Working from home: the insider’s secrets to success

This way to work/life balance

These days, it seems like just about everyone is interested in working from home. But while it does come with some pretty sweet perks — the world’s shortest commute, flexible hours — it’s not a walk in the park.

First of all, getting work you can do at home is often trickier than it sounds. Although more businesses are offering this perk than ever before, there’s still a lot of competition for these jobs. And then when you do finally land that dream job, you’ve got to learn how to work in a totally different environment.

I’ve been working from home for over five years, and I’ve tried a lot of different things to find out what works.

So read on for some of my best tips on how to get started and then successfully work from home, while (mostly) avoiding all the distractions.

6 tips on working from home successfully

A work-at-home job sounds amazing, and it is. Here’s what you’ll need to succeed.

  1. Get the tech.
  2. Build a brand.
  3. Turn up on time.
  4. Get childcare.
  5. Make some rules.
  6. Change up your environment.

Before we dig into my steps, let’s discuss where to look for work-at-home jobs.

Finding a work-from-home job

Working from Home Woman Working in Kitchen
Because your employer can’t see you working, you’ll have to work harder to prove yourself.

A growing number of businesses are advertising “remote” work positions. So if you want a work-from-home job, there’s never been a better time. Take a look at these top 10 companies that offer work from home roles.

You’ll see that there’s so much variety in the types of jobs you can do from home:

  • Music and English teaching.
  • Hairdressing and personal styling.
  • Programming and website design.
  • Financial planning, bookkeeping and accounting.
  • Massage therapy, nutrition and personal training.
  • Human Resources (HR) and recruiting.
  • Customer service and sales.
  • Insurance and real estate.
  • Drop-ship or sell your own products through an online store.
  • Social media marketing, project management and so much more.

To find a remote job, set up job alerts on keywords like “remote,” “work from home,” and “telecommute,” plus your areas of expertise (“information technology,” “customer service,” or “sales agent” for example). This way, you’ll get an email whenever a job that fits you opens up. Learn how to do this on LinkedIn, APS Jobs and Indeed.

Don’t wait too long before you send in your applications. The best jobs get filled quickly.

Remember, you’re not limited to local jobs, so you can apply to companies from all over the world.

But if you can’t find a work-from-home role that’s right for you, that’s okay. There’s always self-employment. People all over Australia open businesses from home, many working as sole traders.

The pros and cons of working from home

Working from home can be quite different if you’re used to working in an office. You might like it, or you might not. Here are some of the biggest differences:

  • It’s quiet, unless you have noisy neighbours.
  • There’s no commute; you can roll out of bed then get right to work.
  • It costs less, as you won’t spend much on petrol, parking or eating lunch out.
  • There are no boundaries, so it can take a while to figure out how to separate work and life.
  • It’s just you — your colleagues will probably either be small children, cats or dogs.
  • You’ll need to work harder to build trust with your employer or clients, because you’re not face-to-face.

Depending on your personality and the type of job you do, working from home comes with a mix of good and bad. But in my opinion, it has a lot more positives than negatives. I’ve never been happier or more productive than when I’m working in my home office.

How to work from home like a pro

So, how can you set yourself up for success? Here are six tips to help you work at home like a pro.

1. Get the tech

You’ll need a reliable internet connection above all else. But you’ll probably also need a computer, smartphone and headphones to do your job and communicate with colleagues.

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with some common apps used by remote teams, like:

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Trello
  • Asana

Be ready to start using whatever tools the employer or client is using. The good news is, all of these apps have free versions so you can play around without paying.

2. Build a brand

Working from Home Jewelry Designer
Anything that can be done in an office can be done at home.

Whether you’re starting your own consulting business or trying to get a work-at-home job, creating a personal brand will help you get hired.

Personal branding is an effort to establish an image in the minds of others about your skills.

To learn how to create a brand of your own, read this terrific post. From finding a unique angle that gets potential customers to connect with you to where to get a business logo, it’s all covered.

You’ll also want to get a domain name (YourName.com.au or similar), then set up a simple website that says who you are and what you do. Be sure to add your web address to your resume, business cards and job applications.

Related: 9 branding blunders to avoid when choosing a company name

3. Turn up on time

The quickest way to ruin a remote working relationship is to be late, miss a deadline or not show up. Nowhere is it more important to under-promise and over-deliver than as a remote worker.

If you say you’ll have the report done by Friday, get it done on Thursday. If they’ve called a Zoom meeting for 10 a.m., be waiting online at 9:58.

When you show up consistently, your employer or clients trust that you’re working when you say you are, even when they can’t see you.

4. Get childcare

Speaking from experience, as soon as your kids are old enough, send them off to grandma’s house, childcare or school at least a couple of days a week. It’s frustrating trying to work from home with kids around, so make sure you’ve got at least some kid-free time.

5. Make some rules

Flexibility is great, but not when you use it to work all the time. Even if you shut your office door or turn off your computer at 5:00, it’s very tempting to do just one more thing after dinner.

Working from home means the workday never really ends.

 

So decide when you want to work, and stick to it. Otherwise you might never have any fun or family time.

6. Change up your environment

Working from home can be solitary — especially for social types. If you feel like you need some company, head to a local coworking space, office or library. Or if you’re happy to hang out at home, get your social fix by networking in online communities.

Starting your own business from home

Working from Home Man at a Computer
A computer and a reliable internet connection is all you need to start many home businesses.

There are plenty of businesses you can run from home — check out just nine of them here.

More and more Australians are choosing to start their own businesses at home.

It’s the most flexible arrangement because you can choose your own hours around family commitments, school drop-offs, holidays, hobbies and more. Plus, you can keep costs low because you don’t have to rent office space.

Don’t expect a dream job right away

We all have to start somewhere, so don’t expect your dream role to happen right away. Even if you just start with a side hustle freelancing gig, you’ll learn so much. And you’ll be in a better position to turn it into full-time consulting or get a remote job with a great employer.

You’ve got this

Like with all new things, there’s going to be a learning curve. But hopefully, these tips will help you have an easier time getting that work from home role, then adapting to your new work environment quickly.

It’s not easy, but it is worth it.