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How to Work from Home (from Someone Who Does)

How to work remotely, no matter your current situation

Working from home gif

Working from home, now more commonly called remote work, is quickly becoming a regular part of modern work culture, and the uptake on remote work arrangements is increasing every year. The ability to work from home—even part of the time—is good for employers: It attracts talent, boosts employee productivity, and increases employee retention. And for workers, the flexibility, lack of commute, the ability to work from anywhere, and more time with family are a few of the draws to work-from-home jobs. 

All of the jobs I’ve had since I joined the workforce in 2011 have allowed for at least some remote work, and now I work from home full-time. Here’s how I landed my full-time remote gig and how you might do the same. 

4 ways to work from home

1. Apply to a job and negotiate the ability to work from home / remotely

Your current employer may not allow remote work, so you may have to look elsewhere. This is how I got a job that lets me work from home full-time. 

Look for a job you want, and not just one that advertises remote work. So much is up for negotiation when you take a new job, including the ability to work from home full- or at least part-time. 

When I was looking for a new job in 2018, I knew that my husband’s job could take us out of state, though I didn’t know when. So when I interviewed for my job at InHerSight, I told them this as soon as I knew this job was one I wanted. 

Don’t wait until negotiating the final job offer to bring up the fact that you want to work from home, especially if the role isn’t advertised as a remote job. Talk about it as soon as you know the job is one that you want but before they extend an offer. Let them know it’s a term of your employment. 

2. Apply to a company that offers remote work

If you don’t want to go the negotiation route, then applying to a job that is advertised as a remote role is your best option. Most job search sites will let you filter your results by remote / work-from-home opportunities. 

You can use InHerSight’s job match tool to find remote jobs in your field, or you can start with our list of the best companies for telecommuting jobs

3. Negotiate the ability to work remotely at your current job

Yes, you can negotiate the ability to work remotely with your current employer. If your boss is hesitant, you might suggest a trial period or to start working from home a few days per week before transitioning to full-time work.

You’ll need to show your boss you’ve thought through the logistics of remote work (How will you attend meetings? What will your work hours be? How will you manage your direct reports?) and that you’ve made a plan to make the arrangement work.

When you’re ready to have the conversation, schedule a face-to-face meeting, and use this guide: How to Ask Your Boss to Let You Work from Home.

4. Go freelance or independent

Striking out on your own is another way to work from home. Freelancing or consulting in your field can be a lot of work on its own, but it can also afford you all the flexibility you want. You might even start with your current employer as your first client and build your roster from there. 

Read more: Are You Right for Self-Employment?

Do you have to tell your employer or potential employer why you want to work from home?

You don’t owe them an explanation as to why you want to work from home, but having reasons may help your case, especially if you’ve been working in the office or if the company has offices near you.

You might point to increased productivity (there are plenty of stats on this), competitor practices, childcare responsibilities, or you might even negotiate it as perk that comes with a raise or promotion.

Read more: Office Politics? I’ll Work from Home, Thanks

How to work from home and make it work

There is a difference between working from home and having flexible work hours

Sometimes remote work and flextime come together, but don’t assume they do. You may land a job that lets you work from home, but your employer may expect you to be available during specified work hours. Be sure to discuss expectations here. And if you want flexible work hours, you can negotiate that, too, just make it a part of the working-from-home discussion.

You might feel the itch to get out of the house

After about two months of working from home, I started feeling really isolated. If you’re in a new city, like I was, or are naturally an extrovert, consider joining a coworking space. I found that I need some form of separation between work and home, and being around people, even if they’re not my coworkers, helps me stay balanced (and I’m an introvert).

Read more: How to Avoid Cabin Fever When You Work from Home

You should keep work and home separate as much as possible

I do work from my home a few days per week, and when I do, I work only in my home office, which I use for nothing else but work. If you don’t have a room to dedicate to work, then use the same desk or corner of your home for this purpose alone. 

Create rhythm

Working from home may or may not include the ability to design your own schedule, but if it does, you may find that having some sort of rhythm is helpful. 

I’ve found that my ideal workday looks like this: Work from 8:30 or 9 a.m. until about 3 or 4 p.m., at which time I take a break (to do a few household tasks, run errands, call a friend, take a walk, or go for a run), eat dinner, and then finish up my work between dinner and bedtime. A late-afternoon break is more helpful to me than is one at lunchtime. Finding your rhythm and sticking to it (within reason, of course—you wanted to flex your hours for a reason) can help you stay productive. 

Building rapport with your coworkers is more important than ever 

When you’re not face to face with your coworkers every day, building relationships and rapport is not only more difficult, it’s more important. Use video calls whenever you can—even if it’s only to ask a few questions—so you replicate that face-to-face interaction as much as possible. Make sure you’re active in your team’s GChat or Slack channel so you stay up to date on office conversation. I even have a standing 15-minute video call on Thursdays to talk to my team about anything but work. Communicate regularly, communicate clearly. 

Read more: 51 Companies That Offer Telecommuting Jobs

A company that’s mastered remote work

Scott’s Cheap Flights, whose entire workforce is remote, has had to master the art of remote work. Some managers send feedback via voice recording instead of email, employees are encouraged to schedule 15-minute “doughnut chats” to catch up with coworkers, and the company provides meet-up allowances so that employees visiting each others’ cities can grab dinner together. 

Read more: 5 Job Market Trends We’re Looking Forward to in 2020

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By Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

Content Strategist, InHerSight

Emily is on staff at InHerSight where she writes about data and women's rights. 

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