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A Beginner's Guide to Working from Home

Working from home may seem like the dream at first. From avoiding that stressful daily commute to ditching the office outfit for some yoga pants, there are many benefits for employees who have the opportunity to work from home.

However, there are certainly some drawbacks. For example, you may start to feel disconnected from your co-workers who you only see on video conferences, or your productivity could go down as you focus more on household chores rather than your work.

In this guide, we will spell out what it means to work from home and provide tips on how to be even more productive than you were in the office. We will also discuss what kind of jobs are perfect for working from home and how to find a legitimate work-from-home position.

What Is Involved in Working from Home?

A work-from-home job is pretty self-explanatory. Rather than working at a desk in your employer's workplace, you get to work at a desk in your own home. We will talk about COVID-19 and other circumstances that may force you to work from home in a minute, but the trend towards working remotely has heated up over the past decade.

Technologies, like Zoom, Slack, G-Suite, and Teamviewer, have made it much easier for employees to work from home and still access their work desktop, attend meetings, and communicate quickly with co-workers. Also, employers can monitor productivity through various project management tools to ensure that employees are working and not watching YouTube all day.

This setup can work great for both employees and employers. According to a survey released by Owl Labs, 34% of U.S. workers would take a pay cut of up to 5% to work at home. In fact, in that same survey, remote workers said they were happy with their jobs 29% more than workers who went to the office every day.

Employers can benefit from buying into a work-from-home program as well. Employees are happier when they have the opportunity to work from home, which means they'll want to stay longer. Also, for full-time work-at-home positions, a hiring manager can tap into a much larger talent pool to find the best possible candidates for the job. Plus, fewer employees in the office means greater flexibility and less overhead, saving employers money.

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What Do I Need to Work from Home?

Every work-from-home job is different, so you will need to go over this with your employer or a prospective one if you're on the job hunt. You will certainly need a computer and a reliable high-speed internet connection. If you utilize any software on your work computer in the office, you will need to be able to connect to your company's VPN (virtual private network) and access those programs remotely. You may also need to route incoming calls to your cell phone if taking calls is part of your job.

Besides relevant hardware and software, these are some other factors that will make working from home easier:

  1. Set up in a quiet area where distractions are limited: If possible, devote a specific room to your workplace - preferably one with a door. You don't want to set up in a living room, kitchen, or any other high traffic area in the home unless you know there won't be many people around.
  2. Turn off all the distractions: Just because you can turn on a movie or tv show when you work at home doesn't mean you should. The same goes for social media and online shopping, as all these will likely affect your productivity. Try to turn these off. If the temptation is too much, there are browser tools that block sites you want to prevent yourself from visiting. A calming music playlist may be a good idea, though!
  3. Act like you're going into the office: Although we did mention yoga pants, many people who work from home say that wearing clothes they would wear in the office, setting the alarm, and doing other things they used to do when working onsite really helped them adapt. You still have a commute. It's just a little shorter now.
  4. Stick to a regular schedule: If you took lunch at 12 every day when you worked in the office, you should try to take lunch around the same time now. Sticking to a routine while working from home will help you treat those eight hours as a job - because it is.
  5. Make sure everyone at home has the same game plan: If you cannot work completely alone, it's important to communicate your expectations with anyone who will be home at the same time as you. Ask them to respect your space because you may be home, but you're also at work.
  6. Stick to quick meals or meal prep for breakfast and lunch: It might be tempting to prepare a complex meal since you have access to a whole kitchen and not just a microwave, but you may only have a half-hour or hour for lunch. Eat a quick meal and take a walk instead for energy and some quality time outside.
  7. Working from home doesn't mean you're on call: Just because you don't enter or leave the office every day doesn't mean you should work all hours of the day. Separate work time from leisure time to ensure you maintain a healthy work-life balance. We would encourage you to pick a definitive time to end the workday to maintain boundaries between your personal life and work life.
  8. Avoid doing chores during work time: It might be tempting to throw that load of laundry in the washer or vacuum because things look to be a little messy. However, one chore tends to lead to more, which can affect your overall productivity. Leave the chores for when you're off the clock, so you're not spending time and energy on things not related to work.
  9. Make a plan ahead of time: Commit to a schedule ahead of time. It'll make your life so much easier and help you adapt if things change. As you work remotely longer, assess when you're productive so you can schedule more complex tasks during those times when you're at your best.

How Can I Find a Work-from-Home Job?

One question we often hear from candidates is whether work-from-home job offers are legitimate. While it's true that there are some bad apples who run scams, most of the time, a job posted on a reputable job board or by a staffing agency will be real. There are many benefits for employers to hire remote workers, so many do offer work-from-home opportunities.

Your Checklist for Finding a Work-from-Home Job

  • Have a clear understanding of what kind of position you want and whether it can be remote.
  • Search for companies on our job search and legitimate job boards.
  • Research companies that post jobs that interest you. Glassdoor and Indeed are useful resources to help you learn more about the company.
  • Submit a resume, cover letter, and other documents tailored to the responsibilities of the position.
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What type of industries allow working from home?

Did you know that 43% of workers say that they spend at least some of their time working from home? This number is sure to grow in the upcoming years for the benefits we discussed above. Most industries post remote positions, but there are specific industries that you're more likely to find remote work than others. For example, it would be pretty difficult to work in the foodservice industry and prepare food from behind a computer.

Here are some industries that are giving the green light to remote work:

Customer Service

The days of the giant call centers are gone. Today, many companies hire customer service agents anywhere in the country as they can communicate with and help customers over the phone, by chat, or via email. This flexibility means customer agents, technical support representatives, and others in the customer service industry can work from home pretty efficiently. If you are good under pressure, empathetic, and enjoy interacting with people, the customer service industry is one to consider.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry employs remote workers in a wide variety of roles and sectors. Some of the most common remote positions include billing specialists, schedulers, insurance agents, patient advocates, and medical coders. As telemedicine becomes more accepted by patients, registered nurses and even doctors may find opportunities to work outside of the office. The healthcare industry is expected to grow 14 percent by 2028, and many new positions, both full-time and part-time, will present remote opportunities.

Education

From part-time tutoring to course curriculum development, there have never been more opportunities to work in education and never have to step foot in a classroom. Time and budget constraints have caused more people to look at online options that offer more flexibility and affordability. Teachers and tutors can reach students anywhere in the world, and online schools and course marketplaces are popping up as demand increases. This means more remote opportunities for education professionals.

Sales and Marketing

Sales is about direct communication with customers and persuading them that they need your product to fulfill a specific need. While you certainly need to be knowledgeable of your products and services, an excellent communicator, and self-motivated, the one thing you don't need is an onsite office. Many salespeople telecommute and contact customers over the phone, via email, or in-person at the customer's location.

Marketing managers, copywriters, web designers, videographers, and lead generation specialists are responsible for developing branding and getting the right message to the right audience. They typically work in front of their computers and may use design programs, like Photoshop or Illustrator, or analytics and inbound tools, like Google Analytics or Hubspot. These roles can easily be performed from home as well through RDP and cloud-based software.

Administration

You don't have to be in an office to run it. Many administrative assistants work online to schedule meetings and appointments, speak to vendors, manage an executive's schedule, oversee projects, handle HR tasks, and more. As long as you are relatively fluent with certain software and technologies and have excellent interpersonal skills, there are remote opportunities available for companies of all sizes and industries. The most common administrative positions you will find include administrative assistant, office manager, and executive assistant positions.

Web, Software, and Information Technology

You can find a web, software, or IT job outside of Silicon Valley. Many companies recognize they are limiting the talent pool when they just look at candidates from the coasts. Increasingly, web, software, and IT jobs are being performed remotely by computer-savvy professionals from anywhere across the globe. The most current opportunities include web maintenance, IT support, computer programming, and systems engineering positions. This is a fast-growing industry, but you will need to have experience or a degree in a relevant field.

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Working from Home and the Coronavirus

As this piece is being written, we are in the midst of a global pandemic known as COVID-19, or the coronavirus as it's widely known in the public. Schools, restaurants, stadiums, and many other businesses and organizations have been forced to close for social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. Some industries, like foodservice or beauty care, may not offer remote opportunities as they involve close contact among people. What we have learned, though, is that many jobs can be performed remotely.

From teaching students in a virtual classroom to conducting client meetings on Zoom, we are implementing the work-from-home option on a grand scale for the very first time. This means many workers who are used to inter-office banter and Casual Fridays will be working from home, which will likely take some time to get used to. For those working remotely, we have already mentioned some of the key things you should do: treat remote work like you're going to an office, don't do chores while working, and stick to a routine.

In addition to that, workers working from home for the very first time should keep in mind that remote work is different work. You may have to pay close attention to what you're doing and provide documentation, so your employers know how productive you are. Set expectations with your employer so you know what is expected of you and what they should expect in your new setup.

You may even start to feel isolated or alone, which is not uncommon. Be sure to stay in communication with your co-workers and take breaks, so it's not just you and your computer screen all day. If you can't go out to interact with other humans, try videoconferencing and have a ten-minute standup with your co-workers as you would if you were in the office.

The coronavirus pandemic will not be the last natural or humanmade disaster our country will experience. Still, technology and employers' policies will enable workers to complete their work from the safety of their homes. It may take some time to adjust, but, hopefully, these tips can help you if you are working remotely or pursuing a remote position in the near future.

And always remember, if you need help finding a job or getting a better understanding of what you'll need to stand out as a candidate, our experienced professional staffing team is ready to take your call.

Staffing Services In Greater Philadelphia

J & J Staffing Resources is a professional staffing agency that connects local businesses to job seekers throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

We bring over 45 years of expertise in office, industrial, technical, and professional staffing placements as well as payroll management, and offer a wide range of services for both employers and job seekers.

Need help? J & J Staffing has offices in Newark, Bridgeport, Woodbury, Cherry Hill, Ewing, Princeton, Langhorne, and Horsham. Visit your local J & J staffing center or get started below.