When I used to think of working from home, my thoughts were basically of being able to work in my p.j's if I wanted to, the luxury of sleeping later since I didn't have much of a commute across the room to my desk, being available to my family and still receive a pay check. How wonderful that could be and who could want more, especially when your mobility is limited due to a disability?
After working at home for the last two years I will admit that all of that is basically true, but it does come with a price and may not be as simple to achieve as it might seem. Please don't get me wrong, I totally love being able to work from home (WFH) and I feel it is well worth the small price I pay. Not having to get dressed in the morning if I don't want to, not having to commute and fight the traffic and bad weather, the extra hour or more of sleep, being able to do a few chores at home during breaks and lunches, the list is almost endless as to the benefits. However, it does take a lot of self-discipline, organization, perseverance and patience.
I would like to make it clear that, I by no means consider myself an expert on this subject but would simply like to share my experiences and hopefully help you avoid some of the pitfalls that I encountered.
With all of that said, following is a short history of my experience starting on my mission of working from home.
After finding myself partially disabled in 1995 due to a traumatic accident that robbed me of my left leg, I worked a few different jobs for the next several years until it became too difficult for me to continue. I decided that I needed to work from home.
I began my quest by searching the internet for any and all information related to working from home. I joined several WFH forums and registered at WFH job board websites. I quizzed every person that already worked from home for whatever tips, ideas and tricks that they could give me. In my "spare" time I also enrolled in some computer classes online through my local community college to brush up on my skills and also hopefully learn some new ones such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher. These classes were affordable and also offered a certificate of completion.
Soon, it was apparent that like obtaining any employment, it was not only important to have the skills and knowledge necessary for doing that job but also the experience of working from home doing that job. So now getting that experience was my new short term goal.
As I perused one of the WFH job boards etc., I finally stumbled across a job opportunity for a moderator for that very website. I applied and was immediately hired. The job was simple and the pay was meager, but it offered the ability to add the much needed WFH experience to my resume.
For the next six months I faithfully "moderated" and investigated new leads for WFH employment. It soon also became clear to me, that just like in the "real world" of employment, it is usually necessary to start at the bottom and work your way up. The majority of job opportunities were in the customer service arena and/or sales.
There was no way, I knew, that I would ever last doing anything remotely related to sales and customer service work was even a bit out of my "area of expertise". However, at the bottom I was and my new mission at that time became to obtain that elusive WFH job and work my way up from there.
With my minimum of 6 months of WFH experience and reference, I then applied for a customer service position with U-Haul. After many interviews and testing I was finally hired to answer incoming calls from potential customers requesting information regarding the rental of U-Haul trucks, equipment and services all over the United States. The pay wasn't great but it was more than minimum wage in my state.
There was software to download, online "virtual" training classes to complete and several required equipment updates to obtain. These equipment updates included having land line phone service installed, buying a corded telephone equipped with a 2.5 mm jack for use with a corded headset.
In addition, my internet speed was tested and certain download and upload speeds were required and only cable or "wired" internet service was allowed.
My entire career with U-Haul lasted approximately one week after training. I found that not only was the training that I received inferior in order for me to perform the job but my PC was not equipped properly with the necessary RAM etc. to handle the software required.
I discovered during that week also that there was a need for me to prepare myself further to this "WFH" career. I not only would have to become disciplined to motivate myself mentally for my work day but also some "training" it seemed would be in order for myself, my family and my friends.
I would have to overcome the need in myself to always be available to my family especially. In order to successfully WFH there could not be any interruptions such as questions regarding where an item was located, what there was to eat, etc. during the hours that I was working. Just like "real life" those things would need to be taken care of during designated break times, lunches and after work. I also had to condition myself to not see or think about all of the things around me that I needed to get done, or I would like to do such as, feeding the dogs, letting them out, answering my home phone or even the doorbell. It was imperative to work in a separate room/area with a door that locked preferably and was as sound proof as possible. Just one bark from the dog that could be heard over the phone could mean the end to my job.
So the quest for money to upgrade to a new computer was initiated and finally completed within the next year, family and friends were notified and understanding (for the most part) of the need for limits in regard to my attention, the dogs were delegated to a part of the house as far away from my "office" as possible and a hopefully workable schedule was made for household chores and responsibilities. I personally however am still working on my control issues and the compelling need that I seem to have to be involved in every aspect of what happens in my home, even while working. I also feel guilty at times when I am not able to stop work and give my family the attention or whatever is needed at the time. I am getting better at this I believe, but it will obviously be a continuing struggle for me.
Eventually I found a company that specifically hires people with disabilities. Certain criteria does need to be met however, but nothing very complicated. The ticket to work program for instance, through the Social Security Administration or by working with a State Vocation Rehabilitation counselor are the two main ways to be eligible for hire. You must also be able to attend certain classes and complete fairly simple tests. Online/virtual training is provided for the jobs that they offer however.
If you are interested in working from home and would like to make a reasonable income for a legitimate company, I do suggest that you prepare yourself as much as possible. Things such as updating your computer and office skills (typing etc.), not to mention spelling and grammar skills and simply preparing a new resume or updating the one that you have with more of a focus on WFH jobs.
Since working from home at first usually involves some type of customer service/phone work, it cannot hurt to invest in that corded telephone and headset and at least install more RAM in your PC if needed. Be prepared to also invest a little time in these lower paying and less interesting jobs online in order to gain that necessary WFH experience.
The need for preparation, self-discipline and organization have all been discussed here somewhat, yet a couple of the most important things needed on the quest to work from home has not. That is the need for perseverance and patience.
In order to achieve what you are looking for in regard to working from home or any job for that matter I believe, is the ability to not take rejection personally when being turned down for a job. Taking that experience and learning from it is imperative. I recommend asking and finding out if possible what it was that made that employer choose someone else over you. Ask questions such as, what would you recommend that I do, learn, or change in order to make myself more appealing to other employers? The answers you receive may just not only surprise you but make a big difference in getting hired for the next job. Then persevere and continue to better yourself in any way possible, be patient in the process and continue to apply for any employment opportunities you are qualified for.
Even though I am satisfied for the time being with my current job working from home, I am continuing my education (also online) and working toward finally obtaining that elusive college degree I put on hold for over 30 years. My plans for the future now include being able to work again in the healthcare field with a better paying job but doing it from home without all of the physical demands that working from someone else's office requires.