Avoid These Pitfalls When Searching for Work From Home Part-Time Jobs

A part-time job where you can work from home may seem like a dream come true, but before embarking on this path, take time to do some planning and self-reflection.

The idea of working from home part-time is appealing for many reasons. It can offer the flexibility to set your own schedule, giving you the freedom to pursue hobbies, work on fitness, or care for loved ones. In theory, you can work in your sweatpants and come and go as you please. Plus, there is no hassle of a commute. 

For stay-at-home parents, retirees, or those just looking for more flexibility in their careers, working from home part-time may seem like the solution to all your problems, especially after working in an environment where your employer fixes your schedule and location. 

However, the allure of a perfect part-time job may cause you to overlook the risks and drawbacks of work-from-home opportunities. Here are a few to watch out for.

1. Figure Out if You Have the Space

Do you really have the space in your home to dedicate to a work environment? Make sure you have an area permanently dedicated to work so you don’t blur the lines between work and personal life. 

Without a dedicated workspace, it can be challenging to “clock out” and disconnect from work, which can lead to burnout and exhaustion in the long term. Planning to work from the sofa or half the dining room table is not setting yourself up for long-term success. 

Designating a small cubby desk or side table as a work area can be a solution if it allows you to create a boundary between work and home life. Be sure to consider comfort as well: working at a coffee table may seem comfortable for an hour or two, but it may lead to postural problems and pain if ergonomics aren't considered.

2. Be Realistic About Whether Working From Home Is a Good Fit

Before pursuing a part-time job where you can work from home, be sure to do an honest self-assessment to make sure this kind of job is a good fit for your lifestyle. Working from home means overcoming the distractions of your personal life. Do you have the discipline to buckle down and work surrounded by unfinished household chores and infinite entertainment options? 

Consider who would be inhabiting your home space during work hours, and think carefully about whether you can set boundaries to minimize interruptions. If you have kids or noisy pets in the house, evaluate whether you can afford to hire a sitter or dog walker during work hours to allow you quiet time to focus. Telling yourself, “I’m sure the kids will stay quiet,” may not fit with reality. Do a test run for a few days to see if you can really work uninterrupted.

3. Consider the Costs

Working from home will definitely save you money by eliminating your commute and not having to buy work clothes, but there may be unforeseen costs.  

First, your home utility bills will increase, from lights and water to heating and cooling your home while you’re there. If your office space doesn't currently have a printer, filing cabinet, or shredder, these items and more may need to be purchased (although these are often deductible as business expenses). Good task lighting is key to avoiding eye strain and having an appropriate background for video calls. 

As mentioned earlier, ergonomics is essential. Buying a suitable chair will pay off in the long run by preventing chiropractic or physical therapy fees. 

A final cost to consider is cybersecurity and tech assistance. Working from home can increase the risks of business data being hacked or stolen, and working without a dedicated tech support person can be challenging. Many independent workers pay local companies to help manage their security, hardware, and software.

4. Be Honest About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Another part of self-assessment is knowing what kind of work you would be good at. Some work-from-home jobs require no experience, such as simple data entry, but before doing an online job search, take a personal inventory. 

I recommend that people make three lists: 

  1. List your strengths and values: What are you naturally good at, whether work-related or not? For example, are you great with people, adept at numbers, highly organized, or amazing at convincing people of something? 
  2. List your education and training: What have you been trained in or educated in?  What are your knowledge and job skills? For example, have you taken classes in accounting or medical coding? 
  3. List your interests and passions: What are the things you are excited about or research in your free time? This may include hobbies or areas of interest you are an expert in. 

Look at the three lists to determine if there is an overlap between them. You may want to consult a trusted friend or former co-worker to help you brainstorm ideas. Sometimes, the idea for a great job or work from home opportunity comes from thinking outside the box.

5. Decide if You Want To Work for Yourself or Someone Else

Working for a company versus going alone has pros and cons. A company provides security and stability and most likely a steady paycheck.  However, you may lose flexibility and have to work a set schedule during the day. 

The reality of having to answer to a supervisor may not be attractive, but the right boss can provide you with support, encouragement, and career development. Co-workers can also provide a welcome and needed source of human interaction for a stay-at-home job.

For those who want to go solo, freelance work allows you the freedom to set your own schedule but requires some salesmanship in marketing your skills. In addition, you are not guaranteed a steady income and may have peaks and valleys in what you earn. The upside is that your earning potential is not limited to a salary set by an employer; the sky’s the limit!

A final option is starting your own business. There are many options for working from home as an entrepreneur. The possibilities are endless, from online side hustles to starting your own bookkeeping business. Be sure to research any opportunity fully before embarking on an online business. If possible, talk to several already successful people to get tips on how to begin and determine whether it’s a good fit for you.

6. Don’t Fall for Work-From-Home Scams

Remember the adage, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Needless to say, don’t provide your sensitive personal information to anyone unknown to you without first vetting the company thoroughly. Be extremely leery of any job or business opportunity from an ad, especially on social media. Ask for referrals and talk to several live people on the phone or (better) by video chat to confirm any opportunity.

Above all, beware of any business opportunity that charges a fee to get started. Some companies offer what seems like lucrative offers to help you start your own business or be successful working from home. However, most of these are either outright scams or bait-and-switch schemes where an opportunity is offered (for a fee) with guarantees of success, but the tools and products provided are not as promised.

When in doubt, search online for the company's name alongside words like “review,” “scam,” or “complaint.” If a course or coaching company is a legitimate opportunity, you will probably find sites offering unbiased reviews explaining whether it’s a scam or not.

Working from home part-time can be extremely rewarding and provides many with the freedom and independence they can’t find in jobs outside the house. While remote part-time work may seem like the perfect career move, it's important to consider the potential risks and drawbacks before taking the leap. From ensuring you have a dedicated workspace to being realistic about your discipline and boundaries to considering the unforeseen costs, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself about the pros and cons. 

By carefully considering all of the above, you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for success in your part-time work-from-home endeavors.

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.

Laura Bradman
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