30+ Things About Working from Home: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

I’ve worked from home for well over 10 years through several companies and several positions, including as management, and there is a lot that you learn about the concept.

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Work at home jobs are getting more and more prevalent and the technology to do so is getting more and more user friendly. This means a lot of “entry level” type jobs are starting to become available. Many are call center type jobs. Many are inbound (meaning that you sit and answer the phone) some are outbound (you call customers to solicit sales, do follow up calls, request surveys, etc.). If it matters to you, make sure you ask. Some are chat jobs where all you do is type (these are rare). Of, course,  there are many other opportunities that are appearing as well, but these account for the majority.

 

So, what is it really like to work from home?

 

What’s Bad About It

Work at home positions, while getting more prevalent, are still coveted positions. This means that employers view working at home as a perk big enough that you will tolerate less agreeable conditions than in a brick and mortar setting.

 

  • First, if you are imagining working when you feel like it, if you feel like it – then working at home probably isn’t right for you. Working is less “work at home” more “home at work.”  You will have metrics and goals to meet and they take into account that people tend to screw around at home, so they are hard and strict.

 

  • Expectations are often higher for work at home jobs than brick and mortar because employers know that you don’t have to walk all the way across the building to use the restroom and use an elevator to get to your lunch.

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  • Most work at home jobs require you to put their software on your computer. This means that it is going to take up resources on your computer.

 

  • It also means that while you are at work, you are likely being monitored as to your activity, so things like an open Facebook could be a detriment.

 

  • Related to the previous, most of the programs required for you to work are data hogs, especially those that involve the telephone. What this means is there really can’t be programs running in the background. But, that’s not all. It also means no one else in your home can be streaming data (Netflix) or playing online games on their PC or Xbox.

 

  • You will probably find yourself working at home on holidays more often than you would in a physical location. In your employers eyes, you are technically “at home” and you don’t have a commute to work. Retail companies that normally would close call centers on holidays stay open and usually working them is mandatory if you are scheduled – no changes, no switches. Some don’t give holiday pay.

 

  • Longer hours are usually expected, especially during peak times and seasons. This means shifts that are 9 to 11 hours long that may be mandatory.

 

  • There are some work at home jobs that do allow you to work when you choose your working hours, BUT their systems are set up sort of like a military dog kennel. The job slots and tasks are dumped into a central location and grabbed and snatched by whoever gets them first and claims them. As the employers want to make sure the jobs are filled, they overhire. This means you had better be on your toes and dedicated to snatching those jobs when they hit. Fortunately, some places publish the times when these will be released. Unfortunately, everyone else knows them too.

 

  • Most work at home jobs are call center jobs – this means your office must be silent. No dogs. No kids. No nursing babies while you are on the phone. No television. No Music. Nada. Nothing but silence.

 

  • Your friends and family often do not understand the concept that you are working and not to be disturbed. They will stop by. They will call. They will walk into your office to randomly talk to you.

 

  • These jobs usually pay less than the same job in a physical location. Often it is several dollars or more in difference.

 

  • If you get a salary position, make sure you ask for a good salary and are prepared for a greater commitment to working than a front line employee. While normal salaried management positions often work longer hours than subordinate positions, this is amped up a bit. As a work at home manager, it is likely you will be expected to work when called upon and be available when needed, because, after all, you’re at home. If you feel comfortable enough in your position, it’s best to set your boundaries at the onset of taking the job.

 

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Don’t plan on sick days. You’re already home. Work at home employers are much less understanding since you have no commute and are already close to your own personal box of tissues. You’ll likely be allowed to leave, but it’s going to affect your performance more than it would at a physical location.

 

If you are imagining yourself working while cooking dinner, doing laundry, etc. rethink it. You can do so on your scheduled breaks, but not while you are working.

 

 

  • Self discipline is a MUST. Your performance largely depends on your willpower. No one is looking over your shoulder. Being that you are a less “human” employee because you are not physically present, reprimands are often swift and sharp. I’ve witnessed some people that weren’t even told they were let go, they just couldn’t sign into the system one day because their metrics were low.

 

  • You are your own tech support. Knowing computers is a vital part of most positions.

 

  • Most of the equipment costs will be up to you. No one replaces your computer chair or your keyboard for you, except in certain companies.

 

  • If your computer gets a virus or fries a motherboard,  you will be responsible for fixing it and you won’t likely be paid during the downtime.

 

  • You will need a very high speed internet.

 

  • Office politics are still alive and well, they will just be wearing a new face.

 

  • If you are intending to climb up from an entry level position, it will be a more difficult struggle to make yourself stand out. In this environment, you aren’t exactly able to just sit down next to the hiring manager at the cafeteria and become best buds.

 

  • Some people need the social aspect of work to feel “whole.” They want to shoot the breeze with coworkers around the water cooler and need face time. This is usually not available in work at home jobs, because many of your coworkers will live across the country.

 

What’s Good About It

Now that I have been a Negative Nelly, let’s talk about what’s good about it.

 

  • If you are somewhat antisocial and don’t enjoy coworkers, then work at home is going to be a step up for you. Most of your communication with coworkers in work at home positions will be done through chat programs. You’ll still have to talk, but they aren’t in your face.

 

  • You don’t have to fight for a parking space at work.

 

  • You don’t have to drive in the cold, ice, and snow (this is a big deal to me).

 

  • To be blunt: your bathroom and your kitchen. You don’t have to worry about germs or other people’s nastiness that is generally the hallmark of a shared public restroom.

 

  • Privacy. If you want to pick your nose at work, no one is there to see you. If you want to work in your pajamas, same deal. Win.

 

  • Usually, even though the salary is lower, you are still offered the same perks as those who work in physical location, so discounts on products and perks are pretty sweet.

 

  • No prep time. You don’t even have to brush your hair.

 

  • No travel time. You can get up 10 minutes before your shift and stumble to your computer, turn it on, and go to work.

 

  • No one drinks your expensive coffee or eats your snacks.

 

  • You control the temperature climate to your comfort.

 

  • If you have something about you that is out of the “norm,” then you get an advantage. No one can see your age, race, weight, physical capabilities, etc. You can have pink hair if you want to. While employers are not allowed to discriminate on paper, we know that most often they do. This means that if you personally feel that something like your weight has been holding you back, it becomes a non-factor. Your personality and performance is generally the only thing that management will see.

 

  • It’s your environment to do with as you please. If you want a calendar on your wall with My Little Pony on it, no one knows, no one judges.

 

  • Continuing on that thought, you get the chair you want and don’t have to worry about someone swiping it. You also get the best office in the building.

 

  • No cubicles.

 

  • In most cases, no one is dating their way to the top, so that means everyone has a shot.

 

  • Expenses for clothing are lower. Your budget there can be either nonexistent or go into pjs if you wish.

 

  • Travel expenses plummet. If you have a clunker car, it becomes less of a concern. Less travelling means less wear and tear and you can save a lot in gas.

 

 

Tips:

– Your performance will override your appearance and your charisma. We all know that guy who smiles and wiggles his way out of making the quota. That will very likely not happen here.

– Remember to focus at work. Don’t get into sloppy habits that will make you feel at home and not at work or it will effect your performance.

– Don’t try to sneak playtime in at work. Your employer is going to figure out you’re playing Facebook Games if you make a habit of it. Just because they aren’t there, doesn’t mean they can’t see you.

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