Written from firsthand experience and supported with interviews of successful work-from-home individuals across a variety of circumstances, this handbook is a thorough and thoughtful resource on generating an income outside of the traditional office environment. The author scrutinizes every aspect of working from home, dividing the guide into two parts: working from home for an employer and starting a home-based business. Offering a checklist of pros and cons in addition to realistic advice that takes into full account the limitations that may arise in any given situation, the book tackles everything from logistics to legality—including understanding tax forms, setting up a work space, staying motivated, succeeding with self-marketing, and basic accounting aid. The book also provides helpful advice for seeking a job, creating a winning resume, and nailing the interview as well as avoiding scams and rip-offs.
|Publisher:||Huron Street Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)|
About the Author
Jane Jerrard has worked from home as a freelance writer and editor since 1997. In that time, she has written across a variety of genres, including hundreds of trade journal articles, a regular career-development column for physicians, and numerous books, which include Crisis in Employment, How to Get a Great Job, and Privatizing Libraries. She lives in Chicago.
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Working from Home
Earn a Living Where you Live
By Jane Jerrard
American Library AssociationCopyright © 2013 American Library Association
All rights reserved.
The Basics of Working from Home
If your goal is to make money without leaving the comfort of your own home, you're living in the right time. Today more than ever, employers are more apt to allow their workers to telecommute. After all, it's more cost-effective for companies to hire staff who work off-site than to support an office. At the same time, more entrepreneurial spirits are starting their own businesses from their homes.
So the odds of realizing your goal are in your favor — and you can improve those odds by preparing yourself with some solid information. This chapter and the next lay the groundwork for those seriously considering working from home, providing an overview of telecommuting and self-employment.
A Popular Trend
It is difficult to find specific data on how many people work from home, because many statistics include employees who are allowed to work occasionally or regularly from home but are primarily located at their workplace. However, in the 2008 U.S. Census 5.9 million people said their home was "their principal place of work." That number included 3.1 million who ran their own business, so at that time some 2.8 million employees — or just over 2 percent of the employed population — worked at home for their employer.
This percentage is even larger if you consider those who occasionally work from home. According to WorldatWork, a nonprofit organization that monitors human resources issues, in 2010 a whopping 26.2 million employees worked from home (or remotely) at least one day a month. That's 20 percent of the entire U.S. workforce. As for people who run their own businesses from home, that number varies as well, but it could be as high as 38 million, according to U.S. Census statistics.
In a 2008 survey by staffing company Robert Half International, a whopping 72 percent of employees indicated that flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another. Thirty-seven percent specifically named telecommuting.
Employers are now more accepting and even enthusiastic about their workers getting jobs done remotely. WorldatWork's 2008 survey of 2,288 U.S. companies showed that 42 percent of respondents allowed employees to work remotely — a huge increase from just 30 percent the year before.
There are multiple benefits and savings associated with hiring workers remotely, according to Herb Cogliano, CEO of national IT contract staffing company Sullivan & Cogliano. "Companies have access to less expensive labor pools," he points out. "This doesn't mean just offshore, but if you're based in Boston, or L.A., or New York, you can hire a phenomenal worker who lives in, say, North Dakota, and pay a lower rate than you would for someone in your major metropolitan market."
Even the U.S. government values the cost savings of having employees supply their own workspace — and the increased productivity that results. For example, at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office more than half of the approximately 10,000 employees work remotely full-time, and the rest do so part-time. Internal audits show that those patent examiners who work remotely put in an average of 14 hours more work each year than their office-bound counterparts. And the agency estimates that it saves nearly $20 million in office space costs.
The Telework Research Network estimates the following benefits to organizations that employ telecommuters:
Productivity increase: 27%
Reduction in real estate: 18%
Reduction in office building electricity: 18% (net of home office electricity)
Reduction in unscheduled absences: 63%
Reduction in employee attrition: 25%
Who's the Boss?
For some, the idea of working from home involves reporting in to a corporate headquarters from your home office; for others, it's starting up a small business in the basement. These types of home-based jobs are radically different — and covered separately in the two parts of this book.
There is another, hybrid kind of working from home: working as a long-term contractor or temp worker through an agency. In this scenario, your agency may find you the work and will definitely send you a steady paycheck (and even take out standard payroll taxes) for the duration. Your contract with an organization may run weeks, months, or even years. However, there is no guarantee that the work will continue endlessly; working as an independent contractor is a lot like being self-employed in many regards. Writer Heather Z. Hutchins was surprised to discover that many people work as long-term contractors from home and have been doing it for years. "I didn't know that this type of job even existed. If I had known, I might have done this earlier. I liked my time as a freelancer, but it was a feast or famine kind of work environment. Now, I have a steady workflow and a steady paycheck."
Choosing Work You Can Do at Home
So many jobs are routinely filled by employees working from their homes — and even more when you count people who run their own home-based businesses. According to Occupational Outlook Quarterly, the most logical telecommuting tasks are those that "require concentration and large blocks of uninterrupted, independent time ... have well defined beginning and end points ... [and] call for minimal special material or equipment." Here are some examples that show the range of job options that can be done from home:
house cleaning/office cleaning
insurance brokerage services
medical case management
online auction selling (such as eBay)
pet care/dog walker
private detective services
social media work
survey/focus group participation
verification by phone
STOP! You Can't Do That from Home
There are legal restrictions on certain types of home businesses. Before you set up any home-based venture, check your local and state laws and familiarize yourself with the laws and licensing requirements of your chosen profession. If you want to open your own home-based daycare center, you must understand your legal obligations for staffing, safety, and other matters. If you set out to sell your famous cupcakes to area restaurants, you must follow local and industry standards for food preparation — which will probably involve renting time in a commercial kitchen.
Narrow Your Options
With so many choices, how can you decide which work-from-home jobs are best for you? Start by considering work you're doing now or have done successfully in the past. What are your skills and abilities? Check the latest version of your résumé — and if you don't have a résumé, now is the time to draft one. Do you have desirable work experience that will translate to a new job working from home? The easiest solution is to find a home-based job similar or identical to your current or planned-for career. On the other hand, if you are looking for more variety, you can consider how your skills and interests might translate to a different type of work.
Either way, there are some excellent resources that can guide you to the types of jobs you should seek out. You can find them at your local public library or online. These publications outline some important details about occupations, including the levels of training and education required.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, should be available at your library in print and can be found online at www.bls.gov/oco. Revised and updated every two years, the OOH includes detailed career information for all types of occupations, including a description of what workers do on the job, training and education needed, expected job prospects, salaries or wages, and working conditions. You'll also find links to information on state-by-state job markets, job search tips, and more.
O*NET, the Occupational Information Network, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Employment and Training Administration. The Network's public database, O*NET Online (www.onetonline.org) is a user-friendly resource with information on nearly one thousand occupations. Browse by occupation, by industry, by level of education needed, or by skill set. There is a lot of information and a lot of ways to search for it — so dedicate some time to browsing this reference.
Expand Your Skills
When you are trimming the list of possible work-at-home jobs, don't trim too far. In some cases, getting a certification or gaining some experience before you land a job can pay off. Maybe you need to learn new skills or specific business expertise; maybe you will have to pass an industry-specific exam. If so, see if your public library can help. Many libraries own software that teaches or tests specific skills — from an extensive program on studying for the GED, to a civil service job exam, to a practice exam for master carpentry.
Other Factors to Consider
Before you jump into the job ads, take a few minutes to assess your situation. Knowing your limitations will help you narrow your search.
How much time can you devote to a work-from-home job? Do you have another job, classes, young children, or other time commitments? Be realistic about how many hours you would be able to work each day or week, and don't apply for or accept a job that requires more than you can give.
Are there other factors that might limit your work time? For example, if you need a computer to do your work, is that computer available to you any time, or do you have to share it with others in your home? If you are keeping an eye on your kids after school, how much work can you realistically do during those hours?
Is there an appropriate place in your home for what you'd like to do — whether a home office with high-speed Internet or an area to set up a beauty salon station? Do you have everything you need to do the job, or can you get it? Do you need a dedicated telephone line, storage space for merchandise you are selling, or a vehicle to get you to clients' homes?
If your assessment reveals that your time, availability, or access to a workspace and tools may seriously limit your ability to make money working at home, then consider work-arounds — such as the alternative workplaces listed in chapter 2 — or rethink your goal. Flexibility is crucial to working from home, even before you land a job.
Money: How Much Can You Make?
Undoubtedly, you picked up this book because of the title. You want to earn a living, or make some extra cash. But how much can you make when you work from home? The answer is as varied as the types of jobs you can find or create, but the following table shows what professionals earn in some positions that are frequently home-based.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics. Wages are for 2010 and are based on full-time employment.
Although these figures are not specifically for home-based positions, they should apply to all workers in these positions, both on-site and remote. There is a chance that a home-based employee may even earn a little more: a 2007 study found that a remote employee often makes a higher wage than one working the same job on-site.
Keep in mind, though, that much of any salary is deducted for Medicare and Social Security, and for income taxes, before you receive it. When you see a job listed with an hourly wage or annual salary, you can use an online calculator to verify how much pay you'll be taking home (or, in this case, keeping at home with you while you work). The Hourly Wage Calculator at http://us.thesalarycalculator.co.uk/hourly.php is a good example. Type in the annual salary offered, and the calculator tells you what your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual take-home pay will be.
For those who plan to start their own home-based business, there is no sure way to estimate how much you will earn. You can, however, add up your costs of doing business in order to calculate how much you'll need to earn to turn a profit. And of course you won't be exempt from paying income taxes on your profit. Chapter 6 goes into more detail on this.
Money Saved Is Money Earned
It's not just how much money you can make working from home — it's also how much you save by not working a traditional job. Telework Research Network has estimated that employees who work from home for just half of every workweek save an average $362 per year on gasoline alone. Other possible savings include, on average, $7.37 a day on meals and $2.41 a day on work clothes. That adds up to $6,800 for these workers who spend just half of every week working from home.
How much do you think you could save by skipping your commute, simplifying your wardrobe, and avoiding cafeterias and vending machines? Fill out the Potential Savings chart below by assessing the costs of the last job you held (or applied for).
Tips and Tricks for Working from Home
To most of us who spend our days working on-site for employers, working from home sounds ideal — no commute, no cubicles, none of the stresses of an unpleasant workplace. But there's more to it than that, and you should have a realistic and complete idea of the changes that come with working from home before you start transforming your spare room into an office.
The Pros and Cons
There are definite advantages to working from home. Many of the negative aspects of everyday work don't exist, starting with your commute. And it is true that you'll be more independent, at least in some respects; a boss can't micromanage someone who is working remotely. Plus, chances are that you won't have to dress up. If you are working at home, you can stay in your fuzzy slippers all day if you like. But there are other benefits you may not have considered:
Employment opportunities. Working from home greatly widens your opportunities for jobs. You can work for an employer in another state or even another country, because location isn't important.
Flexibility. The lack of commuting time and sometimes flexible hours of working from home make it more likely that you can easily schedule two part-time home-based jobs, or a full-time job and a side business.
Productivity. Management experts believe that employees who work from home get more done than those in a traditional job site — either because they put in more hours or because they don't have many of the distractions found in a typical workplace.
Cost savings. As mentioned in chapter 1, you are likely to save money by working from home, and you may earn more as well.
It's Not for Everyone
According to the Telework Research Network, not every employee thinks working from home would suit him or her. In a 2009 survey of workers, 21 percent of those asked about their interest in working from home said they were not at all interested.
Source: www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com /telecommuting-statistics/
These pros of staying home to work probably come as no surprise. But what about the downsides? There are some cons, and depending on your personality and work style, these may be deal breakers:
Isolation. Some people find that they thrive on daily interaction with others, so working alone doesn't suit them. If you get lonely when you are by yourself for eight hours or more at a stretch, or know that you work better and smarter when you can brainstorm in person with colleagues, be aware that the at-home, work-alone lifestyle may not be as fulfilling for you as a traditional job.
Learning curve. Whether you are starting a new job or moving a current position from office to home, how will you perform when learning a new task or skill? Without a supervisor or colleague present to literally show the way, you must be able to grasp and apply new information on your own (or over the phone). If this suits your learning style, go for it. If not, you will need to find a work-around.
Work/life balance. It can be difficult to draw a clear line between work and home when both are in the same place. You may find yourself checking messages after regular business hours, putting in some extra hours on the weekend, or even heading back to your desk after your family heads for bed. To maintain your sanity, your personal life, and your family's happiness, you must train yourself to close the office door at the end of every "shift" — even if that door doesn't actually exist.
Excerpted from Working from Home by Jane Jerrard. Copyright © 2013 American Library Association. Excerpted by permission of American Library Association.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I Working From Home 1
1 The Basics of Working from Home 3
2 Tips and Tricks for Working from Home 15
Part II Working for an Employer From Home 31
3 How to Look for Telecommuting Jobs 33
4 How to Land the Perfect Work-from-Home Job 57
5 Making It Work 75
Part III Working for Yourself From Home 87
6 The Fundamentals of Self-Employment 89
7 Home Sweet Headquarters 109
8 Running Your Home-Based Business 119
Appendix: Small Business Administration Resources for Starting and Running a Small Business 143
Web Resources 165