A Guide to Working from Home: Pros and Cons, the Job Search, and Productivity Tips

Have you ever used "remote work" and "working from home" interchangeably? It is very likely that you have, as they are many times seen as the same thing. While this can be the case for many individuals, remote work and working from home can be two different scenarios.

If you are working remotely, you may work at a coworking facility, a coffee shop, or a satellite office for a larger company. Working from home can mean that you work remotely, but remote work doesn't always mean you work from home.

It is crucial to understand this difference, as working from home creates unique advantages and challenges. Being aware of the unique nature of working from home can help you decide if it is the best arrangement for your remote work set-up.

If you are currently seeking a position that allows you to work from home, you are not alone. A recent study revealed that 74 percent of workers said they would quit their current jobs to work at a company that offered remote work.

Also, as of 2017, 5.2 percent of Americans are working from home, a .2 percent jump from 2016.

Working from home can bring a variety of benefits. Your commute is non-existent, you can more easily handle household chores, and be more accessible as a caretaker to children or other loved ones. However, working from home can also come with pitfalls in the form of distractions.

Knowing the pros and cons can help you prepare to deal with each. So, before we get into the ins and outs of landing a work from home job, and hearing from those who accomplished it, we are going to explore the benefits and disadvantages of working at home.

Work from Home Benefits

There is a wide range of reasons to want to set-up a home office and get work done where you live. Here are a few reasons why working from home is a wise choice for any aspiring remote worker.

Easily Take Care of Chores

Do you have fifteen minutes to spare between projects or meetings? You can knock out a round of dishes, sweep the kitchen floor, take out the trash, or walk the dog. If you plan out what you need to accomplish ahead of time, you can tackle a few chores that would likely be pushed until the weekend.

Create Your Schedule Around Home Life

Instead of having to plan home life around work, you can instead plan work around being at home. If you are a primary caretaker for children or a loved one, working from home allows you to schedule your time around them and be present. If you know you need to get children ready for school in the morning, you can plan to head into your home office later in the day. Also, local errands are much easier to handle at home.


Since you do not have to get in a car and drive to an office, much more of your time is your own. This arrangement gives you greater flexibility to work when you are most productive. You can quickly drop into your home office or grab your laptop to begin working at any time. You don't have to drive to a coworking spot or coffee shop to get work done.

The Familiarity of Being at Home

There is something about being familiar with the area you work in. Often, office work environments can feel sterile and unfamiliar, which can impact your productivity and efficiency. At your home, you can decide how you work best whether it is on the couch with the television running in the background, in a customized office space, or at the dinner table. Working at home allows you to take advantage of how you work best.

Work-Life Balance

The days of long commutes, physical meetings, and long hours away from home are over. Working from home enables you to indulge in a work-life balance process that truly benefits yourself and your family. As mentioned above, you can quickly jump into work mode or back away to focus on yourself and your family. Switching from work to home life is as easy as leaving a room, or storing your laptop away for the night.

Pitfalls to Working from Home

While working at home has its benefits, it also brings with it some unique challenges. If you are preparing to make a switch from office work to working from home, these are the disadvantages you should begin to prepare for.

Family Distractions

At times, it can be hard for the family to understand your needs as a remote worker that works at home. From having to stop and prepare lunch for children, to dealing with inquiries from partners and even parents, working from home can bring many distractions caused by family members.

It Can Be Challenging to Stay on Task

Whether you are working part-time or full-time, it can be hard to stay on task while working from home. While it is easy to jump on a small chore here or there, you may feel inclined to want to tackle something much more involved. Those unwashed windows, stained carpets, or cluttered rooms may weigh on you as you work.

Differing Time Zones

While this can be a problem, regardless of where you work as a remote worker, it can have a unique impact on you and your family as you work at home. Imagine having to conduct a meeting, answer a call, or start on a project at midnight to coincide with someone that works on the other side of the world. You risk waking up family members and being unavailable during peak times in your home.

Work from Home Jobs Can be Hard to Come By

As mentioned above, almost 75 percent of workers would leave their current job for another company if they offered a remote work option. You are competing with individuals all over the world for work from home positions.

Many RemoteHabits interviewees found their positions through unconventional methods, so you have to be flexible and not only rely on job boards and job listings. This approach can require more intentionality and work.

Understanding the Unique Challenges of Remote Work Jobs

Remote work in itself can bring its own set of challenges. From managing isolation to getting the hang of asynchronous communication, you have to prepare for the potential pitfalls of working remotely.

You can likely walk into any office-based position and handle the basic characteristics of the work environment. On the other hand, remote work companies may have differing methods for communication, work hour requirements, and hierarchies. Each one comes with its own set of challenges for which to prepare.

How Remote Workers Have Found Work at Home Opportunities

One of the most significant challenges when it comes to working from home is finding jobs that allow you to do this. Many company leaders and managers are still uncomfortable with allowing employees to work at home, and those that are open to it may not have the company infrastructure or technology to support it.

However, many of our RemoteHabits interviewees have been successful in locating work at home jobs. Here are some tips for finding work at home positions along with input from our interviewees.

Freelance Marketplaces

Freelance marketplaces allow you to search and bid on jobs in a wide variety of sectors. While Upwork is the largest freelance marketing platform online, there are many others that freelancers and remote work employees use. A few RemoteHabits interviewees have been successful in locating remote work using these platforms.

I started by producing a few bags and accessories and sold them on Facebook to get a little money, but I only sold a few products. So, I started to look for a few freelance design jobs online and came across sites like Freelancer, PeoplePerHour, and Upwork. […] What I really liked about Upwork is that you do not have to provide the lowest bid for the client to choose you. It will mainly depend on your portfolio and the interview. – Nelvina, fashion, and graphic designer

Upwork has a simple enough system to apply for jobs, making it easy to apply for a bunch of work at once. Since I had no experience and no ratings, I figured I'd put in for a lot of different jobs, throwing the net wide in the hopes of getting one or two bites. Much to my surprise, I had multiple clients reply to me fairly quickly.– Andrew, freelance writer

Job Postings and Job Listing Sites

These will likely be the most competitive places to find work at home jobs. Much of your success will depend on your diligence, and how well you present yourself with your resume and cover letter. Showing that you have experience working from home—regardless of how small it is—will help you stand apart from other applicants.

Popular sites to find work from home jobs will be many of the places where you would look for a remote job: WeWorkRemotely, RemoteOk, FlexJobs, Jobspresso, Remote.co, RemoteHabits and many others. Again, these will be the most competitive places to find work, but they are still worth checking out.

Social Media

While it may seem far-fetched, social media can be the place where you locate your next work from home job. Platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are known to be hubs for professionals and more career-minded individuals. So, they are excellent places to search for work at home positions.

The first ever client that I took on actually came about through Twitter. A chap called Matt Goolding who runs an agency called KYO Digital was looking for someone who could write content about the publishing industry, and I was pretty much the perfect fit. I responded to his tweet, we hopped on a phone call, and he ended up becoming my first client. – Dane, freelance writer, and author

I have stumbled onto many opportunities while searching different hashtags on Twitter, joining Facebook remote work groups, and keeping an eye on LinkedIn job postings. Job boards are great, but social media can be an awesome resource in finding the next gig. – Chanell, freelance writer

If there are individuals or companies you want to work with, follow them on these networks, interact with them, and keep an eye on their social media activity. They may announce a job or a project you may be the perfect fit for.

Conduct a Specialized Job Search

Another great way to put yourself in the position to find a work at home job is to look for it specifically. For example, job boards like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and even the job listings section on LinkedIn allow you to search by specific terms. Be sure to use "work at home," "work from home," or "telecommute" in your search. This step will enable you to see jobs that include these terms in the descriptions.

Also, you may want to add a hashtag and the word "job" to these terms and search for them on Twitter. Many forward-thinking companies that embrace remote work will announce positions on Twitter and will add these hashtags to the job posting.

General networking

When it comes to finding a job, the power of networking cannot be denied. Whom you know can help you find the work at home position you are searching for. Networking can come in a variety of forms. It can be in the way of communicating your job search needs to family or friends, getting in touch with former co-workers or alumni, or even reaching out to companies you are interested in working for.

Also, while it can be in person, networking can also happen digitally, as in the case of Adam, a UX engineer.

I was approached via cold email regarding my posts on Hacker News. They saw the answers I had posted and saw the links to my GitHub/portfolio in my profile and that intrigued them. We exchanged information, and I provided my rate, and that's how I began to work with that company on a contract basis.

Michael Mason, a VFX artist, also discussed the importance of networking to his job search.

Networking is very important as well, I've helped a few people from college get some work when it was plentiful to me, and some of them have told me about jobs that are posted early to help me get a quick foot into the interview section.

You never know where your next job lead can come from. So, be open to the process of combining the methods above to put yourself in the best position to land a work from home job.

Popular Types of Work at Home Jobs

While any job with an internet connection can be done away from the office, some positions are more popular for those working from home than others. Many of these positions are ones that can be done alone—without needing a remote team—and they also require a reliable internet connection that can typically be obtained from a home-based network.

  • Call center representative
  • Sales representative
  • Customer care work – This can be in the form of a customer service representative, a customer service agent, or a customer support representative.
  • Human resources representative
  • Virtual assistant
  • Project manager
  • Data entry professional
  • Various entry-level and independent contractor positions

In addition to those mentioned above, there are a wide variety of additional positions that are popular for working from home. Feel free to check this list by Forbes for more information on other common work at home job titles. Again, many jobs can be done at home, but these are some of the most popular.

Staying Productive While Working from Home

As mentioned above, working from home can bring many challenges, especially when it comes to staying focused and productive. Below are some ways to ensure you are maximizing on your productivity once you land that work at home position.

Communicating with Team Members

Many times, when you are working with other remote teams, it is crucial to optimize your approach to communication. It will help if you make sure you have the right tools, adhere to time zones, and ensure you are being understood. Eddie, an engineering director, provided some helpful advice for how he communicates with his remote team.

Information overload. We encourage over-communication and use a variety of tools and services - like email / Slack / Basecamp / Google Docs/et cetera - to distribute it. There is a cost or burden on folks to have to find and retrieve it ("pulling"), so I also encourage folks to push that information out as much as possible.

Finding the Best Home Positions for your Lifestyle

Work at home positions are not a "one size fits all." There are some that may work well for you than others. For example, if you like flexibility in your schedule, it may not be wise to step into a position that requires you to be on-call for set times during the day.

So, be sure to find jobs that fit the lifestyle you want to have. Also, be prepared to understand how different your workday will look if you accept a part-time or full-time position. Both come with advantages and challenges.

Building a Home Office that Works

One of the excellent things about working from home is the opportunity to create your own office. You can customize your office to help you be the most productive. Jacob, a site reliability engineer, expressed how important his home office has been to his remote work routine.

I have a home office which I've gradually built out to support the various stages of my day. […] I decided to spend some extra bucks to ensure that my home office was going to be comfortable and that I was going to enjoy being in there. I ended up buying a sit-to-stand desk and a Herman Miller Embody chair, which have been worth every penny.

Creating a Flexible Schedule and Dealing with Family

Many times, these go hand-in-hand. Before you accept that job offer for a work from home job, think about how your new work schedule will impact yourself as well as your family.

Create a schedule that is flexible, and allows you to handle daily errands, do household chores, and have enough time for breaks and to interact with family. It also helps to let your family in on what you expect of them while you work.

For example, let them know when they should expect you to finish, and the times of day you will be unavailable unless it is an emergency.

Having the Right Tools

Always, be sure that you have the right tools for your work at home position. From time management apps to communication software programs, look at your ideal work from home job and make a list of the tools you should become acquainted with ahead of time.

All of our RemoteHabits interviewees have listed their favorite tools and programs. Many of them might be ones you may want to use to make your day go smoothly.

It's All About Preparation...

Again, working from home can be an excellent experience, but it helps to be prepared for all the extra benefits and challenges that can come along with it. If you are on the hunt for a work at home job, be sure to check the RemoteHabits job site to stay up-to-date on current positions.

Also, visit RemoteHabits for tips on finding your ideal remote work jobs as well as advice on handling the remote work lifestyle.

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Posted on April 13, 2019
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