If there is anything that is constant, it is the way things change in human society. Every aspect of our lives has seen some form of change in recent times, and the workplace environment has probably been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, even before the pandemic went ballistic on us all, traditional working practices, such as a typical 9-to-5 physical gig at the office, have been placed on the backburner.
The work-from-home culture has taken center stage, and so in this guide, we’ll be explaining how to work from home, so you don’t get left behind. As statistics currently show, about 18 percent of the world’s current workforce works remotely on a full-time basis, and more than four million people in the United States work remotely (amounting to about 3.2% of the entire workforce).
Working remotely is a trend that shows no sign of stopping, especially with the growing popularity of virtual collaboration platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype, and Slack. Add that to the traditional email communication, and you’ll find that coming in to the office every day and being a productive employee are no longer synonymous. As a matter of fact, many jobs can be done more effectively from home, which has emerged as one of the key benefits of working from home. Other benefits of working from home, as research from Harvard Business School shows, include:
- Boosting employee productivity
- Reducing turnover
- Lowering organizational costs
There is also the fact that having an organization’s workforce distributed puts said organization in a better position to ensure operations keep running, should any disruptive events like natural disasters occur. That way, even if on-site operations grind to a halt, some work can still be completed from remote locations.
Employees, on the other hand, get to enjoy flexible hours and don’t have to face the hustle and bustle of commuting, which is a joy in itself.
How To Effectively Work From Home
Now that we’ve covered the basics, next in line are some must-know tips for working from home. Now, it doesn’t matter if your remote work only happens once a week (for freelancer arrangements) or on a full-time basis, or if it’s remote by choice or due to some health issue or uncontrollable event. One thing that must be constant is that you are prepared to be productive.
This typically involves having a dedicated workspace for official business with the necessary equipment, as well as contingencies for dealing with home distractions such as children, adorable pets, noisy neighbors, and any other potential disruptions. Provisions need to be made for the stimulation and social contact you would naturally get from being at the office. Here are the top tips to make working at home successful and productive.
Know The Rules
Just like the office has regulations to abide by, so does remote work. Are you required to keep a nine-to-five schedule, or flexible hours? Will you need tools such as Trello and Zoho Projects for project management, Slack for team chats, and teleconferencing tools like Zoom? Can you use public Wi-Fi networks? Those and many more rules need to be laid down clearly. It is essential your employer clarifies what flies and what doesn’t, as well as provides appropriate equipment, like laptops and remote login instructions (especially for two-factor authentication and passcodes). Running trials to work out any potential issues is also a good idea.
Get Your Required Internet Speed
Remote work from home will most definitely require a stable internet connection, but having any network package isn’t enough. Because you’re at home, you may need to share your connection with others, and let’s face it: Typical home connections come with some pretty average speeds already. To fix this, you can try to move closer to your router, as devices far away from them tend to draw more on the bandwidth. You can also consider making the switch to Ethernet, but this will likely require you to purchase a dongle and an Ethernet cable that connects your computer to the router.
Set up Your Designated Work Space
One of the most important tips on how to work from home is to have your own workspace at home. While that may sound like something no one ever wants to do, as it violates the very concept of a work-life balance, when it comes to remote work, it is crucial that you have a quiet, private space to do things. A great practice for home workspaces is to set them as far apart from resting areas in the home. Having a designated workspace for remote work helps you maintain focus and can boost your productivity. It also helps you step away from work when you’re done, because the other areas of your home won’t remind you of it.
Try To Minimize Distractions
If you are constantly distracted when you work remotely from home, either by noisy neighbors or the dog that won’t stop barking, noise-canceling headphones are a great solution. And if you have kids around the house, but you can’t afford childcare, you may want to strike up an arrangement with your partner, or ask a neighbor for help. Alternatively, you may also want to adjust your working hours with your employer or manager.
Go Mobile With Apps
Make more use of mobile apps. If you will be making long-distance calls for work, you should try options that are cheaper and more convenient, like WhatsApp, Skype, and Google Hangouts.
Make Time For Social Interaction
Working from home online can be great for so many reasons, and for a lot of people, the concept of working without the distractions of an office can be paradise. However, even the biggest introvert can start to feel a little boxed-in if they have to stick to the same indoor routine for weeks on end. If you’re going to be working remotely, it is only right that you slip in a little people time every now and again. On your Google Calendar, you can mark down slots for a lunch date, or an evening out with friends. It doesn’t always have to warrant physical proximity, either: Catching up with friends via social media might do in a pinch.
Having covered work-from-home best practices, let’s look at some remote-friendly firms where you can work from home.
There are lots of companies, big and small, that offer telecommuting roles. Here’s a list of companies that are great for work-from-home arrangements.
Humana is a remote-friendly company working in health insurance, with approximately 48,000 employees working remotely and on-site. Roles offered range from sales management to physical therapy; the former requires little technical experience, and the latter needs many years of post-graduation qualification.
Dell has its headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, and is another company that is great for people seeking home-working offers. They also have flexible jobs that allow employees to have hybrid arrangements (including both office and remote work). Dell is known for great perks for employees, such as compressed workweeks and hires in many fields, from tech support to outside sales and marketing management.
Automatic Data Processing
Automatic Data Processing (ADP) is a company that offers payroll and outsourcing solutions to other companies around the globe. A lot of the job offers at ADP are in customer service and sales, and are remote jobs, meaning better chances for entry-level candidates. It also offers roles in software development, which typically require more experienced individuals.
Top Work-From-Home Fields
Working remotely from home has recently been embraced thanks to bids to reduce turnover, the need to keep overhead low and reduce costs, improved technology, and, of course, the pandemic. Here are some top fields where that applies:
Health and Medical Services
Leading companies in the healthcare sector that offer remote employment include UnitedHealth Group, Humana, and CVS Health. Job titles in this field include UM Nurse Associates, Clinical Trial Specialists, Nurse Care Managers, Nurse Consultant/Inspectors. Other roles include medical transcriptionists and coders. Here are some current remote health and medical job listings.
Computers and Information Technology (IT)
The IT sector was perhaps one of the first fields to offer jobs where you can work from home. Some job roles offer careers in high-tech sales, while others offer positions for programmers, web and software developers, web designers, and project managers. Some top employers here include Salesforce, SAP, and Red Hat.
These are just some of the major remote-friendly fields. In fact, the top 10 remote job categories growing in 2022 include: Administrative fields, accounting and finance, marketing, customer service, graphic design, human resources and recruiting, project management, Internet and eCommerce, mortgages, real estate, and writing.
Typical Jobs That You Can Work From Home
Many remote workers are self-employed and, for many organizations, it is becoming more beneficial to employ independent contractors. Remote work also lets people maintain multiple jobs, and there’s even the opportunity to outsource to subcontractors. Here are some of the most common remote positions in today’s market:
This is like being a secretary or personal assistant, but without the physical aspects.
Virtual assistants work remotely, often communicating with the employer through real-time services like chat, FaceTime, or Slack. They respond to emails, create business documents, call clients, schedule appointments, and handle social media for their clients.
Translation is one of the best jobs to work from home. Translators are highly sought-after, especially by international companies. Their job description may involve the translation of files and documents, or the transcription and translation of conference calls and conversations. The more uncommon the language, the more in demand the translator is.
Customer Service Representatives
This type of job entails taking inbound calls, helping a company’s customers with account info or orders, and occasionally outbound calling. They usually come with a strict work schedule, hourly pay, or pay-by-call.
Typical qualifications required for this job include people skills and good communication.
Data Entry and Transcription
Data entry and transcription are two different jobs. However, they are usually done together and are some of the most common jobs that can be done from home. Data entry entails reading facts and figures to a spreadsheet or data software. The data itself can be on anything from inventory, payroll data, or even part of a CRM (customer relationship management).
Transcription, on the other hand, involves turning audio files into documents. Businesses that require documentation of workshops, seminars, meetings, or conference calls are the typical employers of these contractors. Data entry and transcription require detail-oriented candidates with excellent typing skills.
Project managers are in charge of team organization, as well as the development and execution of a company’s plans and achievable goals. Project management requires at least an undergraduate degree in management; however, a master’s degree is preferred, along with certifications in project management.
How To Be More Productive At Home and Avoid the Drawbacks of Remote Work
Here’s how to be a boss at being your own boss.
Stick to Your Work Schedule
Unfortunately, most people think remote work means not working at all, but you still need to set your work schedule, stick to it and get actual work done during those hours. Your family members and friends need to understand that your work hours are your work hours, and they should not be interrupted at all.
Try Not To Become A Workaholic
It can be challenging to end a workday or keep to an eight- or four-hour schedule when you’re sleeping three feet from your home office. However, it’s essential to maintain a work-life balance, and that will only happen if you work only during working hours, pace yourself, and take breaks when you need to.
Enjoy the Savings
One of the biggest advantages of remote work is saving a bunch on commuting and work clothes, or even lunches. While remote work isn’t exactly a ticket to the billionaire club, it will make life easier in many ways.
Remote work is all the rage now, and for good reason. It is profitable, flexible, and empowering, so long as you bear the pros and cons in mind. With great power comes great responsibility, and work-at-home success depends on planning, self-discipline, and maintaining focus.