How to work from home as an employee
Perhaps you are happy in your current job. Or you’ve just put a lot of work and effort into your career. Maybe you have an outstanding salary and benefits. Or you just don’t want to strike out on your own with a business. Maybe you’d like your own business, but want a transitional work from home job to help pay the bills while you get it going.
Regardless of your current situation, you would like to spend less time commuting. You want to have more quiet, focused time working without the distractions in the office. Maybe you’d also like some flexibility with hours and work location. These are some reasons that you might want to work from home as an employee. I worked in corporate IT departments and companies for over a decade as a programmer, business analyst, and project manager. And I often was able to work from home part-time or full-time. Below are ways I’ve found to work from home as an employee.
Negotiate to work from home in your current job
It could be an option for you to work from home as an employee if you have a job where you can do your work with just a computer and the internet. Note that this won’t work if you have a job that requires you to physically be somewhere, such as a receptionist position.
You’ll want to start by seeing if there is an HR policy about working from home. A lot of companies have these today. Ones that I’ve read often said it was possible, but up to your manager. Some only require an informal agreement with your manager, others want actual paperwork signed off and submitted to HR.
There are also different levels of working from home that may be an option.
Occasional work from home
I’ve worked at many places that allowed work from home as an employee, but only for special circumstances. For example, if you had a doctors appointment you were allowed to work from home rather than having to take vacation time. Similarly, if you were sick and didn’t want to spread your germs to everyone in the office, but were still capable of working, you might be able to work from home instead of taking a sick day. This is a win-win for you and your employer. You get some quiet time at home to focus and no commute time. And you get to save that vacation or sick day for another time. Your employer gets a happier employee and the work for that day/week continues without interruption.
Weekly work from home
I’ve also worked at places that allowed work from home as an employee one or two days a week for everyone in the group or department. This worked because everyone had the same privileges with no conflict about favoritism and all employees had a laptop. One of these workplaces also had a policy of no-meeting-Fridays, which ended up being the day most people chose to work from home.
Full-time work from home
Last, there is full-time working from home as an employee. I worked at one company where I started working in the office full-time, but gradually shifted to full-time working from home. This was successful for several reasons. I had a good working relationship with my co-workers that was established during the initial full-time in-person work. The company culture viewed work from home as common and acceptable. And I was on a project where all of our meetings had teleconference lines and online conference screen sharing software (Webex) to accomodate employees across different states and countries.
Your employer may be reluctant to let you start doing work from home as an employee. Start slowly by suggesting that maybe you could work from home on days you have appointments to get work done. Do a trial run. Point out the benefits for them as a manager and as a company. They get a more focused employee that can get more work done without the interruptions of the office. One who is getting work done rather than taking an unplanned sick or vacation day. You may then be able to increase the number of days you work from home as they see that it works.
Find a new job in your current profession that is a full-time work from home job. Or find or a local company that is more work from home friendly.
If your current place of employment just doesn’t want to budge on allowing you to work from home as an employee, it may be time to see what else is out there.
FlexJobs.com is a great resource to look for legitimate work from home jobs, particularly if you want to find a job that lets you work from home full-time. There is a fee to use the site, but it’s worth it. The site allows you to avoid all the work from home scams out there on regular job sites. And it’s also nice because they are very focused on work from home jobs. So you don’t have to sort through as many jobs with no work from home options.
You can also search for a local job and keep an eye out on what their work from home policy is. It might also be called a flexible work policy. You can often find this information in the in the job description itself, or on the company website in the employee benefits section. It can be very vague information but might give you an idea of their policy.
It’s also a great question to ask when you get to the interview stage. I jumped around quite a lot in my career and I always asked about their work from home policy in the interviews I had. It was just one of many interview questions I had for potential employers. It is possible that it may have alienated some of them, but that’s the kind of company/manager I wouldn’t want to have worked for anyway.
Switch to a new career that is work from home friendly
It may be that you’re in a position or career where work from home isn’t possible. Or you can’t work from home as frequently as you would like to. For example, maybe part of your job requires you to be physically on-site. In this case, you may just need to look at switching careers as a way how to work from home as an employee. There are a couple ways to do this.
One, you could use the skills you already have as a base to transfer to a similar position. For example, as a 911 operator you might be able to switch fairly easily to a customer service phone representative. Or maybe you’re a nurse, and you could switch into some kind of healthcare consulting or healthcare writing position.
Two, you could just start all over again. This can be hard if you’ve already spent a lot of time developing your career. Or it can be fairly easy if you’re not that far along in your current career. It’s definitely a good option for you if you’re not happy with your current job. Or if your current career is a dead-end with regards to pay and promotion.
For both of these options, Flexjobs.com is a good place to look and see what’s out there.
And those are the ways that I’ve found during my career to work from home as an employee. You can negotiate with your current employer to work from home occasionally, on a weekly basis, or on a full-time basis. You can switch to a similar position in another company that is more flexible about working from home. Or you can change careers altogether to something work from home friendly. Any of these options give you more freedom and flexibility.
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