Working from home is a goal for an increasing number of people
The Coronavirus event has made it a necessity as a way to protect health and family.
Working from home is becoming more widespread.
With the Coronavirus closing down many employers, technology is helping us continue to earn a living, making it easier for us to generate a good income by working "remotely" from our homes.
While most employers have not had the option to stay open, given the requirements of "social distancing" created by the response to COVID19, many office workers have been able to retain their jobs (and their income) by working remotely from home.
Working from home, remotely, has many benefits for the employee:
For some, the primary reason (and benefit) is simply a need for independence from a "boss" and a strong desire to do the work they want, where and when they choose to do it.
For employers, the benefit is usually lower expenses since office space is usually expensive.
Not surprisingly today, we enjoy many different ways to work from home, from working "remotely" for an employer to running our own businesses.
Many employers allow their employees to work from home at least part of the time -- a few days a week, part of a day, or every day. If working from home interests you, ask other employees to learn if it is done by any part of the organization.
If you are interviewing for a job and want to work from home, ask about how many employees work from home, how many days a week (or a month) they work from home, and how they stay in touch with their manager and co-workers.
Obviously, telecommuting does not work for every job, and working in isolation from the manager and co-workers has a few hazards. Without frequent contact, the feeling of "connectedness" among employees may fade, sometimes resulting in lower job satisfaction and job performance.
Recent research has shown that connecting face-to-face via an online service like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, and many other services and apps improves the situation for all parties. Ask which form(s) of communication are used or may be used in the future.
As a freelancer, essentially you are running your own home-based business. Work from home businesses vary widely.
The work may be a service business, like consulting or coding. The work may also be a manufacturing type of business. The manufacturing can be done at home like baking, carpentry, or sewing.
Some people invent products which they pay someone else to manufacture marketing those products from their home. And, others sell products which others have designed and manufactured (like Avon or Mary Kay cosmetics).
You can also rent space and work out of an office for your business. In some locations, "coworking" or "shared workspaces" are available, used by many independent workers. A desk, office, or other work space is available for rent by month, week, day, or (sometimes) hour, depending on your needs and their rules.
If many different people will pay you to do legitimate work, you can (and probably should) set up an official entity as an "LLC" (Limited Liability Corporation") or incorporate your business (as an "Inc."). The requirements for each type of business varies widely by location, so check your local government's rules.
Your goal may be simply to avoid dependence on a single employer, or you may be looking to supplement the income you receive from your job. By 2028, half of us in the USA will be "freelancers," according to an NPR/Marist poll. This may also be called "contracting, "location independent," "remote work," or "gigs."
The way consultants work for their clients varies, but usually one of these methods dominates:
The options are too numerous to list. These businesses can range from being a marketer, a driver, a baker, a carpenter, a cook, a web developer, a writer, an accountant or bookkeeper, an attorney, a graphic designer, a hairdresser, a teacher, or an administrative assistant to MANY other options.
When you have an idea of what you want to do (hopefully, something you enjoy doing), look around to see who else is doing it -- if anyone. Identify your market (local, regional, world-wide), and then research your competition in that market.
Who seems to be most visible and successful? How do they market their services -- a website, a blog, LinkedIn, TV, or ?
If no one is doing what you have in mind, it could represent a great opportunity or a bad idea. Research to find out what is going on, and why. Maybe you have discovered a gold mine. Or, maybe not.
The smartest thing to do when you begin to run your own business is to speak with a local accountant, a local business attorney, and a local insurance agent.
You need to protect your assets (bank account, home, car, etc.) by staying compliant with the existing laws for your location. These local professionals should know the "rules of the road" for running a business where you live, and you need to comply with those rules.
You may want to do this on a part-time basis until you feel comfortable depending on it for your full-time job.
Start your career as a freelancer by reaching out to members of your network, looking for potential clients who have problems you can solve.
LinkedIn can be an excellent launching pad. Find potential allies as well as potential clients through your LinkedIn connections, and raise the visibility of your business with the contents of your Profile, your posts, and your other activities.
Nothing is perfect, naturally, even working from home. Legal requirements are usually associated with running a business.
Also, be prepared for these issues:
Whether or not you are paid on a project basis or by the hour, keep good records of what you are working on, when, and how long. Even when you don't charge by the hour, you need to understand how much time you spend on each client/project so you understand if you are earning enough money -- which work pays the best?
Don't forget to also track your business expenses like car mileage, parking fees, tolls, public transportation, and other relevant expenses, associated with your work.
Often having a bank account for your business (for the business revenue and business expenses) and a credit card you use only for business expenses (like paying membership fees for professional organizations, lunch with clients or colleagues, purchasing supplies and equipment for your business) is the best approach.
A major issue for those who work from home is that, unless you have a "permanent job" with an employer who does the tax withholding and pays for other benefits like medical insurance, you need to pay 100% of your own taxes.
No one you work for as a consultant or independent contractor will do tax "withholding" when they pay you for your work. The good news is that nothing is deducted from what you are paid. The bad news is that you are responsible for both the employer's share of your SSI taxes as well as your own.
This means that you pay both the employer's taxes on your salary (because you are your own employer) and also the employee's taxes as the recipient of the income.
Depending on what you want to do and where you live, you may need a license. This is obvious for people who drive cars for a living, but less obvious if you are a cook or a bookkeeper.
Google your location and what you want to do plus the word "regulation" to see what you find.
The Internet has made it possible for more and more of us to work from home which will, hopefully, be "a good thing" for all of us. You may work from home telecommuting for a single employer. Or, you may set up your own business, working independently from home. Even when the Coronavirus pandemic situation has passed, working from home will still be popular, probably more popular as we will hopefully have more experience doing it successfully.
If you want an employment agency to find you work, one that specializes in helping employer find short-term help, this is known as "temporary working" or "temping."
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker, and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com (and you’ll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter).
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