The Ultimate Guide to Work from Home
As time goes by, more and more people are replacing cubicles with the comfort of their own homes. What seemed like a distant dream only 20 years ago is now a reality for many workers across the world.
Whether it’s part-time, full time or just certain days of the week, employees take their work home and enjoy some of the many perks of remote work, such as increased productivity and better work-life balance.
If you still haven’t started working from home, we’ll give you a taste of what it’s about in this detailed guide. If you’re already working from home, this guide will tell you exactly what you need to do to get the most out of it. Let’s begin!
- 1 The Benefits of Remote Work
- 2 What Kind of Skills do You Need to Work from Home?
- 3 Examples of Companies Working Remotely
- 4 Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Scams
- 5 How to Create the Perfect Environment to Work from Home
- 6 The Right Personality for Working from Home?
- 7 Want to Start Working from Home?
The Benefits of Remote Work
There’s no denying it, there are numerous upsides to having a remote lifestyle. Let’s start with some of the ones for the employees.
Benefits for Employees
For some people, remote work could sound like a scary, and at the same time, as a great idea. You have the comfort of your home but at the same time have no idea how the work process would look like. That’s why it could be useful to list out some of the benefits.
Better work-life balance. The number one reason why people ditch their offices and switch to remote jobs. Work-life balance can mean a lot of things to different people, but primarily it’s having to do less work and more of the living part of the equation.
This means the freedom to build your own schedule, instead of sticking to a pre-defined nine to five. Depending on the employer, you’ll be able to create a schedule that suits your personal lifestyle, instead of sticking to arbitrary time frames imposed by the society.
Perhaps nine to five isn’t your most productive period to get work done – maybe you like working in the evenings a lot more. If you work remotely (and your employer allows it), you’ll be able to come up with working hours that suit you best. This means more time for yourself, your family, friends and loved ones.
However, not all remote jobs offer this kind of flexibility. Sometimes, you may end up working for a company in a completely different time zone from yours, and you’ll have to work crazy schedules up until the late hours of the night. However – you may actually prefer this kind of arrangement. For example, online teaching jobs have very strict schedules that need to be followed.
No commute. Have you ever wondered how much of your time every day is spent not at work, but going to and from work? The average number seems to be 26 minutes in one direction.
If your commute is a 10-minute walk from one block to another, then you’re in the lucky minority. However, for most of us, work commute means at least an hour every day lost sitting in a car, bus, train, or whichever method of transportation you have to deal with.
With remote jobs, your commute mostly consists of taking walks from one room to another. This means hours upon hours saved on traveling, which you can dedicate to yourself or whatever you prefer doing with your free time.
There’s one more thing as well. Since you’re not using any method of transportation, you’re also not emitting any carbon dioxide, and you’re doing your part in saving the world, one mile at a time.
Better health. This one doesn’t get mentioned enough, but it’s vital for anyone’s wellbeing. As you work from home (or whichever your preferred location), you have more time to tend to your health. You can cook your own meals from the comfort of your own kitchen, instead of settling for junk food or whatever the cafeteria nearby has to offer.
Since you’ll have more free time for yourself, you can use some of it to enforce a workout schedule every day. There’s an incredible amount of exercise you can do with an hour of free time, and you don’t even have to join a gym to get all the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle.
Benefits for Employers
It’s not only those who do work that are happy with working remotely. More and more companies are switching to remote and distributed models of work because there’s plenty of upsides for them as well with remote jobs. Here are some of them.
Bigger talent pool. If you’re an employer, think of a regular job ad that you put out. If the employee has to work in an office, you’re limiting yourself to applicants within walking/biking/driving distance from your company headquarters.
As a result, you only get those candidates who live nearby, as many applicants won’t even bother with a job that’s hundreds of miles away. This is an adverse situation for everyone involved – companies have to settle for workers who aren’t that great but they live nearby, and employees settle for companies where they don’t have to relocate. There is a possibility of relocation, but not everyone wants to take this big of a chance on a new job.
On the other hand, with remote jobs, there’s all the freedom in the world. You can hire a developer from Singapore, a writer from China, a marketer from Sweden, there are virtually no limits besides time zones, and even that can be adjusted to.
Essentially, you get to hire the best person for the job, no matter where they are. You are no longer limited to only those people within driving range from your office, as talent from all over the world (or continent, country, region) can apply to work for you.
Your costs are lower. If there’s one thing that gets companies on the remote train, it’s the cost effectiveness. As there’s no need for employees to come in every day, there’s virtually no need for an office either. Win-win!
If you run a distributed team, there’s no need to run an official company headquarters. Some companies such as Balsamiq prefer having an office just in case someone feels like working there (and it’s nice to have an address where you get mail), but for the most part, there’s no need for a physical establishment for your company.
This means no costs for rent, utilities, taxes, stationary, upkeep, maintenance, cleaning… The list is virtually endless. If you work from an office right now, think of how much money you spend monthly just to have that office up and running. With remote jobs, the bulk of that amount stays with the employee.
Needless to say, this is great as your bottom line improves significantly. Moreover, you can afford to pay your employees more since you’re cutting costs on the office. Coincidentally, you’ll be able to attract more applicants to your job ads.
Perhaps you do want an office for one reason or the other. Here’s the great part, you no longer have to rent space in the expensive part of the city, or even in the city where you’re located. Simply pick whatever location is the best financially and establish your headquarters there.
Note: some companies use the money saved on office space to take their teams on retreats and get-togethers. Others use it to buy home office equipment for their staff. If you’re in a position where you’re working remotely, remember that some portion of your salary should go for the space where you’re doing work, as well as your internet bill and other utilities.
More productivity. Here’s something surprising. For most companies that refuse to go remotely, one of the main reasons is the lack of oversight and the fear that their employees will be slacking off and drinking lattes at the local coffee shop instead of working.
The reality is much different. Because they can work on their own terms and within their own schedules, remote workers are more productive than those working in the office.
Some people perform at their best in the early hours of the morning, others get their best work done after midnight. It’s hard to cater to these differences in a traditional office setting, but remote jobs allow everyone to do work when they feel like they are their most productive.
Some Downsides of Working from Home
We already talked about the downsides of remote work in our previous article, so let’s get a little more specific. Working from home is different than working at a co-working space or a hub, or even a coffee shop downtown, and it brings some drawbacks.
The first one will be familiar to everyone who’s ever worked from home. Have you ever gotten a call from a family member or a friend to go run some errand for them because “you’re at home and you have the time“?
The reality is that some of the people around you may not take your work seriously as you might do, which can result in situations like these. They may be under the impression that because you are home, you have enough time to do chores, run errands and take care of non-work-related tasks.
While this is occasionally a good idea when taking a break, it’s far from the relaxing atmosphere that many imagine when working from home.
Another major problem is the distractions. If you have children at home, you don’t have to write off remote working immediately, but it will make things slightly more difficult. On top of that, there are the usual culprits – TV, internet, staring at passersby… Anything except going through that pile of emails waiting for you.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s loneliness. Those who work from coworking spaces get some form of human interaction, and even people working from cafes get to interact with someone during their work days.
On the other hand, some people working from home may not see another human being for days. As you get up, finish your work, you can get something to eat and never need to leave your home for longer periods of time. While this may sound attractive to some, in reality it presents a danger to one’s mental health and social life. It’s advisable to leave your home every day – for a walk, at least. Speaking of which…
Mental health isn’t the only thing that’s in danger. As you spend large portions of the day inside your home, you may slip up and neglect your physical health as well. It’s no secret that as a race, we are getting less physical activity as time goes by.
Add to that mix that you don’t get to walk to your job, it’s another factor that endangers your health. Many remote workers combat this by introducing regular breaks, where they either work out or leave the home for a walk or a run.
Remember how productivity goes up while working from home? Due to fewer distractions from coworkers, less commuting and more time to do your job, you can be much more productive than you would be in an office. On the flip side, you could easily overwork yourself.
In a traditional office job, you start when you clock in and end when you leave your office. When you work from home, the lines between working and resting are pretty blurred. You may clock out at 5, but you get an email at 9, someone messages you on Slack at 10 and there’s a project update waiting in your inbox.
Before you know it, you open up an email, you sit down to get some work done at 10AM and all of a sudden, an hour has gone by. Eight hours of work easily become 10, 12 and you spend most of your time awake doing work. Inevitably, you get burned out and exhausted, physically and mentally.
Finally, you may end up getting paid less in the long run. Studies have shown that remote workers take longer to get a raise compared to their office counterparts. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that managers cannot directly oversee who’s doing what and measure their efforts.
What Kind of Skills do You Need to Work from Home?
First off, you need the actual work skills to get the job done. Whether this is programming, writing, designing or accounting – finding a great job isn’t so easy nowadays, and finding a great job that works from home is even harder, so you need to pretty good at what you do.
With the obvious out of the way, there are skills that are specific to remote work that you will need to pick up as well. Those who haven’t tried it think that working from home is a walk in the park, but in reality, there are people who just can’t cope with this lifestyle.
Skill #1 – Discipline.
Quite probably the most difficult one on the list and the most important to master. Your success as a remote worker depends on treating the situation just as seriously as you would working from the office.
As you wake up, you may be tempted to just grab your laptop and work from your pajamas in bed. However, you should take time to get ready for work, even if that means moving to another room. Try to wear something that will motivate you to get work done and not put on the blanket over your head and go back to bed.
Likewise, try to be available during your office hours. If you’re working by some sort of standard hours, make sure you clock in and clock out at the same time as everyone in the office. If you’re freelance, that means even more freedom in choosing your own time to work, but it also brings about challenges of its own.
If you’re a freelancer, you have the blessing of not working 9-5 (or any other predetermined schedule) – you can pick your own time to work, according to client deadlines. You get the blessing of free time whenever you want it, but you also get the curse of doing things at the last moment – if you’re not disciplined.
Skill #2 – Communication.
There’s very few of us that can do work all on our own. Even as a writer who spends most of the day by myself behind a laptop, I still have to communicate with clients, designers, project managers and different contacts that help me with my pieces.
In an office setting, communication is pretty straightforward – if you need something immediately, you can hop by someone’s desk or office, or you can send them an email and remind them about it in a meeting.
While working from home, communication becomes one of the most important skills because you have to rely on text and video to get your point across. Tools such as Slack, Zoom and Skype have made this possible, but it’s not the same as actual office interaction.
The first part is learning how to be as clear as possible. As you’re giving instructions or communicating progress, you need to do so in a way that all of your team members can understand you.
The second part is minding how you convey your message. Since writing misses many non-verbal cues, some messages can be misinterpreted, resulting in miscommunication and even conflicts. Ensure that your messages are as clear and concise as possible.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the small talk. Just because you’re working from home, you don’t have to miss out on those watercooler moments with your coworkers. Try to engage in small talk around everyday topics to get to know your coworkers beyond what they simply do at work.
Skill #3 – Self-motivation.
When you’re working in an office, there’s usually one dominating factor for motivation – getting your work done in order to keep your job. If you don’t work (or at least seem like you’re working), your coworkers and managers will pick it up and you may end up losing your job. Besides deadlines, it’s the constant supervision that keeps you ticking.
On the other hand, who’s watching over you when you work from home? No one except yourself. This is one of many reasons why some people cannot seem to function as remote workers. Without a boss hovering over your shoulder, it’s easy to sleep in and neglect work for the day.
Set your own schedule and do your best to stick to it. If you are your own boss, it’s easy to forget yourself for missing a deadline or not doing everything you’ve set out to do for the day. Before you know it, you may end up losing your clients, who will replace you for someone more committed to their job.
Examples of Companies Working Remotely
The reason why working remotely has become a thing is because there are pioneers who made strides to get the movement where it is today. Here are some of the most notable companies around the world who get work done with remote teams of workers.
Automattic. You may have not heard of this company, but you most likely heard of their products. They have several, but the best known is WordPress, the content management system supporting the majority of websites on the internet right now. With 500 employees across the world in different time zones, they are one of the first tech companies to embrace the remote style of work.
Hubstaff. Perhaps not as well known, Hubstaff is a SaaS app used for time tracking, built for – you guessed it – remote teams. With only a dozen employees, they’re a smaller team, but look out for them in the years the come.
Zapier. When it comes to remote teams, it’s hard not to mention one of the giants. Zapier is a SaaS that allows you to connect workflows and automate tedious tasks that take up your precious time. The last time they updated their count, they had 80 employees scattered around 13 countries all over the globe. What makes Zapier special is that they document their remote lifestyle and speak about the ins and outs of working remotely.
Buffer. You cannot really mention Zapier without mentioning another pioneer of the remote working world, the social media automation tool Buffer. They also have about 80 employees across several continents and time zones. Like Zapier, they’re unique in that they document everything, from how they hire their employees to how much they pay them.
Toggl is an Estonian-based startup whose main product is a time tracking app, which aims to improve productivity in the workplace. It was initially designed as a standard work environment, but they quickly realized that there’s not enough developers in Estonia to meet their growing demands. The team currently stands at 78 people from 19 different time zones. They’re also huge proponents of remote IT jobs and speak about it regularly on their blog.
GitHub is the largest open source code repository in the world and a place where developers with different backgrounds can share their latest work. It’s also home to more than 1,000 employees, half of which work in 18 countries all over the globe.
Invision is a collaboration tool for designers used by large companies all across the globe. That’s also where their employees are located, as they’re currently sitting at more than 200 staff in 14 countries.
Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Scams
One of the reasons why there’s so many skeptics when it comes to working from home is the number of scams. Even though there are legitimate remote jobs, there is still a large percentage of fake ads with companies and individuals pretending to be someone they’re not, either to get you to work for free or send them money. Here’s how to recognize those scams.
Tip #1 – do your research. If you’re browsing a job ad with a certain company, check out their website, social media and online presence. They need to have a solid background and hopefully some reviews to take a look at before committing.
Tip #2 – browse certified job boards. Besides LinkedIn, there are remote job boards such as Anomadic that specialize in remote jobs. Companies that post job ads here are looking specifically for remote workers and it’s easier to find something suitable to work from home. Don’t trust job ads from websites don’t specialize in hiring, recruiting or working remotely.
Tip #3 – don’t give any money to start working. If someone’s asking for a fee to get you hired, there’s a big chance that they might be out to scam you. For any legitimate employer, their purpose is to find a good employee – and that doesn’t require any payments.
Tip #4 – there needs to be an interview. If you wanted to hire someone to paint your home or apartment, would you take any random person off the street to do the job? Neither would I or your potential new employer. When looking for a work from home job, the employer needs to set up an application and an interview. If someone is promising you a job if you simply click on a banner – don’t believe the promises.
How to Create the Perfect Environment to Work from Home
Just as you wouldn’t work from the lobby in your company building, you also don’t want to work anywhere from your home. In order to be at your most productive, you need a dedicated space just to do work, and here’s how to set it up.
Tip #1 – have a dedicated space.
The biggest mistake that remote workers make is doing work from their bedroom, living room, or whatever room already has a purpose and the simply putting a PC in it. In order to separate work from the rest of your day, have a place where you only do work. That way, you can have the feeling of physical separation without going to the office.
Tip #2 – remove everything unnecessary.
If you’re repurposing a room, make sure to eliminate everything that’s not related to work. Any furniture, stationary or decoration that’s not conducive to creating a work atmosphere needs to go.
Tip #3 – get the proper equipment.
Depending on your job, you may need dedicated equipment. Start with the stationary such as a desk and a chair and move on to devices such as a PC, printer, scanner, headset etc. Make sure you have everything you would if you were doing the same job in an office setting.
Tip #4 – jazz it up.
The average office isn’t all desks and chairs, so why would yours be too? Get some house plants, photos, cork boards and everything you need to make yourself more productive, without being too distractive while you work.
Tip #5 – you’re not confined to your home.
One of the perks of being able to work from home is that you don’t really have to work from there in the first place. Pick up your laptop and visit the local coworking space, coffee shop or library and see if the change of pace suits you better. You may like the buzz and the clamor a lot more than the silence of your home and it may inspire you to work better. On the other hand, this may not be possible for some positions where it’s necessary to dial on the phone during the whole day.
The Right Personality for Working from Home?
As the remote style of work is gaining popularity, there are more insights into how and why we work remotely. One of the questions that gets asked often is whether you need to have a specific personality to be successful as a remote worker.
While there is no mold for the ideal remote worker, there are some character traits that will help you do a better job while working from home.
First, remote workers tend to be introverts by nature. Seeing how the majority of the day is spent alone behind a laptop, with little to no interaction with other human beings (except video calls), extroverts have a hard time adjusting to working remotely.
Second, you need to be highly disciplined. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s no external source of pressure in remote environments other than your own self. If you cannot motivate and discipline yourself to do the best possible work you can, you may not be a good fit for working from home.
Third, you need to communicate your accomplishments well. Let’s put it this way – if you’ve done something within your office, your superior can walk by and take a look at the finished job. Moreover, they can walk by as you’re performing the task and ensure that you are putting in the work to make it happen. When you work remotely, all you can present are the results and you need to be able to sell your work, i.e. present it in such a way that you lay down what you did and how much time you invested in it.
Finally, no one is born with a personality of a remote worker. The best route to take is to try it out for yourself and see if it fits your character. For some, many perks of the remote lifestyle can’t make up for the fact that they have to be alone all their work day. For others, it’s the definition of paradise.
Want to Start Working from Home?
Finding a remote job is no easy feat. There are plenty of scams and bogus offers and very few platforms specialize in remote workers and finding jobs from home. That’s why we came up with Anomadic.
We make it easy for you to find a job where you work on what you love, wherever you want to. We bring you the jobs, you apply and use your skills to create your future.
No matter what skill set or years of experience, anyone can find a job and work from home. At Anomadic, we’re here to make it happen for you. Sign up today and start receiving new jobs to your inbox!