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Working From Home as a Choice

Former university professor of marketing and communications, Sallie is an independent publisher and marketing communications consultant.

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Think You Might Want to Work from Home?

Despite the fact that Covid-19 has caused millions of people to have no choice in the matter, and has required them to work from home, if you are still someone who is grappling with the notion of working from home permanently, even after the pandemic is over, then you might want to read this article.

If you are more of an extrovert, and your personality thrives and shines when you are able to interact, face-to-face, with different people, then you might know for sure that you would not like working from home for extended periods of time. If this sounds like you, then working from home might not be right for you. On the other hand, if you are more of an introvert, and your personality thrives and shines when you are at home working alone and only communicating with others remotely, then you might know for sure that you would love working from home, either for extended periods of time, or forever.

How do I know so much about what it takes to work from home? I know, because I work from home. Yes. After struggling to find clients as a long-time marketing and communications consultant for many years (both the pandemic and the state of the economy has taken a toll on outsourcing too!), I decided to accept an offer that required me to “downsize” my monthly financial commitments, so that I could add working from home as a customer service professional, among other hats I wear in the name of work, to my repertoire of what I am qualified to do to earn a living.

Working From Home Poll

Working From Home and Loving It

I have worked from home, which is also called working remotely, since 2009. Working from home, over the years, I have done a variety of things, including sometimes serving as a customer service agent. I am a multiple degree-holding professional with many years of work experience in areas including marketing, advertising, public relations, and publishing. And, in the academic arena, I served as both a full-time and a part-time professor teaching at major U.S. universities in most of the previously mentioned areas. So, I never set out to work from home as a customer service agent. Although I enjoy performing as a first point of contact for the customers of a variety of companies, I still never set out to do this work. But, in a tough economy, after struggling to make ends meet as a consultant in my career fields of marketing communications and publishing, I launched an exhausting job search that spanned about four years. I went on countless job interviews, even landed several freelance or contractual writing or marketing consulting jobs, but nothing ever came along representing the kind of long-term income I needed to feel financially "stable."

Everyone needs that, you know. Some way to steadily provide for the basic necessities of life—food, clothing and shelter. And that is why I looked for, found, and went through the prescribed training I needed to become an at-home customer service agent. Doing this remote work has provided me with a way to "augment" my income, to enhance my financial stability, and to find more peace of mind when it comes to meeting the daily needs of life. In addition, reconnecting with a variety of different customers, on a very "grassroots" level, has allowed me to reconnect with the purpose of all my work as a marketing communications and publishing professional, since all work is always all about keeping customers happy.

How I Got to Working From Home

Several years ago I decided to take an extended hiatus from working as a college professor, and I started working full-time in my chosen field of study and teaching—marketing communications. And even though I now have many years of successful experience as a marketing communications and publishing professional and as a consultant, these facts didn’t matter when our economy took a nosedive, and work became almost impossible to find.

Once I realized that being equipped with decades of work experience and three college degrees didn't matter all that much to anyone, I got really serious about finding not a job, but a way to earn a living. With hard-earned bachelor's and master's degrees in areas of mass communications (I was a Summa Cum Laude, "A-average" graduate!) and a terminal degree in business with a specialization in marketing—a PhD, I started to believe that my credentials might actually be working against me, and not for me. Companies seemed to be looking only for entry-level types (translation: those expecting entry-level salaries).

Not only was I not successful in finding steady work as a marketing communications and publishing consultant, I was also not finding a job as I kept searching and going on one job interview after another. So, needing to find a way to pay the bills, I finally had to swallow my pride and really begin to trust that God was simply leading me in a different direction. The path I thought was mine—the one leading to a great career as a consultant or to a job I could love in my chosen career field, I came to accept, wasn't the path God had for me at this time in my life.

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Working From Home Is the Path I Took

Remaining prayerful, steadfast, and true to my Christian faith has been hard at times, but I had to do it, and doing that is what finally led me to a place where I just had to “let go and let God.” What does that mean? It means I had to simply follow the path that, seemingly, was where God was guiding me. As doors were slamming shut all around me, one path and one path only was offering me something that, while it was definitely not what I was looking for in terms of my career, it was a path to a steady income. So, I took that path, and I have never looked back.

You see, in addition to supporting my preference to live indoors while eating and wearing clothing, I also needed a job to support my habit; the truest love of my life, which is writing novels. And that’s how I came to do what I’m doing now. Working from home to earn my living while writing one fiction novel after another, because I have to. I love dreaming up stories and writing fiction. And, when I am not writing a novel, I am writing and publishing fiction short stories (many of which are published on this website). On face value, it appears that I am augmenting my work as a marketing communications and publishing consultant with work as a customer-service representative, but that's not what I'm doing. What I’m really doing is whatever it takes to continue to live indoors while working on achieving my dream of starting my own publishing company to self publish my novels. Oh, and in the process of doing that, I'm reconnecting with customers in a way that is enhancing what I have to offer my clients as marketing communications and publishing consultant.

My first two novels (you can read them on wattpad.com, for a limited time only.)

My first two novels (you can read them on wattpad.com, for a limited time only.)

Trusting in God has led me here, and while what I am doing would probably not be an “ideal” situation for a lot of people with my credentials, it actually works for me, for now. I thank God every day just for having a “bread-and-butter” source of income, because the economy is still slow, and millions of people still don't have a way to earn a living. So I'm continually reminding myself that doing this work:

As it allows me to work at home from my own “home office,”

  • It frees me up from having to spend all my time looking for a seemingly “elusive” job (which, for many of us these days is akin to looking for a unicorn)
  • I'm providing a valuable service to customers while working and learning about the products and business practices of Fortune 500 companies.
  • I'm freed from a daily commute on the highways in and around Houston, Texas
  • I get a lot more time at home to pursue what I've loved doing my whole life, and that is writing fiction novels and short stories, and non-fiction articles that I publish on the web.
This is a photo of my four-bedroom, 2500+ sq. ft. home that I owned for seven years.

This is a photo of my four-bedroom, 2500+ sq. ft. home that I owned for seven years.

Working From Home "Downsized" My Lifestyle

So, now you know why I’m fully qualified to write about what it takes to work from home. But what you don't know is that I had to prepare myself—spiritually, mentally, and physically for working from home.

I knew I had to get in the right mindset, if this was going to work. I couldn't allow my credentials—all the years of hard work and all the money I spent on my education, to be a barrier to finding a way to enhance my financial stability. Therefore, first, through prayer and meditation on the word of God, I had to prepare myself spiritually and mentally for my new life.

Next, I had to get rid of some of my indebtedness, including paying off my car and a few other big bills. Let me assure you that reducing my debt has made me feel "lighter," and less burdened, and it has truly been a blessing. And finally, I had to work out the logistics of my plan. I had to complete the preparations that would be necessary to make the whole thing work. In order to be able to live on what I would be able to earn from what I am doing, I had to leave my comfortable, beautiful home with 2,500+ square feet living space, and move into a much smaller apartment (in a nice, safe neighborhood, of course).

This is a reasonable facsimile of the apartment complex where I now live.

This is a reasonable facsimile of the apartment complex where I now live.

Since February of 2013, in my work-a-day-life, I am sometimes completing a project as a technical editor, or as a marketing communications and publishing consultant, and--from time to time, I might also be working from home as a customer-service representative. Still, in the life I am working hard to design for myself by being at home more than I'm away from home, I am a marketing professional who publishes her own novels and non-fiction articles (by the grace of God).

At the end of the day, when it comes to working from home happily and contentedly, there is one thing I know for sure: You must be someone who enjoys being at home. You must look forward to spending lots of quiet time alone focusing on your work, and you must not require your job to provide you with friends and a “physical world” social life. If the description I just gave sounds like you, then working from home might be just the right thing for you.

What Kinds of Work-from-Home Jobs are Available?

Although this article is mostly about what it takes to be suited to working from home, I've also added, for those who are truly interested, information on some of the legitimate companies that offer work-from-home opportunities. Thankfully, there are a number of alternatives these days for people who are committed to working from home. Granted, a lot of these jobs are not that easy to find (and you have to beware of those that are outright scams), but real work-from-home opportunities are out there.

The ones that are easier to get, the “low-hanging fruit,” tend to be companies/positions that don’t pay a lot, that also require you set up your own home office complete with a computer meeting certain requirements, plus you must be willing to purchase professional-quality headphones. If you're not averse to doing this, then following are several types of work-from-home positions that are not scams, that might be available to you.

Always-Hiring Work-From-Home Employers

There are some companies that, pretty much, are always offering work-at-home customer-service/telephone representative positions. For some of these positions with these companies, you will have to pay for a background check, and your computer system will need to meet certain requirements. Of course, you should do your due diligence and always research/check out any company claiming to offer work-from-home opportunities.

There is also a company called “Arise” that offers what I would classify as a “business opportunity,” and not a job. To work from home for Arise as a customer-service representative, you must pay for training, and there are also monthly “service fees” that you will have to pay. One thing a lot of people find “attractive” about this company is that, if you want, you can pay to incorporate your own business, and then hire customer-service reps to work for you, all from the Arise platform. If running your own customer-service business is your dream, then Arise might just be the company for you.

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American Airlines allows some of their reservation agent positions to be work-from-home. Many of these positions will require you to live in a particular geographic area, so be sure to check the requirements closely if you’re interested in working for this company.

Blue Zebra is a company that offers appointment setting (B2B sales experience required) as well as virtual administrative assistant positions. And, if you’re interested in seasonal temporary work, 1-800-Flowers might be a good place to look. You can apply any time, even though the work is seasonal, but you must live in one of these states to be hired: Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Florida, New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, or Virginia. Positions require employees to have a cable or DSL connection, and a typing speed of at least 35 wpm.

Some of the top work-from-positions include:

  • Virtual call center representative.
  • Virtual assistant.
  • Tech support specialist.
  • Travel and/or reservations agent.
  • Medical transcriptions (requires training you will have to pay for).
  • Web developer/designer (requires training/education/certification).
  • Online teacher/instructor (requires education/experience)
  • Writer/editor (requires education/training/experience/skills).

Working From Home, In a Nutshell ...

There really are legitimate work-from-home positions out there. While most people today still go to work to a brick-and-mortar, physical building—advancements in technology have rapidly changed the concept of “workplace.” Technology and market-driven trends are allowing increasing numbers of American job seekers, as well as workers from around the globe, to work from home.

As of 2010, more than 9.5 Americans were employed in positions allowing them to “telecommute,” with at least 4.0 million of those working sometimes in an office. That means the majority those working from home are using computers and/or telephones, and are not required to “go to work,” to a physical building or place of work. What's more, more and more companies these days (some because of the pandemic) are allowing workers to telecommute. In fact, in some industry sectors, the growth in American work-from-home jobs is outpacing growth of similar positions in India and the Philippines.

Some days, as someone who works from home, the biggest question on my mind is "Will I work in my pajamas today or will I get dressed?" When you work at home, it's all up to you. In a nutshell, it all comes down to this for me: I'm a writer, I work from home, and I love it. In fact, I wrote this article to provide information for anyone (whether you're single, married, a wanna-be-stay-at-home mom or dad, retirees, job seekers, and so on), and I mean anyone, who believes she or he might want to try working from home.

It doesn't matter if you have a degree or not, if you're someone with lots of initials after your name and have high fa-looting credentials, or if you're just someone who wants to slow life down a bit. Working from home has something for just about anyone who believes he or she might like working from home more than having to commute to a corporate office or other place of work.

There are advantages and disadvantages to working from home, just as with anything else in life. But, if you believe working from home might be right for you, then you've definitely come to the right article to read, in order to explore the idea. The video below provides a look at what might happen to working inside an office since Covid-19 has required so many to work from home, without a choice.

Working From Home Since Covid-19

© 2013 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

Comments

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on October 19, 2020:

Thank you Vivian Joy Doctolero for your visit and your comments. So glad my article contained information to inspire you as a beginner in the work-from-home industry! Blessings!

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on September 26, 2020:

Thank you MyTechCreatives for your visit and for your comments. I am so glad you were able to become a virtual assistant working from home. The Pandemic has forced a lot of people to have to make some very tough choices when it comes to work, and I'm glad you found a way to still have your career while taking care of your daughter and your family. Congratulations, and I hope things continue to work out for you!

Sallie B Middlebrook PhD (author) from Texas, USA on June 06, 2013:

Thank you jpcmc, and you're right. The Internet is a wild and wonderful place, and it is quickly becoming not just a pathway for connection to offline jobs, it is also becoming the "commute" to work for many employees today.

SidKemp, thanks so much for the votes "up" and "interesting." I too hope this Hub will help people decide whether or not they are well suited for working from home. I bet you don't miss being a "road warrior," at least not too much. I'd still be tired from all that travel!

MsDora, always a pleasure, and thank you for those blessings and for the vote up! Yes, I believe personal experience is always the best teacher, and I hope something I've written here will help those who are considering working from home.

Jackie Lynnley, thank you for your visit and comments. You're so right, working from home represents a kind of freedom that's hard to describe. Even when you work for someone else, you feel a certain degree of "autonomy," in charge simply because you're in your own environment. It's a great feeling.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 05, 2013:

Very interesting, I must save it to come back to. I love the freedom of working from home. I had my own business for years and although I have worked for others I never liked it. Most companies have no idea who their real workers are and I wonder if they even care. Guess I just like being the boss, too, lol.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 05, 2013:

Very good article, first sharing from your own experience and then offering suggestions for work-at-home jobs. I love the Moriah plaque. Blessings going forward. Voted Up.

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on June 05, 2013:

Thanks for your story. I've been working for myself and without an office since 1993, but the first 7 years, I was a road warrior, flying all over the country at least 30 weeks (60 cities) per year. Your story will help a lot of people decide if the work at home choice is for them. Voted up and interesting.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on June 04, 2013:

The virtual world is a growing place even for job hunters. It creates jobs and opportunities not seen before.