How to Find a Job That Lets You Work From Home

Some work settings are like big, happy families. Who wouldn’t want to work there? In other cases, however, the tension in the air is as thick as smog, and lots of employees these days might be thinking it would be better to work from home.

You don’t need to have a dysfunctional office to want to work from home, however. There might be pressing family responsibilities, a need for independence, distaste for the commuting grind—insert your most compelling reason here.

If an at-home job is attractive, several strategies can help you move closer to your dream job.

Are You Ready To Work From Home?

Before you invest the time and energy into seeking remote work, make sure you’re prepared.

First, be brutally honest. You must have the right temperament to work from home. You must be focused, independent and comfortable being alone.

Next, do you have an appropriate space to work that’s quiet and free from distractions (no Netflix connection!)?

If you have young children, who’s going to tend to them? You’ll get sidetracked from both work and parenting if you try to do both at once.

What’s Your Line?

If you’re ready to go virtual, certain professions offer greater possibilities for at-home work:

  • Software development lends itself to lone wolf assignments. In fact, the software company Toptal doesn’t even have offices. Everyone works from home. Other software development firms, such as Basecamp and Automattic (which runs sites like WordPress), give many assignments to telecommuting workers.
  • The design field, including graphic artists, illustrators, photographers and fashion designers, has opportunities for home-based jobs because they’re often freelance. The website 99designs is a marketplace that connects designers and employers.
  • The Internet also has opportunities for talented writers. Scripted, for example, provides writers with a variety of topics to write about, depending on their expertise. Writers must pass a test and submit a writing sample. Content Runner helps writers organize their work and check out available assignments.
  • Do you like dealing with the public? Customer service jobs aren’t located just in stores and offices. Certain companies, such as Amazon and Apple, let employees do customer support from home.

Who’s The Boss?

Some employers are quite open to the idea of remote workers—and their numbers are growing. Since 2005, home-based work has increased by 80 percent. Some companies offering remote work include:

  • Tech-related companies, such as Dell and TeleTech.
  • Health industry companies, including Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group. More than one-fifth of UnitedHealth’s employees work from home.
  • Companies you might not think of, like airlines. Over 12 percent of JetBlue’s employees are home-based. This is more common for workers who live in and around Salt Lake City, Utah.

Where Have You Been?

Another strategy is heading directly for websites that cater to at-home workers. For example:

  • Techies have another opportunity at Working Nomads.
  • SkipTheDrive has a wide range of telecommuting possibilities, from account management to data entry to lawyers to teachers. Similar sites are Remote OK and Jobspresso, which allows job-seekers to post resumes. Techies are welcome at these sites, too.

Do You Feel Lucky?

Maybe your current workplace is open to the idea of you working from home, and you don’t even know it. Present a well-prepared plan to your boss.

Even if the answer is no, you’re no worse off than if you never tried—and if the answer is yes, you’ve hit a homerun!

As you think through your proposal, remember the most important factor (at least for your boss): This change should benefit the business. It must do more than maintain the status quo.  Otherwise, why rock the boat?

How will working at home positively impact productivity, sick leave, overhead costs and hours on task? Take a look at the following:

  • Analyze whether your current position is appropriate for this change. Are your responsibilities something you can primarily do alone? If you spend a lot of time in meetings, telecommuting might be difficult. Do you need any special equipment? If so, is it suitable and available for a home office? Also, are you someone your boss trusts to work independently?
  • Consider your motivation for wanting to telecommute and think about how you’ll explain it to your boss. “I want to work in my pajamas” is both laudable and comfortable, but perhaps not convincing. Instead, try to focus on how your relocation benefits the company. Fewer distractions? Greater output? More time to spend on projects?
  • Understand that your boss might be hesitant, especially if there were negative telecommuting experiences in the past. Ask for a probationary period. Then work really hard to show how successful you are at home—really, really hard.
  • If it’s impossible to skip the occasional face time, commit to coming into the office for meetings, or propose using technology to conduct virtual get-togethers.
  • At the start, don’t insist on all-or-nothing. Maybe your boss isn’t open to full-time remote work, but a day or two each week might not be a bad start. It’s still more pajama time.

Whether you work from home in your current job or you’re searching for different employment so you can, there are many options. Do a little bit of research or present a well-planned strategy to your boss. Then you can ditch the daily commute and become one of the increasing numbers of people who enjoy the flexibility of telecommuting.

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.