Getting married and becoming a parent changed my viewpoint on work. No, I didn't want to spend even more time away from the house than I already was in my previous occupation. Instead, I wanted to spend more time at home. This might sound insane to some of you guys as you might picture yourself going stir crazy from the lack of human interaction beyond your spouse & children. Working from home can be very beneficial by not having to commute, be stuck working a shift, or not being your own boss.
Why Do You Want To Work From Home?
That is the question my wife asked me several months ago, when we started the whole career transition thing. At first, I was a little apprehensive to the whole idea of working entirely from home. For the past four years, I had a company car and it wasn't unusual for me to drive at least 150 miles each day. If I wasn't getting the oil changed every 5 weeks, something was wrong. As I worked on-call, I even kept a small pillow (plus food & spare clothes) in the back in case I needed to take a nap on the back seat during the middle of the night.
Just by reading the brief description above, you would think I would be the last person to consider working at home. I must admit I learned to love life behind the steering wheel, despite the objections from my waist line. When I wasn't burning up the roads, I tried to be in one location to get my computer work finished in an non-distracting atmosphere.
All I needed was a spot with an internet connection & cell phone service.
That best spot for me was the house. It was my own private office with a fridge full of food & a lovely secretary (aka my wife), without the distractions of people knocking on the door wanting to ask you for something when you are in the midst of filling out paperwork or making phone calls. Don't get me wrong, there is a time & place for public offices, but I argue there are usually more distractions than not. If you have a job that you cannot leave at the office, you want to spend as little time there as possible.
If I wanted to get something done quick, I did it from home or the car. That's the beauty of wireless internet & laptops/tablets. We have more flexibility & opportunities than ever to work anywhere in the globe.
There's a reason the tv show, 24, was not aired in the 90s. Take a look below if you need a reminder why…
(Video has some colorful language that your co-workers or children might not want to hear) 🙁
Why do I want to work from home?
Honestly, after 7 years of working crazy shifts for a job that wasn't my passion, I realized I could have spent that time behind the steering wheel doing more productive things. I can tell you almost every channel in the SiriusXM lineup & the broadcast schedules of certain radio stations, but I could have maintained my Spanish language skills or spent more time at home in general.
Working from home allows me to enjoy the flexibility I had the previous four years, when I could name my own working hours to a certain extent and not be bound to a schedule. If it's going to be sunny & work is slow, I can mow my lawn Tuesday right after lunch instead of on the weekend like the rest of the neighborhood. If my wife & I want to see the flowering dogwoods or do something with our daughter, I don't need to burn a vacation day. We go when we choose.
It's not all rosy. Working from home requires hard work & is time consuming. Whether you are self-employed or telecommuting with an employer, you do not make full-time wages working part-time hours. It requires self-discipline. If you spend the entire day surfing Facebook or watching cat videos on Youtube, you won't be making much money. We don't quit work at 4 p.m. everyday. As we are launching a couple different business ideas, almost every minute of free time is focused on No College Debt and planning summer & fall teaching gigs during the evenings right now.
I must admit I fell into the whole working from home idea by accident. My wife has a self-employed background & one whole level of our new house is built for her business. The money being paid in commercial rent can now be used to pay our mortgage instead. It's one of the financial reasons that allowed me to leave my former employer. She has the ability to pursue her gifts & passions two afternoons a week & I'm not required to work crazy hours to pay the electric bill.
I am optimistic about working from home than ever before. Keeping in touch with several of my former co-workers that have also left my employer & family members, working from home is more popular than I thought. Although most of them work regular corporate jobs in office environments, a couple have jobs that allow them to telecommute at least part of the week. One of my former co-workers is able to work completely from home & only needs to go to the corporate office a week or two each year.
Am I Truly Working From Home?
When I hear the phrase “Work From Home” I automatically think about sitting in front of a computer from 8 to 4 responding to e-mails, making phone calls, and possibly having a Skype session open for videoconferencing.
In reality this isn't the case. For me. It depends on your line of work, and my wife & I are “jacks of all trades” right now. We have a couple different business ideas in the fire with some that are paying money now & some we are hoping will start paying money later once we get established. I split my time 50/50 between home & the community right now, but I only have to drive 15 or 20 minutes to get to where I need to go & have a regular schedule.
We are self-employed & people think that means flexibility & freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want. As I mentioned earlier, we have a lot more freedom in planning our day than somebody punching a time clock. But, it's not as flexible as you might think. We have work commitments 4 days a week. The 5th day we leave open for any errands that can only be taken care of during the week and to tie up loose ends on our adventures. We are either producing more content, networking, or reading material from other successful entrepreneurs about launching a business idea. Remember, part-time hours does not equal full-time wages & TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch).
My wife & I are busting our tails trying to make our “side-hustles” into full-time hustles. We are trying to travel to various conventions & speaking engagements in order to publicize our brand beyond advertisements, as money & time allows. I spoke with a local business owner recently and he told me, “As long as you are passionate about your product and patient, eventually it will succeed.”
Passion. That is something required for long-term success in anything, whether it's parenting, school, or learning a new hobby. This is especially true for working at home or being self-employed. Unlike a corporation, where somebody else already put in the hard work of building a brand and employees need only to submit a resume to earn a paycheck, the self-employed need to be like the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerbergs of their company. Success doesn't appear overnight.
How You Can Work From Home? (the “Meat & Potatoes”)
Perhaps you want to work from home, but don't know how.
I was blessed with an entrepreneurial wife. Being the single track mind I am, traditional corporate America was the only option I thought existed for the longest time. Yes, I still scratch my head at least once a week wondering why we are trying the self-employed route when I could have found something with job security, paid vacation, insurance, 401k………
Self-employment isn't for everybody, but it is rewarding when you can say, “I built that.” It requires hard work & responsibility. But it is more achievable now than ever before thanks to technology.
Working from home might also depend on your financial situation and skill set. Not every industry can work from home. Until robots can build houses, a construction contractor still needs to hammer in nails by hand. But perhaps you can take the first step by starting a blog. It can be a great way to discover your passions & gifts.
There are other ways too, whether it's becoming a virtual assistant or monetizing your hobby. Start small & see where it takes you. Remain persistent and optimistic.
People who work from home full-time usually have several streams of income. For example, my wife and I have 4 different income streams currently. They are all part-time gigs but amount to full-time hours. I call it income diversification. Read most blogs from people who have made it full-time at home, and chances are they have more than one way of making income besides that single blog you are reading.
This is the first year I am able to use some of my college education and get paid for it. Ok, I needed a college degree to land my previous job, but Political Science & Spanish had nothing to do with being a transportation supervisor. So I don't count the last 7 years.
If you still want to work for an employer, there are also jobs that are very flexible with telecommuting. It might take some detective work, but they do exist.
A business term that is becoming more common is the “1099 Economy” or the “Uber economy.”
More businesses are leaning towards self-employed contractors for a host of reasons. So this might be another reason to start working from home, even if it's only a side business.
As the business model is always changing, people need to keep adapting. How many horse whip manufacturers thought the “horseless carriage” was a fad? Who would have thought 20 years ago, that drones would deliver Amazon products to your doorstep? Before you know it, your pizza might be delivered by a drone instead of the 16-year old boy who just got his driver's license last week.
Automation & Artificial Intelligence are going to be the two big factors in the coming years for employment and lifestyles around the world. As technology evolves, we need to adapt as well. I'm not saying working from home is the wave of the future, but I believe there will be more incentives to do so.
Do You Want To Work From Home?
Is there an inkling to work from home in your heart? If so, I hope you can pursue your passion even if it's only as a side hustle. Like I said, it's not for everybody. You & your spouse might be at each other's throats after the first day (thankfully my wife & I work together pretty well) or you need the public accountability that an office provides.
I apologize for the rambling, but I hope this post has turned the wheels in your mind or reaffirmed your zeal for your own business ventures.
What is your opinion about working from home?
Thanks For Reading,
P.S. For aspiring blogger, read my reflections from my first 6 months of blogging.
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.