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Just because you’ve always worked in an office or a traditional workplace doesn’t mean you can’t earn money without leaving your house. I remember going to work from home for the first time. Gas was about $3.50 a gallon and I commuted 50 miles each way. I gained almost two hours a day and saved hundreds of dollars each month.
Are you in any of these situations?
You’re commuting to a soul-sucking job that leaves you feeling drained and at a dead end in life.
You’re a new Mom and desperately want to be home, but can’t afford to quit right now.
You’re a stay at home Mom and need to bring in some income but also need to be home.
You’ve sent resumes out to practically every company within an hour from your home and you’re getting no response.
You may not want to work at home your entire career, but there are times in life when you need to be home and you also need to earn money. So, whether you’re working in an office now and want to transition at least part of your week to home, or you’re unemployed and at home – there are strategies here to get you where you want to be – earning from home!
Now, if you’re currently in a job that’s customer-facing and hands-on all day, it’d be hard, if not impossible to transition any of that to a work from home gig.
But if you work in an office and you do any kind of updates, like spreadsheets or databases, or a lot of phone work, there’s no reason you can’t do that from home at least part of the week.
Or if you’re home now without a job and need to earn money, there’s hope! There are plenty of opportunities to start bringing in a paycheck without traveling.
I’ll split the steps below into two different paths:
1. You’re home now, not working and need to earn money from home.
2. You work in an office now and want to propose a WAH schedule to your manager.
Week One – Assess Your Situation
In week one we’ll position ourselves to be a qualified work from home candidate. Whether you have a job now and want to transition all or part of it to home, or you’re unemployed, there are things you can do to lay the groundwork for being a home-based worker.
Is your resume updated? It’s time to dust it off and look at the experience and skills you’ve listed. We want to make sure you highlight certain skills that a manager would see as effective to function in a work from home job.
Self-motivated – do you function well without someone looking over your shoulder every minute?
Are you a take-charge person? I don’t mean you have to be an extrovert or the life of the party. But if you encounter a problem how do you handle it? A manager looking to either send you home or hire you to work remotely would want to know that you’d make a call, update your team or your manager and follow-up appropriately if you ran into an issue that stopped you from working.
Effective communicator – It’s great to be technically proficient, but working remotely puts increased emphasis on your written and oral communication.
If you’re at home now, not working and need a work from home job – jump down to Week 2.
Or if you currently work for a company and would like to propose working from home there, read on.
If you work in an office now, don’t approach your manager yet.
Instead of approaching your manager cold and getting a big fat No, do a little detective work first. Get your ducks in order before mentioning anything about working from home.
And when you are ready to propose a WAH arrangement to your manager, request a meeting. Whether your company has 6000 employees or 6, request a short meeting.
Because this is something seriously impacting your life. If you feel the need to work at home, even part-time, then you’re feeling an imbalance that’s affecting you and your family. To just bring it up casually to your manager while you two stand in the lunch line doesn’t impart that seriousness. It’s easy for him/her to laugh it off or say, “Sure, let me look into it” and never follow up.
Asking for ten minutes of his/her undivided attention gives more weight to your request. In fact, if you’re a valued employee, the manager will probably realize after this discussion that there’s a good chance he/she will lose you if they don’t give it some serious consideration.
If you can get away with not mentioning the subject of the meeting that’s even better. If you can say, “I have a personal issue I’d like to discuss for ten minutes”, I doubt they’d turn you down.
Be informed before you speak with your manager
While you’re looking over your resume, dig out any performance reviews you have that mention your core capabilities, your achievements or your dependability.
Depending on the size of your company, they may already have an established work from home program. If they do, there’s probably published requirements. Maybe they require you to have a hard-wired broadband internet connection, a landline phone, or maybe a certain length of employment.
Or maybe only certain departments are permitted to work from home. If that’s the case, don’t assume that rule is written in stone. When I first went home nobody in our department had ever been permitted to work remotely. But once I went home and performed just as well as in the office, half our department went home also.
If you do a big chunk of your work on a computer then you know that work is being quantified electronically. And there’s no reason they can’t measure it the same way with you entering it from home.
Even if you have other duties that aren’t computer related, think about the possibility of consolidating your tasks so you can fill at least a day of computer work from home and propose at least one day from home.
If you have a rough commute and can get even a day at home, it’s a win for you and it’s a chance to prove to your manager that this is a great work balance option that will help to retain good employees. And once you can prove there’s no loss in productivity, one day can easily transition to more.
Try to anticipate the roadblocks
What if you work for a company and they have no work from home program?
It’s hard to imagine a company today that hasn’t dealt with the option of working from home unless it’s a very small mom and pop company. If your employer is so small that you do everything from greeting customers to changing a lightbulb, there’s a chance your manager will laugh out loud at the possibility of you working from home.
If you can propose consolidating whatever electronic tasks you have into certain days that may work. But if not, and you really need to be home, you may need to decide whether it’s better to stay versus making a change to a company that hires remote workers.
If the remote job pays less than your office job just make sure to consider:
Less gas, tolls, wear and tear on your car and less time spent commuting.
Fewer lunches, coffee, wardrobe or other expenses.
Your ability to be home for your family.
What if your proposal to work from home is met with: “Sorry we don’t have the capability”.
If you work for a company that uses any type of network, there is capability. Maybe they haven’t implemented it yet, but if you’re sitting at a desk entering data and submitting it anywhere – to a server or another employee, a printer – you can do it from home.
All that’s needed is a VPN or virtual private network connection. A VPN is just another layer of security. Instead of sitting at your work desk and entering a password to log in, you’d sit at home and enter your VPN password. After your VPN credentials are accepted, you’d have access to your work network and then you’d enter those credentials.
So a VPN is just one more ID and password. But the big difference is, now you’re sitting at home! Any IT tech would be familiar with what a VPN connection is, even if they haven’t set one up. And a VPN can be setup regardless of the size of your company.
So, a VPN can be implemented by your employer, but sometimes “we can’t” means “we don’t want to”. So if you run into a roadblock like that, you can spend the next several years hoping they start to offer a more balanced workplace. Or you can make a move.
Schedule a meeting with your manager
Once you’ve done your own research, you’ve looked over your resume and performance review, and you have a dedicated place to work at home, it’s time to schedule a meeting with your manager.
Remember, a sit-down or a dedicated time with him/her is best because it drives home the point that you’re serious about this. Ten to fifteen minutes should be enough to lay out your case.
When you sit down, here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind:
How was your last performance review?
Have you performed well on any projects this past year that highlight your work ethic?
Do you have a good track record of punctuality, reliability and being a team player?
Are you self-motivated? Think of a few examples of when things didn’t go right and you took initiative to get something back on track. This is an important trait to have if someone is going to be trusted to work offsite. If there’s a connectivity issue, they need to be sure that you’ll make whatever calls are needed, keep following up and keep him/her updated.
What parts of your job can you do remotely? If it’s all online and/or telephone based, then you’re in a great position to propose working remotely.
Or if part of your work is hands on, maybe you can propose consolidating your online work to fill out at least a day or two. Possibly even take on additional tasks from somewhere else that can be done remotely.
Have you looked into whether your company has a WAH program? Be aware of it and know whether you qualify.
If nobody in your office is working from home yet, but most of your work is done online, be aware that there is an option to connect via VPN that your IT area can setup.
Here’s what you don’t want to do:
Don’t go into the manager meeting and open it with “I need to work at home because I have a new infant”. Or “I need to be home for when my son gets off the bus”. This may be true and is a really valid reason to want to work from home, but it puts forth your request as a win just for you.
Your manager is probably already aware that your family situation is the primary reason for your request. But emphasizing benefits for the company will give you a better shot at getting approved.
Mention your track record of a dependable employee who goes the extra mile.
Discuss the benefits to the department, like your increased efficiency with no interruptions.
You’ll rarely if ever, be late or absent on those icy, snowy days when you’re not commuting.
Note that you’ll constantly be available via instant message (or whatever your company uses).
Perhaps this could put a feather in your manager’s cap if you can show that your department is blazing a trail with new work/life balance options that will retain good employees.
Week Two – Getting Ready
If you’re working in an office now:
If you received an approval to work at least part of the week at home, congratulations!
A few things will need to happen at the office before you can start at home.
Most likely, a request for VPN access will need to be submitted through whatever channels your office uses. Once it’s approved, you’ll probably need a piece of VPN software installed on your laptop and then you can test it out. Make sure you test it in the office before you go home.
Will you be taking on any more tasks to do at home? Schedule whatever quick training you can do.
Do you have a broadband internet connection at home? If you do, great! If your employer insists on paying for a new internet connection, that’s fine but you’ll want to get the ball rolling and schedule it.
Some people may reject the idea of using your home internet connection – the one you pay for – for work. I used my own and here’s why. I had a situation where I needed to work at home. I was already paying for a cable modem, and even though I used it 40 hours a week for work, I wasn’t being charged any more money for it. I was saving hundreds per month by working remotely. So the less I nickeled and dimed my manager, the easier it would be to permit me to work at home.
If you’re already home and need to work, there are some things you can do to get ready:
Update your resume to emphasize the skills remote employers look for. If you’ll be applying for work from home jobs there’s a good chance that there’ll be some aspect of customer service involved. Try to play up the customer service skills you’ve gained in your work experience.
Skills like active listening, asking probing questions, taking initiative and being a self-starter.
Work from home employers will probably also look for self-motivation, the ability to maintain your composure when dealing with people, reliability, and punctuality.
When you start getting responses from employers, you may hear “can we do a quick Skype interview?” If you haven’t used Skype in a while make a test call with someone. You don’t want to apply for a remote worker position and then fumble around on your first contact with a potential employer.
Get your home office ready – Ok, we don’t have a job yet, but we’re being positive here! Where will you work from home? You should reserve a dedicated area, hopefully in a spare bedroom or someplace where you can setup and leave your computer and peripherals undisturbed.
It doesn’t matter if there’s an ironing board, a treadmill or a laundry basket next to you. As long as you have room to work efficiently.
A side note: some work from home employers will supply you with a laptop, monitor and whatever else you’ll need.
Do you have a dependable internet connection?
Setup a desk. You’re gonna need it next week! There’s no need to run out and buy a $900 desk with those fancy cubbies. As long as you have room to spread out a computer, monitor, and any other peripherals you’re fine.
Don’t laugh, but when I first went home to work I priced desks. After my sticker shock, I went to Staples and bought two nice 2-drawer wood file cabinets. Then I bought a solid wood door at Home Depot without the hole drilled in it. I stained the door to match the cabinets and with all my supplies on it, you’d never know I was working on a door. It had more room than any expensive desk for a fraction of the price.
Week Three – Starting your transition
Ok so you’re probably in one of three positions now:
• You’ve received approval at your current job to work at least part of the week at home (Congrats!).
• You’ve received a NO WAY! From your manager to your request to work at home.
• You’re home now and have no income.
If you’re transitioning to home in your current job:
This is the week to follow-up on whatever remote access requests you might have pending, like a VPN ID. And don’t forget to test that in the office. You may want to bring your laptop home before your official ‘go home’ date and do a trial login.
You’ll also want to brush up on any other new skills you might be bringing home with you.
If you’re training anyone at work to cover any hands-on stuff while you’re at home, it’s to your benefit that they’re up to speed.
How is your internet connection at home? If you need to follow-up on anything, the sooner the better.
If you’ve received a NO WAY! From your manager to your request to work from home:
Have you’ve done your homework and taken the time to formulate an effective proposal to your manager and received a big fat NO?
Then now you have a choice to make. It’s time to evaluate what’s best for you and your family. Stay where you are for now, or start applying to companies that hire work from home employees.
You may not want to work from home your entire career, but if this is a time when you need to be home, you can earn a salary working remotely. Most likely from one of the companies below.
If you’re home now and have no income:
Now is when we start to reel in a few offers! By now, we should have:
A dedicated place to work.
A reliable internet connection.
A resume that highlights our abilities as a reliable and capable worker who functions well independently.
You can easily Skype or Facetime.
Now we’ll start contacting companies that regularly hire people to work from home. The companies I’m listing below aren’t your traditional companies – they’re all known for hiring thousands of work from home employees. And there’s no fee to pay. You just contact them and apply.
So, obviously, a work from home position usually requires a lot of online and/or phone time. Some may require you to perform tasks offline and then periodically report your results or submit your work.
If you’ve never worked from home before, one thing that may seem odd initially is the amount of detail that a remote employer will collect from your work. That’s just the nature of most remote jobs.
If you’re sitting in your home 800 miles from the nearest company office, the only way they can quantify your work is by measuring it electronically. So they may measure the words you type or the minutes of talk-time or some other crazy detail.
Some of the jobs below include benefits and some don’t. For some, it depends on the number of hours you’ll be working.
Here are twenty companies you can begin contacting:
Appen is a global company that specializes in speech and search technology services. They provide detailed insight into the relevancy and accuracy of search results queries, photos, ads and more. So they hire people to work from home as social media evaluators using apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They offer short-term and full-time opportunities. The hours vary per project, and you’d answer a questionnaire to qualify for each project. Appen has been included on Forbes Magazine’s list of the top 100 Companies Offering Flexible Jobs for the last three years.
Check Appen’s available jobs.
LiveOps is primarily a call center where you’d provide support over the phone. They currently have over 20,000 people who work in various support areas, like roadside assistance, inbound or outbound sales, healthcare and others. You can work as many or as few hours as your schedule permits. You can schedule your time in blocks as small as 30 minutes, and choose times that work best for you.
The pay rate varies depending on your specific assignment but a typical arrangement might be 25 cents per minute of talk time, which translates to $15 per hour. Some other arrangements may pay a base rate in addition to a bonus. Some programs pay entirely on commission
Check LiveOps available jobs.
Based in Bloomington, Minnesota, Edmentum provides educational solutions to more than 8,000 school districts throughout the country. Edmentum’s product line includes courseware, test preparation, assessments, reading programs, college and career preparation, and virtual academies.
Some of the remote opportunities at Edmentum would be in virtual teaching in a variety of subject areas, a customer relationship manager where you’d have a territory and work to ensure customer needs are met, new product development and account management to name a few.
Check Edmentum’s available jobs.
TeleTech hires people to work from home using their proprietary technology to support customers with a variety of customer service and technical needs. This could include helping customers over the phone, via chat, or on social media. TeleTech hires people from anywhere in the country
Check Teletech’s available jobs.
Working Solutions was created in 1996 to provide legitimate work-at-home opportunities. They partner with clients from different industries, providing them with educated and experienced work from home contractors. To apply at Working Solutions, you’d fill out an application online, then you’d be contacted to schedule an online basic skills assessment. Once you pass the assessment, you’d be able to choose a project to work on.
Each program is paid differently. Some pay by the record or entry, while others pay by talk minutes, sales, or a combination of both. Some agents may be paid a set amount per program. Agents have earned the equivalent of anywhere from $9 an hour to $30 an hour, depending on the program. Your income will vary, based on the work you are doing, your performance, how much work is available, and how much time you put in.
Check Working Solutions available jobs.
Kelly Services has been around since 1946 and they’re one of the most well-known agencies to supply contractors and temporary workers to businesses. They offer businesses a variety of outsourcing and consulting services as well as staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire, and direct hire basis. They hire people from a variety of backgrounds and experience so the pay rate varies depending on the type of job.
Check Kelly Services available jobs.
Sutherland has 38,000 employees in 19 countries. They’re currently hiring people to work from home on the phone supporting residential customers with technical assistance and responding to general inquiries. Some of the things you may be involved with are dispatching a visit to a residential customer, checking a database for information, answering billing inquiries or placing follow-up calls.
Sutherland sends you the equipment you’d need to work and it if breaks, they overnight replacements. They’re known to have good tech support staff available for software related issues. They would train you for whatever position you’re hired for.
Check Sutherland’s available jobs.
UHG has been around since 1997 and has over 10,000 employees. They are a Fortune 6 group whose stated mission is “to help people live healthier lives while improving the health system and expanding access to quality care.” They hire for a variety of work at home positions like sales, marketing, technology, and healthcare.
Check United Health Group’s available jobs.
Hilton is one of the most recognizable names in the hospitality industry. Current employees have noted that Hilton has good family benefits, especially maternity leave and that they’re really ahead of its competitors with technology. A lot of Hilton’s work from home positions are in the reservations and customer support areas. They offer training, benefits and describe their work from home positions as “stable year round, not seasonal”.
Check Hilton’s available jobs.
Cactus is a leading global provider of scientific and medical communication services to researchers, authors, scholarly journals, publishers, academic societies, and pharmaceutical and device companies. They offer editing, publication support, medical writing, translation, and transcription to help businesses with their communications. Most of the work from home positions with Cactus would fit someone who may have some experience in the health or scientific field and wants to work from home. Former employees have said that Cactus is very flexible and sensitive to the fact that you may be doing this in your spare time.
Check Cactus Global’s available jobs.
Kaplan specializes in training and development programs. They offer higher education programs online and at campuses, test preparation, and professional training. The opportunities for working remotely with Kaplan would be things like a content developer, an instructor, a technical editor, classroom operations coordinator, an academic consultant, a test question developer, client services manager or a researcher, among others.
Employees have said that Kaplan offers training and development programs for their employees, they have flexible scheduling, and their pay is fair. Everything needed for training is paid for unlike other tutoring and teaching companies. Many people in upper management are former teachers, so if you have a teaching background there’s definitely room for growth at Kaplan.
To see Kaplan’s work from home opportunities, just click the filter for “Remote/Nationwide”.
Check Kaplan’s available jobs.
Who hasn’t heard of Dell? We all know Dell as one of the leading providers of desktops and laptops. But they’re really a family of businesses that provide the essential infrastructure for organizations. They provide hardware, software, maintenance, consulting among other services.
The remote jobs at Dell would be in areas like technical support, sales, product managers, training, and others.
Check Dell’s available jobs.
Chances are, you’ve used a software product produced by Intuit. They’re one of the leading developers of financial software that helps users take charge of their money. Employees at Intuit have said that there are lots of opportunities to learn and grow here, and they stress innovation in all areas of the company, not just in the products they sell.
Check Intuit’s available jobs.
VIP Desk Connect has been around since 1997 and they provide outsourced customer service 24/7. So these opportunities would primarily be working from home probably wearing a headset and answering customer calls.
One caveat: In order to hire people, a company must be licensed in the state that they’re hiring. Currently, VIP is licensed to hire in these 15 states: AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, IL, IN, MD, NJ, NV, NY, OH, TX, UT, and VA.
When you apply, you’ll be given a questionnaire which will match you with the opportunities they have available.
Are you into digital media and photography? If so, Shutterstock could be a great place to work. They’re one of the largest suppliers of royalty-free photos, music, videos, and illustrations. They serve media organizations, business, creative professionals, and marketing agencies around the world. Some of the work from home jobs they offer are image reviewer, metadata editor (editing the descriptions for sorting and categorizing), picture editor, social media manager, among others.
Direct Interactions was founded in 2005 and they work with home-based agents to deliver customer support solutions. They’re based in Seattle, Washington, and they provide their clients (businesses) with sales and service support. Most of the opportunities to work at home for Direct Interactions would be as customer services reps.
Check Direct Interaction’s available jobs.
If you’ve signed up for a 5K or other running event in the last several years, there’s a good chance that it was done through Active Network. They’re an online media company that strives to make it easier for community organizations and individuals to participate in activities and events. Founded in 1998 as a registration website for endurance races, Active has since grown to include clients in golf, education, recreation, and government, as well as faith-based organizations, sports leagues, and call centers. They handle things like the processing of your signup, registration, results, and memberships. A lot of their work from home jobs would be supporting customers via phone. You’d be answering questions, handling reservation requests, and troubleshooting issues. Active supports alternative schedules and part-time work.
Check Active Network’s available jobs.
Established way back in 1948, Robert Half is a global professional staffing and consulting firm. They were one of the first and are the largest specialized recruitment service. Robert Half provides businesses with staffing and consulting from their more than 400 locations. They’ve been listed on the “World’s Most Admired Companies” by Fortune magazine as well as to the “Best Places to Work” list in the San Francisco Bay Area. One tip I’d recommend with Robert Half – since they’re so large and have so many offices spread throughout the country, see if there’s an office near you. You may want to actually get in front of them and personally meet someone to make an impression.
Check Robert Half’s available jobs.
Maritz Research was established in 1973. They provide marketing research services to their clients and they specialize in areas like automotive, hospitality, information technology, restaurants, retail, financial services, and telecommunications. So, in order to provide that research to their customers, they need people to reach out and conduct telephone interviews and enter those results into a database. They provide whatever training you’d need.
Check Maritz CX available jobs.
Sitel is a subsidiary of Groupe Acticall and they’re one of the larger participants in the outsourcing industry. They serve many well-known businesses including many Fortune 500 companies. Sitel is present in nearly 150 sites across 70 countries. Sitel operates an established Work@Home program that offers employees medical coverage, ample career advancement opportunities, paid time off, and a world-class virtual team. A lot of their work from home jobs would be in telephone customer service for various businesses. Depending on your skillset and experience, you could work in a variety of positions at Sitel.
Check Sitel’s available jobs.
Week Four – Getting to Work!
If you’re in the process of transitioning at least part of your current job home:
The only thing in your way now may be the security you need to log in remotely, and the ok from your manager to go.
If you’ll be bringing a monitor, a laptop, and other peripherals home, you may want to check with your security area. Tell them ahead of time that you’ll be carrying these things out and see if you’ll need a property pass signed by anyone.
Once you get home, make sure you can login ok so your first day goes great. Also, for the first few weeks at least, check in with your manager several times a day just to make them aware that you’re being just as productive and you’re just as available at home.
If you’re home now with no income:
All of the companies above regularly hire people to work at home. It’s not something they’re getting their feet wet with. So once you start contacting them you’ll get an even better feel for what remote employers are looking for.
You may not earn a top-tier salary working from home unless you have a specialized skill. For instance, my sister does medical coding and was able to transition that to a comfortable work at home gig. But you should be able to earn at least a few hundred dollars per week working for any of these companies. And that can make all the difference in the world if you’re struggling.
There are times in life when we need to earn a certain level of income but we also need to be home. And thankfully, so many businesses have recognized that and now offer work from home options. Those that don’t are probably considering it in order to retain good employees.
One other option that you may not have considered is starting your own blog. This wouldn’t immediately start earning you several thousand dollars per month. You’d have to work at it. But the advantages are, that it’s dirt cheap to start (about $59/year) you don’t have to be a computer expert, and once you start developing it, you’d have the possibility to out-earn any work from home or office-based job. If you’ve ever considered it, check out my step by step tutorial that would walk you through getting set up in about 20 minutes.
If you’re successful gaining a job to work at home – or if you’ve hit some roadblocks along the way, let me know in the comments below.
Whatever route you take, working for someone else, or working for yourself, you can do this!