12 Reasons Why Your Next Gig Should Be Work-at-Home

If you?re planning a career change, moving into retirement, or just looking for additional income, your next gig should be work-at-home. To a lot of people that sounds like an impossible dream. But for millions of people, it?s a reality. I know, because I?ve been doing it for nearly 20 years.

I spent eight years as a home-based mortgage originator (that?s a mortgage salesperson), and have been a blogger and freelance blogger for the past 10+ years. Not being an organizational person in any sense, work-at-home is infinitely better for me than any location-based job I?ve ever held. (No, that’s not me in the photo below, but he sure looks content doesn’t he? This could be you!)

Why Your Next Gig Should Be Work-at-Home
Why Your Next Gig Should Be Work-at-Home

But you probably don?t need me to tell you that. My guess is that most people know it to be true, even if they?ve never been in a work-at-home situation. Below are 12 reasons why you should.

Before we get onto the list of reasons, be aware that use of the word ?gig? is intentional. Even in the 21st century, when the technology exists to home base probably the majority of workers, employers continue to resist the arrangement. For that reason, work-at-home is more likely to be some kind of gig ? including self-employment ? than a traditional job. But since work-at-home is still a relatively out-of-the-box arrangement, that shouldn?t come as a surprise.

For now, don?t worry about what that gig might be. I?m going to cover that in the next article. But for now, let?s look at these 12 reasons and use them to establish (or confirm) the reasons why work-at-home is desirable.

Think of it as a dose of motivation. After all, once you determine the why of any situation, the how becomes easier to manage.

Why Your Next Gig Should Be Work-at-Home

1. Portability

When you work at an employer?s facility, you become location dependent. That means you need to live within a reasonable commuting distance. But with work-at-home, location becomes irrelevant. Free from the constraints of an office or shop, you can work virtually anywhere you want.

There are two major advantages to this:

  1. You?re no longer required to live in the same area your employer is located, freeing you to live wherever you want.
  2. Work-at-home opens more income opportunities.

#2 is the more important of the two. If you?re an on-site worker, there may be no more than 30 or 40 potential employers within a reasonable commute of where you live. But if you work-at-home ? and geography is no longer a limiting factor ? the number of potential employers will swell to hundreds and maybe even thousands.

When me and my family moved from Georgia to New Hampshire we didn?t have to worry about an income. My blogging/freelance blogging craft came with us.

2. Creating a Workspace that Better Fits Your Personality and Preferences

I?ve spent more than a fair amount of time working in offices and cubicles. They?re all the same ? cold, identical, and very corporate. There are even some workplaces that won?t allow you certain personal touches, like pictures, artwork, or sound systems. They also come complete with a long list of distractions. Despite how common the arrangement is, it?s not very conducive to either productivity or worker satisfaction.

With a work-at-home gig you can customize your workspace. You can appoint it anyway you want, play your music any time and as loud as you want, hang family pictures on the wall, and have your dog sit at your feet all day long (like the guy in the photo above). It?s occupational Nirvana!

3. No Workplace Conflicts

Even the best employment situations come with conflict. Even if it?s only occasional, it?s highly unsettling. But it’s also unavoidable when you?re working in close quarters with other people, and when workloads need to be distributed. Think about how frequently you?re asked to carry the load for less productive coworkers. That?s a recipe for conflicts with coworkers and bosses.

With work-at-home, there are no coworkers. That means there?s no one to be in conflict with. Having worked in offices for years, and at home for many more, I can certify that work-at-home is easily the more tranquil environment.

4. Work on Your Own Schedule

In my opinion, the modern workplace is a throwback to the plantation economy. Everything must be carefully controlled by the overseers. That includes the schedule. It doesn?t matter if that schedule is a good fit for your life, you?ll have to work whatever hours your employer requires.

With work-at-home, you can create your own schedule.

This is more than just a luxury or a convenience. An employer may require you to work from 8 o?clock in the morning to 5 o?clock in the afternoon. Most people accept this as part of the price to be paid for a job. They may even see ?regular hours? as a benefit.

But what if you do your best work at night? Or what if you?re not a morning person? Or what if you?re someone like me, who finds different times of the day more productive from one day to the next?

With work-at-home, you can make the schedule decision. Do you think that will improve the quality of your life, as well as you?re work performance?

5. You?ll Be at Home to Care for Children or an Ailing Family Member

Millions of parents and caregivers have to make the agonizing choice between earning a living and taking care of children or ailing family members. Traditional employment is set up to completely segregate income earning activities from your private life. It?s rare you?ll find an employer who will work with you if you?re a caregiver. And even then, it?s more likely you?ll work on a very limited schedule, which will probably mean a reduced income.

But with work-at-home, you don?t have to make that choice. You can watch over the people under your care, and still earn a decent living.

You?ll naturally have to block off time between the two. For example, you may need to have the equivalent of quiet time while working at home. The care receivers will need to understand this arrangement, since it?s critical to you?re being available at all. But even if you do arrange quiet time, at least you?ll be nearby in case an emergency arises.

There?s another benefit here as well. If you need to earn a living working at an employer?s location, you?ll probably have to pay a caregiver. With work-at-home, that expense disappears.

6. Better Work/Life Balance

I confess that I work more than 40 hours a week with work-at-home. But you know what? It doesn?t feel like 40+ hours. In fact, most of the time it feels like I?m semi-retired.

The reason is that I have control of my time. If I need to run to the bank at 10:15 in the morning, or to hook up with a friend at 2 o?clock in the afternoon, I can do it. That?s because my work-at-home schedule enables me to work around my personal life.

I also confess that I often do the laundry or start dinner before my wife gets home from her job. That flexibility makes her working life easier as well. And since I?m home, it?s not hard to mix these chores with plying my trade.

However, I will warn that you still need to create some sort of order in any work-at-home arrangement. This takes discipline and commitment. Your personal life can easily overwhelm your work when you work from home.

The flip side of that warning is exactly the opposite ? the potential is very real to let your work take over your life. Since there?s no hard schedule, you can easily work 10 or 12 hours in a day, or even longer. There are times I?ve worked past midnight. On those days, I don?t even know how many hours I?ve worked.

The point is, with work-at-home, you?ll have the freedom to blend your life and work just about any way you choose.

7. No Commute ? And All the Aggravation that Comes With It

The average American worker spends 26.9 minutes commuting each workday. I don?t know if that?s one way or both ways. But the same source says 14 million workers spend an hour or more commuting. That?s about 10% of the workforce.

Naturally, the commute will be longer if you live in a large metropolitan area with heavy traffic. But with housing prices rising rapidly, more people are commuting longer distances to be able to find affordable housing and earn a living wage to support it.

But let?s say you?re among the unfortunate 14 million who are commuting at least one hour each day. That means you?re spending five hours commuting each week. That turns 45 hours on the job (including a lunch hour) into 50 hours, or 10 hours per day. Since you sleep about eight hours a day, that leaves you with just six hours of free time. That time has to be spent getting ready for work, and taking care of all the chores that need to be done but can?t be while you?re at work.

And let?s not even get into the stress that comes from that commute.

If you?re in a work-at-home gig, none of that applies to you. Not only do you not spend the time commuting, but you also don?t have the expenses that go with it. According to the IRS, it costs about 58 cents per mile for business use of a vehicle. If you commute 15 miles to work each way, five days per week, 50 weeks per year, that comes to 7,500 miles commuting each year.

And $.58 per mile, that’s $4,350 per year spent on commuting. That?s an expense you won?t have with work-at-home.

8. Greater Flexibility to Juggle Multiple Income Sources

An increasing number of people today are juggling two or more income sources. That can be particularly hard if you have a full-time job. If your main job requires you to work more than 40 hours a week (plus commuting time), you may have limited time to develop a second income source. And some employers frown on ? or even prohibit ? ?moonlighting?.

But when you work at home, you?ll have more time to devote to a second or even third income source. The additional sources may even be related to your primary occupation, creating a favorable crossover.

Under certain circumstances, that combination can lead to an unlimited income capability. Imagine the possibilities!

9. You?ll Learn More Skills Working Independently

One of the most obvious realities about work-at-home is that you won?t have a boss or coworkers in close proximity. The good news is that you won?t have the workplace conflicts discussed in #3 above.

The bad news is that you?ll absolutely need to become more self-reliant.

That can be intimidating at first. When you work at home, nothing gets done unless you make it happen.

But an interesting and empowering transition takes place as you do. The more you learn to do on your own, the more you?ll learn you?re capable of.

One of the limitations I found in workplaces is the segregation of responsibilities. Each person functions as a link in a chain. If Sue or Bob call out sick, go on vacation, or quit, there?s no one to do that job effectively (or their workload is parceled out to an already overworked staff).

That arrangement may work well in organizations, but it definitely limits your ability to expand your skill set.

With work-at-home, because you’ll need to do any job that needs to be done, you?ll find ways and learn new skills. As you do, you’ll come to realize how capable you really are.

When I think back on everything I?ve had to learn over the years to be a self-contained, home-based worker, it?s mentally exhausting. But the reality is I?ve learned what I have over the years, and as necessity required.

It?s amazing how much you can learn, even with skills and responsibilities you?ve never had in the past. But as your capabilities grow, so does your effectiveness. And as discussed in the previous section, the potential for developing additional income sources also grows.

The more skills you have, the more you’ll have to offer potential clients and customers.

10. A Better Fit for Retirees and Students

A lot of people retire even though they really can?t afford to. Burned out by the grind of working at a job for decades, the idea of working even one more year is repulsive.

But if you get a work-at-home gig, you?ll be able to generate that much-needed income source without the grind that comes with a disagreeable job. It could mean the difference between living comfortably and living just above the poverty line.

It?s just my opinion, but I think semi-retirement is going to become the new normal in the next decade or so. The rising cost of living, in combination with funding problems with Social Security and both public and private pensions is going to force more people into the arrangement.

If you have to work in some capacity in retirement, it helps if you can do it on your own terms.

Working from home won?t feel like a job, because it isn?t. You?ll be working in the comfort of your own home, with a more flexible schedule, that will fit more seamlessly with retirement.

The situation is similar with students. If you?re a full-time student, you already have a full-time job equivalent. A part-time job can create confusion and exhaustion. But if instead of working a part-time job you could get a work-at-home gig, you?ll at least have more control over your time and your activities.

There?s an important side benefit to this for students. The work-at-home gig you create while you?re in school could turn into a full-time business after you graduate. Ask anyone who?s done any kind of computer or Internet related gig work while they were in college. If nothing else, you could be creating a side business that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

11. And for Some People with Disabilities

Millions of people have some sort of health condition that impairs their ability to earn a living. This is especially problematic for someone with a condition that doesn?t quite rise to the level of qualifying them for permanent disability benefits. You still need to earn a living, but your options are limited.

A work-at-home gig could be the perfect solution. The most obvious benefit is that there will be no need to leave your home. And since you won?t need to work on someone else?s turf, your workspace and your home can be customized to whatever your condition is.

And since possible work-at-home gigs are virtually endless, you can choose one that will work within whatever your limitations may be. That can include limiting or eliminating any physical activities that will be difficult or impossible for you to perform.

12. You Don?t Want ? or Can?t Afford ? to Drive

I?ve written on the benefits of going car-less. There are plenty of reasons for this.

According to AAA, the average cost to own one vehicle is a whopping $9,282 for 2019.

The cost of car ownership has gradually risen to become one of the biggest expenses in the average household budget. But since owning a vehicle is absolutely necessary to earn a living, we pay the price and go on with our lives.

But what if you can?t pay the price? Or what if you live in an urban area where owning a car is undesirable?

In either case, a work-at-home arrangement can eliminate the need to own a car ? and the costs that go with it. And with ride sharing services available today, it?s more possible to go without a car than it has been for most of the past 100 years.

Work-at-home is also a good option to have if you lose your driver?s license for any reason. You can continue earning a living, and use ride sharing until you get your license back. I?m just sayin?.

Final Thoughts on Reasons Why Your Next Gig Should be Work-at-Home

So, there you have it ? 12 reasons why your next gig should be work-at-home. Those are just my reasons, and I?ll bet you can come up with a few more.

Please check out my follow up post How to Create Work-at-Home Gigs to Free You From Your Cubicle Forever to help you create the work-at-home gig of your choice. They’re out there, if you know where to look or what to do.

( Photo by HighTechDad )

8 Responses to 12 Reasons Why Your Next Gig Should Be Work-at-Home

  1. Do you have a list of cons/risks? I do know that when corporate is looking to cut staff, unfortunately, those that work at home are often the first to be cut. Even if they are more productive than those who commute to the corporate office, somehow they are perceived as less essential (out of sight, out of mind?).
    My goal is to keep my corporate office but convert to 2 – 3 days work from home per week, then put facetime in at least 2 days a week. The benefits are a HUGE savings in commuting expenses and commuting STRESS. I want to set it up this year (I am 57); right now I get one day a week WFH as long as I cover the office 4 days a week.

  2. Not specifically for work-at-home Irene, but this article highlights the risks of a traditional job, which have grown over the years. There are risks in everything we do. You’ve pointed out (correctly) that home based workers are usually the first to go in a layoff, and that’s a big risk right there. But you have to balance risk against the benefits. I think you’re handling it well, making the transition gradual.

  3. Echoing Irene’s comments . . .

    Until I was laid off two months ago, I was working a mostly remote position through a large firm for a Federal government customer on contract. (Quite common as I live here in the Washington, DC area.) I was the only one of the team who was DC-based, and the rest were scattered on both the East and West coasts. My government counterparts, of course, were here in the DC area with me as that’s where their offices were.

    Pros of this position:

    1. No need to commute every day, though it wouldn’t have been a problem since I lived no more than 40 minutes, by subway, from the client site and my commuting costs were reimbursed as per the contract with the customer. The problem with that was that the customer had no “hot desk” options where I could decamp for the day, with both laptops (my firm’s and a government-furnished) set up to use their wifi. Unless I was in an out-of-the-way place, I could have been shooed out by nosy Federal workers at the site, who tend to be very territorial.

    2. I could work from anywhere, both at the customer site (if I was lucky to find a desk — see above), or at one of my firm’s offices, or anywhere in DC, or anywhere in the country. As long as I had decent Net access, I could answer emails, IM, and do Skype.

    Cons of this position:

    1. As with any fully remote position, there’s always the danger of “out of sight, out of mind.” You might not be considered “essential” (no one really is, though some are more needed than others) and so could get the axe when it comes time for budget and/or staff cuts. This might be despite how much work you’ve done and how needed you’ve been.

    2. The screen and all its attractions (e.g., email, IM, and Skype) don’t, and will never, replace face-to-face contact. I’m kind of old-school in that, more often than not, it’s better to be in the same room with your interlocutor — whether co-worker, boss, or customer — than it is to try to conduct business entirely online. In general, people respond better (though not necessarily favorably) to the other person when he’s there than via a voice and face on the screen.

    As for myself, as I can write and do presentations with good information and a great attention to detail, that’s not enough to overcome a detached, addled-brained, easily distracted, and disinterested person on the other end. Put another way, writing detailed emails or documents won’t make up for a lack of understanding that the other party has. Sometime, just stopping by the other party’s cubicle or desk, or going to a conference room to hash things out on a white board, works wonders for understanding and moving forward.

    3. Related to (2), it’s too easy and too tempting for the other person to hide behind the screen, and then not act on what needs to be done, or ask that you send that email again. When I worked with the Big 4 for a few years, it was all too common for people to claim that they were “too busy,” “can’t talk because I’m at the client site,” or “circulate” documents to others as an excuse for not talking, not addressing a festering problem, or mistaking mouse clicks for concerted and impactful action.

    Put another way, just as we rail against large organizations relying too much on internal processes and procedures, relying excessively on communicating solely by email, IM, and Skype aids and abets the disconnection that especially lower-on-the-totem-pole employees face. (Adding insult to injury, the only time that you’d be called into an office is to be chastised and/or fired and told you clear out your desk afterwards.) And, the disconnection helps to foster the “send me that email again,” or “I didn’t get the message” kind of rigmarole all too common with those not in the same space.

    4. Lastly, not conducting business in person means that something could be lost in translation. Neither emails nor IM convey tone of voice, facial expressions, hesitation phrases, etc., so it’s hard for someone reasonably socially aware to pick up on what’s going on with the other party. Also, you might write something clearly and succinctly, only to have it misinterpreted by the other party, which then leads to hurt feelings, anger, and the risk of that person forwarding it to someone with higher authority as retaliation for their perceived slight. You could avoid a lot of this by just being in person and talking things over.

    In short, communicating and conducting business solely via the screen engenders a degree of laziness and copping out, whereas in-person interaction means that the other person can’t hide.

  4. Not to dismiss your very valid points Tim, but I’ve seen every one of those limitations play out in on-location jobs. For example, to your point about miscommunication ? I can’t tell you how many times I experienced that even face-to-face. A common response from others would be something to the effect of “you misunderstood what I said/meant”. That doesn’t invalidate the point you’re making, but it highlights the fact that it’s all too easy for people to back off what they’ve said since there’s no paper trail. That’s the advantage with email. Each one stands on its own.

    I think a lot of the problems you’re describing are inherent to organizations. Yes, there are certain risks when you’re not physically present in the office. But there are other risks that are greater in the office. One is certainly office politics. It’s much easier for people to dislike you when they work with you in person. Not only does that lead to conflict ? as you pointed out, the territorial factor ? but everyone has biases. Some may not like you because of your race, religion, gender, politics, personal preferences, body type, height, hair and eye color, or even the way you dress.

    This is probably the result of interpersonal competition, which seems to be more acute in organizations. It may even be that organizations promote that competition. But whatever the benefits, it comes at a price to individuals.

    I completely agree that there are times and circumstances when you’re better working on location. But in my own experience, having been on both sides of that fence, I’ll take work-at-home anytime.

    I’d also like to emphasize one of the reasons why I prefer it is because it’s a more entrepreneurial work style. As I wrote in the article, when you work solo, you develop more skills. Those skills can be translated into other income generating opportunities. It’s rare that you’ll be able to develop those skills working on location. The regimentation and divisions of labor just don’t foster it.

  5. Most problems people are describing concern working at home for some sort of employer. On or off site there will always be a host of problems when working for someone else. In addition your income will always be limited by those who “hire” you. The real beauty of working at home would best be realized by being your own boss of a business you create. Many challenges and responsibilities come with the territory but so do the rewards. The tax benefits of the business are yours alone also rather than going to a boss or parent company. To a company, unless you occupy a top position, you are just a number. I would hope that you are far more than that to yourself and your family. Above all else you must get up and try something without fear of failure. It is normal to fail a number of times before success. Bounce back from the learning experience, apply what you learned and try again. Do get good professional advice concerning tax issues so you can legally take advantage of any benefits regardless of if you win or lose. Most people worry too much, just make a plan and go for it when you feel ready but always have a contingency plan. Limit fear and stress and enjoy the journey.

  6. Wow, Daniel you just said in less than 200 words what took me more than 2600! And I think you said it better at that. Most of the work-at-home problems are integral to working in any organization. That’s why I used the word “gig” and not “job”. Yes, working a job from home has advantages over being on the job everyday. But the greatest benefits are to those who can start a work-at-home business, or a gig of some sort.

    I also think that work-at-home jobs tend to be tentative. You live with the anxiety of wondering if HQ is happy with your performance, if they’ll call you back inside, of if you’ll be first to be fired in a layoff. Those are all legitimate concerns with a work-at-home job, but they’re only slightly less so if you’re on location. To be self-employed and working from home is the real pay dirt. It isn’t for everyone, certainly, but it’s a path worth taking if you commit to the idea.

    I love your comments on fear and worry. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but your comment caught me listening to a Joyce Meyer YouTube video on overcoming fear and doubt (it’s faith based because I’m a believer). Something I think to understand about fear and doubt is that it will always be there. I’ve been in the blogging space for over a decade and I still experience both. But it’s not the fact that you experience them that matters, but that you push past them.

    A good friend of mine, a very successful salesman, used to tell me that we have to find ways to motivate ourselves sometimes everyday, otherwise we will be overcome with fear and doubt, even to the point of paralysis. That’s why I regularly watch faith and motivational videos. They help to keep me “up”, during those times when my dark fears threaten me. We all have those demons floating in our heads waiting to come out, but we can’t let them influence our choices.

    Author and motivational speaker Robert Ringer once described “courage as the keys to the prison door”, and I’ve never forgotten that. Irene Kasorla said “winners go scared, but they go”. In my experience, those aren’t just cute motivational phrases. When we push past our fears there’s success on the other side. It’s a battle we have to fight throughout our lives, but it IS winnable. I’m saying that as a matter of personal experience, and not because I drank any motivational speaker’s Kool Aid. As well, some people have experienced incredible trauma and later found success. There’s too much on the side of courage to doubt its miraculous impact.

    BTW, that salesman friend was also fond of saying “you can if you think you can”, and I’ve found that to be true. If you think success is for other people and you can’t do it because of X, Y and Z, then you truly can’t. The secret is to commit yourself to overcome X, Y and Z. Nothing is impossible for the person who refuses to be stopped. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over til it’s over”, and it isn’t over until we quit. That’s not on my radar screen. Boldness has gotten me much farther than fear and doubt ever could.

  7. The big point is that work is going this way?like it or not. The next recession will vividly demonstrate that full time employees are far more expendable that either part-time corporate or (especially) contract workers. If you have the skill set, you?ll be in demand.

    My favorite line:
    ?In my opinion, the modern workplace is a throwback to the plantation economy. Everything must be carefully controlled by the overseers.?

    After 40 years in the corporate world, truer words have never been said.
    …Got to run now to swipe my badge…

  8. Hi Ian, and thanks for weighing in, because your first paragraph captures why I wrote this article and why I say so many of the things I do on this blog. There are major changes happening just below the surface of normalcy right now, but I believe the next recession is going to make it all undeniable. People don’t realize the post WW2 economy and especially the job market were unique in human history, and probably even an aberration. From where I sit we’re going back to a world of employment at will, working as many or as few hours as the employer dictates, and soon enough without benefits. We see it in the rise of both contract and gig work.

    We can either be demolished by it, or find ways to stay ahead of it. That needs to be the goal.

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