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!)
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
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:
- You’re no longer required to live in the same area your employer is located, freeing you to live wherever you want.
- 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.
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.