"Work at home" are magic words to the weary, standard-issue office drone. They conjure images of you fulfilling your obligations at your own pace without having to worry about answering to anyone but yourself. The thought of making money with minimal effort also bring a twinkle to the eye.
Sounds like a dream, right? The idea of working from home is really enticing, especially for workers who have had it with the country's worsening traffic, dismal public transportation, stagnant and uneven wages, rising costs of living, annoying co-workers and bosses... should we keep going?
But transitioning from office work to home-office work isn’t a decision you should make lightly. Beware of thinking it’s all fun and games as well. The truth is, working on your own is harder than being an employed nine-to-fiver, as evidence by the stories of these three individuals who pummel through the daily grind from their home HQ full-time. It's time to learn that, as with any job, money’s just one part of the story.
Name: Jepster T.
Occupation: Wedding Videographer, Team Lead, Video Content Creator
Salary (or usual range): P20,000-PhP80,000 a month, depending on the season. (December is heaven.)
What I used to do: Graphic Designer, College Instructor
What I do now: Wedding Videographer, Video Content Creator, Brand Speaker
The best thing(s) about working from home: Since most of my shoots are on weekends, I get to relax for the rest of the week. I usually have an editor who handles my bigger projects so that gives me more time to do more productive activities. Sometimes, I also get to do bigger projects or passion projects, so that’s a huge plus.
The worst thing(s) about working from home: I sort of have an issue with time management, and it doesn’t help that I’m mostly active during the afternoon until the late hours of the night. Even if I wake up early in the morning, I tend to take a siesta after breakfast, wake up around lunchtime, and start actual work in the afternoon. It’s not always the case, but when it happens, I feel so unproductive.
What you wish you knew before changing careers: Once you become your own boss, it takes a whole lot of control. And before entering into a work-from-home mode, you should have saved a little bit more for those extra expenses.
What I miss about working 9-to-5: Honestly, a social life. People think that if you work from home, you can go out any time you want. Well, the question is, with who? When most of your colleagues actually have the same lifestyle as you do, social life is, well, social media. That’s why when I’m invited to an event (professional or personal), I take every opportunity to meet new people and catch up with industry colleagues.
Advice for those who want to work from home, too: Have a plan. I decided to do this with very little planning and direction, which led me to mishandle my time, finances, and personal life. It took me a while to get a hold of everything again. And most importantly, network! Attend events related to your field so that you not only have more contacts, but an added social life as well!
Occupation/Industry: US Mortgage Industry
Salary (or usual range): US$7.00/hour (around PhP360)
What I used to do: Self-employed/General Manager (retail)
What I do now: Self-employed/Contact Center Manager
The best thing(s) about working from home? It’s cheaper to work at home. You cook your own food, and you don’t need to commute. Although the best thing about it is that you can wake up five minutes before shift and work in your pajamas.
The worst thing(s) about working from home? The worst would be working alone in a room with practically no one to talk to. Normal jobs have some form of socialization involved. With home-based jobs, all you have are your keyboard, mouse, and computer screen as your companions.
What you wish you knew before changing careers? That not all jobs are legit. I’ve experienced working hundreds of hours and not getting paid for it. Knowing that beforehand could have made me wiser in choosing what jobs to do.
What I miss about working 9-to-5? Having buddies that you work with. Meeting new people and creating bonds of friendship with people you work with. Home-based jobs are cold and impersonal. You talk with your colleagues using chat rooms and sometimes voice calls. You work with different personalities from different parts of the world, and even if you want to socialize, it's practically impossible to do.
Advice for those who want to work at home, too? Know what you want to do first. There are thousands of home-based jobs out there ranging from web development, IT services, voice accounts, and even helping elementary kids with their homework. Study the company offering the job. There are some out there that will take advantage of you and will never pay you. Lastly, be confident about how much you want to be paid for your work. Always start high and avoid low-balling your wage. Study how much the minimum wage is in the country where the company’s based.
Occupation/Industry: Web Content Manager
Salary (or usual range): P50,000-P70,000 (My rate is by the hour, so this range is presuming I work 30-40 hours per week. I don’t have a fixed monthly/weekly salary.)
What I used to do: I used to be a magazine editor, a web content editor, and a freelance writer. So it’s not so far from what I do now.
What I do now: I work for two different companies (that are in two different industries) as a web content manager. What I do usually involves sourcing articles, editing articles and blog posts, sourcing and editing images, publishing articles and blog posts on various websites, and creating and sending e-mail newsletters.
The best thing(s) about working from home: Not having to deal with traffic! Also, not having to dress up. I can be as comfortable as I want, except when I have to do video chats, which isn’t often. Also, being around for my child. I’m able to take absences even at the last minute due to health reasons, thanks to my very understanding bosses.
The worst thing(s) about working from home: The uncertainty of employment and income. Thankfully, I’ve been with the two companies I work for for a few years now, but I’ve also experienced being let go because of budget cuts. Also, not having any employment benefits, so I have to take care of my own health insurance. And being responsible for upgrading or replacing my hardware, software, and internet connections.
What you wish you knew before changing careers: I wish I took the time to learn more skills, like web design, which could open more doors in terms of job opportunity.
What I miss about working 9-to-5: Office chika! And job security, although working in an office doesn’t really ensure that. But I do miss being around people.
Advice for those who want to work from home, too: Assess your priorities before deciding to make the switch. If you’re the breadwinner of your family, be sure to hedge your risks by having more than one job. Learn how to manage your time and finances. Be professional. This is still work; you’re just not in an office environment. Cultivate relationships with the people you work with.