The Work-from-Home Choice
Think You Might Want to Work from Home?
If you know for sure that you would not like being home for extended periods of time, then working from home is probably not right for you. How do I know so much about what it takes to work from home? I know, because I work from home. Yes. After struggling to find clients as a long-time marketing and communications consultant (the state of the economy has taken a toll on outsourcing too!), for more than three and a half years, I decided to accept an offer that required me to “downsize” my financial commitments, so that I could add to my repertoire working from home as a customer service agent.
I am working from home doing a variety of things, but I want you to know that I never set out to work as a customer service agent. I am a multiple degree-holding professional with many years of work experience, but in this tough economy, after struggling to make ends meet as a consultant in my career fields of marketing communications and publishing, I launched an exhausting job search that spanned about four years. I went on countless job interviews, even landed several freelance or contractual writing or marketing consulting jobs, but so far nothing has come along representing the kind of long-term income I need to feel financially "stable."
Everyone needs that, you know. Some way to steadily provide for the basic necessities of life—food, clothing and shelter. And that is why I looked for, found, and went through the prescribed training I needed to become an at-home customer service agent. It has provided me with a way to "augment" my income, enhance my financial stability, and find more peace of mind. In addition, reconnecting with customers, on a very "grassroots" level, has allowed me to reconnect with the purpose of all my work as a marketing communications and publishing professional.
How I Got Here
Several years ago I decided to take an extended hiatus from working as a college professor, and I started working full-time in my chosen field of study and teaching—marketing communications. And even though I now have many years of successful experience as a marketing communications and publishing professional and as a consultant, these facts didn’t matter when our economy took a nosedive, and work became almost impossible to find.
Once I realized that being equipped with three decades of work experience and three college degrees didn't matter all that much anyone, I got really serious about finding not a job, but a way to earn a living. With hard-earned bachelors and master's degrees in areas of mass communications (I was a Summa Cum Laude, "A-average" graduate!) and a terminal degree in business with a specialization in marketing—a PhD, I started to believe that my credentials might actually working against me, and not for me. Companies seemed to be looking only for entry-level types (translation: those expecting entry-level salaries).
Not only was I not successful in finding steady work as a marketing communications and publishing consultant, I was also not finding a job as searched and went on one interview after another. So, needing to find a way to pay the bills, I finally had to swallow my pride and really begin to trust that God was simply leading me in a different direction. The path I thought was mine—the one leading to a great career as a consultant or to a job I could love in my chosen career field, I came to accept, wasn't the path God had for me at this time in my life.
God is Good—All The Time
Remaining prayerful, steadfast, and true to my Christian faith has been hard at times, but I had to do it, and doing that is what finally led me to a place where I just had to “let go and let God.” What does that mean? It means I had to simply follow the path that, seemingly, was where God was guiding me. As doors were slamming shut all around me, one path and one path only was offering me something that, while it was definitely not what I was looking for in terms of my career, it was a path to a steady income.
You see, in addition to supporting my preference to live indoors while eating and wearing clothing, I also needed a job to support my habit; the truest love of my life—writing novels. And that’s how I came to do what I’m doing now. On face value, it appears that I am augmenting my work as a marketing communications and publishing consultant with work as a customer-service representative, but that's not what I'm doing. What I’m really doing is whatever it takes to continue to live indoors, while working on achieving my dream, and in the process, I'm reconnecting with customers in a way that is enhancing what I have to offer my clients as marketing communications and publishing consultant.
Trusting in God has led me here, and while what I am doing would probably not be an “ideal” situation for a lot of people with my credentials, it actually works for me, for now. I thank God every day just for having a “bread-and-butter” source of income, because the economy is still slow, and millions of people still don't have a way to earn a living. So I'm continually reminding myself that doing this work:
Allows me to work at home from my own “home office,”
- It frees me up from having to spend all my time looking for a seemingly “elusive” job (which, for many of us these days is akin to looking for a unicorn)
- I'm freed from a daily commute on the highways in and around Houston, Texas
- I get a lot more time at home to pursue what I've loved doing my whole life, and that is writing fiction novels and non-fiction articles that I publish on the web.
- I'm providing a valuable service to customers while working and learning about the products and business practices of Fortune 500 companies.
Downsizing My Lifestyle
So, now you know why I’m fully qualified to write about what it takes to work from home. But what you don't know is that I had to prepare myself—spiritually, mentally, and physically for working from home.
First, through prayer and meditation on the word of God, I prepared myself spiritually and mentally for my new life. I knew I had to get in the right mindset, if this was going to work. I couldn't allow my credentials—all the years of hard work and all the money I spent on my education, to be a barrier to finding a way to enhance my financial stability.
Next, I had to get rid of some of my indebtedness, including paying off my car and a few other big bills. Let me assure you that reducing my debt has made me feel "lighter," and less burdened. It has truly been a blessing. And finally, I had to work out the logistics of my plan. I had to complete the preparations that would be necessary to make the whole thing work. In order to be able to live on what I would be able to earn from what I am doing, I had to leave my comfortable, beautiful home with 2,500+ square feet living space, and move into a much smaller apartment (in a nice, safe neighborhood, of course).
Since February of 2013, in my work-a-day-life, I’m sometimes completing work as a marketing communications and publishing consultant, and I'm also a work-at-home customer-service representative. Still, in the life I am working hard to design for myself by being at home more than I'm away from home, I’m a marketing professional who publishes her own novels and non-fiction articles (by the grace of God).
At the end of the day, when it comes to working from home happily and contentedly, there is one thing I know for sure: You must be someone who enjoys being at home. You must look forward to spending lots of quiet time alone focusing on your work, and you must not require your job to provide you with friends and a “physical world” social life. If the description I just gave sounds like you, then working from home might be just the right thing for you.
What Kinds of Work-from-Home Jobs are Available?
Although this Hub is mostly about what it takes to be suited to working from home, I've also added, for those who are truly interested, information on some of the legitimate companies that offer work-from-home opportunities. Thankfully, there are a number of alternatives these days for people who are committed to working from home. Granted, a lot of these jobs are not that easy to find (and you have to beware of those that are outright scams), but real work-from-home opportunities are out there.
The ones that are easier to get, the “low-hanging fruit,” tend to be companies/positions that don’t pay a lot, that also require you set up your own home office complete with a computer meeting certain requirements, plus you must be willing to purchase professional-quality headphones. If you're not averse to doing this, then following are several types of work-from-home positions that are not scams, that might be available to you.
Companies like Convergys, ACD Direct, ARO, Customer Care Group, and Asurion are just some of the companies offering work-at-home customer-service/telephone representative positions. For most positions with these companies, you will have to pay for a background check, and your computer system will need to meet certain requirements. Of course, you should do your due diligence and always research/check out any company claiming to offer work-from-home opportunities.
There is also a company called “Arise” that offers what I would classify as a “business opportunity,” and not a job. To work from home for Arise as a customer-service representative, you must pay for training, and there are also monthly “service fees” that you will have to pay. One thing a lot of people find “attractive” about this company is that, if you want, you can pay to incorporate your own business, and then hire customer-service reps to work for you, all from the Arise platform. If running your own customer-service business is your dream, then Arise might just be the company for you.
American Airlines allows some of their reservation agent positions to be work-from-home. Many of these positions will require you to live in a particular geographic area, so be sure to check the requirements closely if you’re interested in working for this company.
Blue Zebra is a company that offers appointment setting (B2B sales experience required) as well as virtual administrative assistant positions. And, if you’re interested in seasonal temporary work, 1-800-Flowers might be a good place to look. You can apply any time, even though the work is seasonal, but you must live in one of these states to be hired: Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, or Virginia. Positions require employees to have a cable or DSL connection, and a typing speed of at least 35 wpm.
Some of the top work-from-positions include:
- Virtual call center representative.
- Virtual assistant.
- Tech support specialist.
- Travel and/or reservations agent.
- Medical transcriptions (requires training you will have to pay for).
- Web developer/designer (requires training/education/certification).
- Online teacher/instructor (requires education/experience)
- Writer/editor (requires education/training/experience/skills).
In a Nutshell . . .
There really are legitimate work-from-home positions out there. While most people today still go to work to a brick-and-mortar, physical building—advancements in technology have rapidly changed the concept of “workplace.” Technology and market-driven trends are allowing increasing numbers of American job seekers, as well as workers from around the globe, to work from home.
Today, more than 250,000 Americans are employed in positions allowing them to “telecommute.” That means they work from home using computers and/or telephones, and are not required to “go to work,” to a physical building or place of work. What's more, more and more companies these days are allowing workers to telecommute. In fact, in some industry sectors, the growth in American work-from-home jobs is outpacing growth of similar positions in India and the Philippines. Watch the video I prepared, below, to find out more.
Some days, as someone who works from home, the biggest question on my mind is "Will I work in my pajamas today or will I get dressed?" When you work at home, it's all up to you. In a nutshell, it all comes down to this for me: I'm a writer, I work from home, and I love it. In fact, I love it so much I decided to create and add the video below to this Hub, to provide information for anyone (whether you're single, married, a wanna-be-stay-at-home mom or dad, retirees, job seekers, and so on), and I mean anyone, who believes she or he might want to try working from home.
It doesn't matter if you have a degree or not, if you're someone with lots of initials after your name and have high fa-looting credentials, or if you're just someone who wants to slow life down a bit. Working from home has something for just about anyone who believes he or she might like working from home more than having to commute to a corporate office or other place of work.
There are advantages and disadvantages to working from home, just as with anything else in life. But, if you believe working from home might be right for you, then you've definitely come to the right Hub to explore the idea. The video below provides a brief introduction to the idea of working from home, including some of the many benefits.
Considering Working from Home?
© 2013 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD