issues can make it a better option. Sometimes, it's easier to get focused work done at home than in a busy or loud office environment. With video hangouts, office-wide chat programs, remote access to servers, and other technology innovations, working from home is often very doable.
However, your manager or human resources department may be uncertain about allowing you to work from home, especially if it's not common in your company.
Be prepared to be flexible when negotiating a work from home arrangement. The more flexibility you suggest to your employer, the better your chances of getting a “yes” answer.
Sample Request to Work From Home
Following is an example of an email message asking to work from home on a part-time basis. The letter mentions that the employee has been working part-time from home on an informal basis. It goes on to request a formal work from home arrangement on a part-time basis.
When you're putting in a request to work from home, be sure to mention how you will get your job responsibilities done when you are not working in the office. Mention how allowing you to work from home will benefit the company.
Also be as flexible as possible, providing your manager with options that will work to ensure staff coverage of the office.
If you're requesting permission to work from home on a temporary basis (maybe during the summer), be sure to clarify this in your email message.
Subject Line: Request to Work From Home Part-Time
As you know, I have been working some days from home on an occasional basis. I have found that my productivity has increased, and I am able to focus well on my work activities in my home office.
Would there be a possibility of working from home two or three days a week? I value my time in the office, and believe that my hours there are important. However, I think I can be just as effective, if not more so, by working from home a couple of days a week. Of course, I would be flexible based on which days worked best for you and the rest of the staff.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
If you would like to work from home, you should make a written request to your supervisor either in a letter or email. This initial written request may need to be followed by a formal application, forms, and documentation as required by your employer.