The idea of working from home is appealing to a lot of professionals, but before you jump into a search for telecommuting jobs, it’s important to understand what working from home is all about. Here are five common myths about telecommuting that just simply aren’t true.
There aren’t any real telecommuting jobs
The image of someone sitting at home in their robe and slippers, eating Bon Bons, and “working from home” is an unfortunately persistent myth. The reality is that the vast majority of telecommuting jobs are real, professional-level jobs and they have the same requirements of any office-bound job. The most common telecommuting job career categories include medical and health jobs, administrative jobs, sales jobs, customer service jobs, and computer & IT jobs. Other big (and real!) telecommuting job categories include education, accounting, and nonprofit jobs.
If you work from home, you don’t need childcare
Working parents who dream of ditching their office job to work from home often think they’ll be able to eliminate childcare altogether. But if you can’t imagine having to watch your kids while you work in a regular office, there’s simply no way you’ll magically be able to do so when you work from home. Reliable childcare, whether through babysitters, nannies, friends and family, or a daycare center, is a must for work-from-home parents.
Work from home jobs pay less than in-office jobs
While it is true that the actual salary of telecommuting jobs is typically slightly less than similar in-office jobs, the savings that telecommuters experience by working from home adds up to thousands of dollars and can wipe out the salary difference altogether. According to Salary.com, there are nine ways that working from home can save you money, and the minimum savings is usually just over $4,000. That $4,000 in savings usually more-than makes up for any loss of salary by working from home. Another perk of telecommuting? By ditching their commute, the average worker will have 260 more hours of free time every year. That’s 11 24-hour days you’ll gain by working from home!
Telecommuters always get to set their own hours and work wherever they want
Some telecommuters do have “flexible schedules” where they can set their own work hours, and some are able to work from wherever they want, but this isn’t the case for all telecommuters. For a variety of reasons, companies may require their telecommuters to work certain hours, especially in the case of jobs that require you to interact with clients. They may also like to have their whole teams working at the same time even though everyone works from different locations. If a telecommuting job requires a location, it’s most likely for one of the following location-specific reasons: legal, taxes, training, licensing, travel, and clients. These all play a major role in how employees can work and from where.
Working from home means you work alone
While it’s true that telecommuters are isolated and usually don’t work physically with other people, there are a number of ways to feel less lonely. If you’re working as an employee with a team of coworkers, you’ll probably be interacting with each other all day long via email, phone, chat, and message boards. If you’re a solo-worker or freelancer, you’ll need to work a bit harder to get your people fix, but it’s totally doable. Start your mornings with a walk around your neighborhood, trip to the local coffee shop, or by running errands to get out and about early. And if you’re feeling particularly isolated, opt for a phone call instead of sending an e-mail. Hearing someone’s voice is a fast way to get your people fix.
Keeping these myths in mind will help you to face the reality of potentially working from home, and to be a productive, happy, and satisfied telecommuter.
Sara Sutton Fell is the CEO and Founder of FlexJobs, the leading, award-winning career website for telecommuting, flexible, freelance, and part-time job listings. Sara founded FlexJobs in 2007 while she was pregnant with her first son in response to her own frustrating experience searching for flexible work that would fit with her life and growing family. Today, Sara and FlexJobs are dedicated to providing job seekers an easy-to-use, safe, scam and ad-free website for finding flexible work arrangements. Her expertise in the online job market has been quoted by CNN, MTV News, NPR’s Marketplace Money, Fortune, Mashable, the Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes.com, Working Mother, and many other sources. Having worked in the world of online job searching since 1995, Sara is an advocate for flexible workplaces and work-life balance, and she and the entire FlexJobs team telecommute from their home offices and work flexible schedules year-round. Follow Sara and FlexJobs on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.