Since the start of the global pandemic in 2020, the movement towards work-from-home jobs, which was already well underway across a number of major industries, has accelerated by leaps and bounds. A flood of brand new people, many of whom have no experience with the challenges of making a living outside of a conventional workplace, have been thrust forcefully into a brand new lifestyle.
For some, this change is exciting – a chance to try a way of making money that they’ve always dreamed about. For others, the idea of a whole new work routine might cause unease or even anxiety.
We’ve prepared this article to help smooth the transition for brand new remote workers by providing a few important details about what to expect and going over a few of the challenges many face when starting their work-from-home journey.
A Different Kind Of Job Market
Most people have a pretty good understanding of what conventional job-hunting entails, at least for their particular industry or area of specialization. But when you’re working from home, many of those tried-and-true methods of finding employment won’t be applicable anymore, and you might have to reset your thinking to an extent.
Sites like ours can help you get a feel for the kinds of jobs that are available, and over time you’ll learn the ins and outs that are applicable to your particular circumstances through experience.
But at first, it might be daunting to even figure out what jobs to apply for!
In some industries, for example, you might even find that you’re better served starting your own business as a freelancer instead of seeking conventional employment. And there are a number of niches where it makes sense to juggle multiple jobs at once in order to keep the flow of work consistent throughout the year.
Bottom line – the remote jobs market is just a completely different landscape with different rules. You’ll eventually get the hang of it, but expect to go through a period of adjustment.
You Can’t Wear All The Hats
Depending on your industry, you might find yourself stretched a little thin when working from home. There’s a reason why conventional businesses create teams of specialists, and spread tasks out so that everyone is working on the things they’re naturally good at.
As a remote employee, at least in certain fields, you might find yourself having to deal with aspects of your job that would, in an ordinary work environment, have been handled by someone else.
In some cases, that could even be a good thing (we’ll talk more about that in just a second), but there might also be times, especially when you’re asked to go way outside your comfort zone, where seeking outside assistance from someone with more experience is the better plan .
This especially applies to those whose work from home journey involves starting their own businesses. It might be possible in the early stages to manage every aspect of a small startup all by yourself, but if your business begins to really thrive, you’ll likely need some help eventually.
Learning New Things
Because of the need to be self-sufficient, as a remote worker you’ll probably find yourself scrambling to expand your knowledge horizons.
This can be fairly stressful for some people, and in the long run, outsourcing certain things is often a good idea, but gaining new skills is actually one of the best things about working from home.
Whether you continue as a remote worker forever, or if it’s just a short detour in your professional life, the things you learn along the way will make you more employable in the conventional job-market going forward, and provide new earning opportunities.
One of the best platforms for learning new skills as a remote worker is Udemy. They have inexpensive courses covering everything under the sun.
Less Socialization Can Be Stressful For Some
This is a big one for sure, and the severity of it catches some folks by surprise.
As a remote worker, you will experience a massive, sudden reduction in daily social interactions, and this can have a huge impact on your overall sense of well being. It’s the sort of thing that can kind of creep up on you.
For the first few weeks, it might not bother you at all, but after a few more weeks, and then months…
Let’s just say that you might find yourself feeling a little stir-crazy. For certain people it can even lead to severe depression.
Your personality type will be a major factor in determining how this impacts you. Some introverts might actually enjoy the solitude of remote work for the most part, but extroverts will definitely need to compensate by finding new social outlets.
Managing Your Day
When you have a normal 9-to-5 job, you often don’t have to worry that much about how to allocate time. You’ll have a manager who sets you with particular assignments, and there will often be a scheduled series of tasks you have to follow every time you go to work.
As a remote employee, suddenly you’ll be overwhelmed with freedom. In some cases, you can even set your own hours.
This is often touted as one of the best things about working from home, and we agree, but it can definitely be a mixed blessing.
When you work remotely, you become your own manager. That means there’s nobody breathing down your neck all day, telling you it's time to get busy.
It becomes very, very easy to procrastinate, and you might find that your overall productivity suffers if you don’t immediately implement some strict time-management systems to add more structure to your day.
Managing Your Attention
Most traditional workplaces are designed to encourage focus. Whether you’re sitting in an office cubicle, working as a teller at a bank, or fixing cars in a garage, the whole experience of being at work is naturally centered around the tasks that need to be performed.
Working from your house is a whole different kettle of fish. Everywhere you look, all around you, are all the fun things you like to do when you’re not working. And those things call to you, they pull you away from work, because you know there’s no one there watching to make sure you stay on task.
In order to be successful as a remote employee, you’ll need to learn to ignore all those fun things in your home environment during work hours, and keep your attention centered firmly on your job.
Don’t Forget To Rest
While avoiding distractions and managing time are important, we also have to be careful about keeping a healthy balance of relaxation and play in our lives. And that can be particularly hard to do for some people when they work remotely, especially folks who’re highly driven.
When your job is outside the home, it’s much easier to maintain a healthy separation between working and playing. People instinctively switch between work-mode and rest-mode when they travel back and forth between the workplace and their personal dwelling.
When you work remotely, no such separation exists. For some, that means they have a hard time staying productive. For others, it means all they can think about is work, and they have a hard time taking a break.
How this affects you will depend on your personality and circumstances, but keep it in mind if you want to avoid a nasty case of mental burnout.
Set Up A Good Work Environment
One of the best ways to keep yourself on track and mentally separate work-time from play-time is to always do your job-related tasks in a particular part of your house. For most people, this means setting up a nice, comfortable home office. It should be in a quiet area if possible, with a good chair that supports your back.
Make sure to let everyone in your family know that, when you’re in your office, it means you’re probably working, and they should avoid any unnecessary interruptions.
We understand that living space limitations might make this particular step difficult for some. But do the best you can with what you have.
Even setting up a desk in the corner of your living room, and establishing that spot as a designated work area can help a lot with the mental challenges of keeping yourself on task.
Expect The Unexpected
A lot of companies hiring in the work from home sphere are either startups or relatively new firms without much of a track record. If you work for one of those companies, and you might be forced to depending on your field, you can’t necessarily count on the job to stick around forever. You need to be ready, at the drop of a hat, to pivot and change your plans.
In some niches, there can also be a lot of seasonal volatility. During certain months business will be booming. Then the season changes, and everything suddenly grinds to a halt.
When you start looking for remote jobs, you’ll quickly find that many employers don’t guarantee a weekly salary or provide any promise of a specific number of hours. When work’s available, you’ll make money. When it isn’t you won’t.
One possible solution for this problem is to juggle multiple jobs in your particular niche. For example, some content writers set up accounts with several different freelance marketplaces and switch between them to keep money flowing in consistently.
Watch Out For Bad Actors
The opportunities in the remote work sphere are better right now than they’ve ever been. Things have definitely come a long way in the years since we started running this site.
Unfortunately however, there are still quite a few work from home horror stories out there, and plenty of areas where things could be much better.
Many companies, for example, pay absolute rock bottom wages to remote workers and ask them to put up with things they’d never expect in-house staff to tolerate. Others try to scam workers in various ways to avoid paying them what they’re owed.
Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed can be helpful in determining whether or not a company deals fairly with their workers, but sometimes, especially with a newer startup, you won’t be able to find much information anywhere on the web, and you might be forced to go in blind.
The best advice we can give is to do your research to the best of your ability and keep your eyes open for scams. When you get ready to start applying for jobs, compare all the companies offering work in your niche, read reviews on sites like ours, and look around online for recent feedback from current and former employees.
Most companies won’t have a perfect track record, but it’s usually pretty easy to figure out which ones have the best reputation for treating workers decently.
We hope you found the above information useful. If you’re brand new to remote work, you might want to check out our massive list of 111 legit work from home jobs. We also have reviews and in-depth reports on hundreds of major companies who hire remote workers.
And don't forget to sign up for our weekly work at home newsletters if you haven't already. It's free, and you'll get all the new remote jobs we find sent directly to your email.
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Anna Thurman is a work at home blogger and mom of two. She has been researching and reviewing remote jobs for over 13 years. Her findings are published weekly here at Real Ways to Earn.