We are undergoing a dramatic shift in work. The idea of 40 years at one company, followed by a golden watch and easy retirement are dead. Today we change jobs more than ever before. At the same time, we are also becoming more entrepreneurial. According to recent surveys, 53 million Americans — more than a third of the workforce — are doing freelance work today. Typically this work is done from home. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that telecommuting rose 79% between 2005 and 2012.
There are several reasons behind this tidal wave of change. For companies, employees that freelance from home are considerably cheaper. Companies can save thousands per employee on office space alone. Businesses have also shifted more roles to temporary contract work to trim their costs of hiring full-time, permanent employees. Meanwhile, one Stanford University study showed that work-from-home employees were 13% more productive.
But the rise in popularity of working from home wouldn’t happen if we as workers didn’t also benefit from the change. For example, a recent poll showed 85% of people believe working from home allows them to balance work and family needs.
With this in mind, we’ve created what is our WFHGuide manifesto — the reasons why working from home is soaring in popularity, and why we believe it is a permanent alternative to the classic 9-5 job.
1. Living to work is history. People now work to live.
For decades the traditional worklife of waking up early, toiling away for the good of the company, and then coming home late has persisted. Frankly, it had to. Classic economics is based on a business having two inputs — labor and capital — to create a product. The company combines these two inputs in the most efficient ratio to maximize profit.
Labor was consistently the cheaper of the those two inputs. The result were labor-intensive industries that required people to work consistently long hours. However, technology is evolving faster than at anytime in human history. As a result, capital like machinery and computers can do the work, decreasing the need for labor. The result is less of a reliance on long days, meaning more leisure time for the workforce.
Now people have the option of earning a steady living without working from sunrise to sunset. As a result, our attitudes have evolved to where we place more value on freedom and flexibility, choosing to spend our waking hours not always focused on on work, but spending time with family, entertainment, and other pursuits.
2. Work as we’ve known it is unnatural.
Think back to your grandfather. What did he do for a living? Chances are high that whatever he did was at a small company, close to home.
It wasn’t until the post World War II boom that the American culture of work began evolving to what we see today. The idea of working for a large company far from our home is completely foreign to what anyone knew until recently. Bakers, blacksmiths, farmers, and businessmen used to run small ventures located close to where they lived.
Today, that’s been flipped 180 degrees. We now spend our time shuttling ourselves back and forth from our homes to city centers. Because of soaring property prices over the past several decades, that commute has only gotten longer for most people.
With working from home, we go back to the sort of lifestyle our grandparents and great-grandparents knew. A lifestyle centered around the home and the family, not the office and the automobile.
3. We value freedom and flexibility, without having to ask.
According to a recent Harris Poll, 83% of respondents rated working from home as a “significant perk.” The reason is obvious. Working from home provides a level of flexibility that has been lost in our work for too long.
The time-based system of coming to work, punching a clock, and staying for eight hours is continually shown to be inefficient and unnatural. It simply doesn’t work in real-life. While the world continues to move toward a 24-hour lifestyle where any task can be done at any time, there are still so many things that need to be done during business hours. Picking kids up from school, going to the dentist, renewing a driver’s license all require us to stop work and attend to these tasks.
The good news is that most traditional companies understand this. Taking an hour or two to run an errand isn’t an issue. What is the issue is that too many of us as working adults have to either ask permission or at least check in with superiors to let them know we’ll be out of the office. It’s eerily similar to third grader having to ask the teacher for permission to go to the bathroom.
4. We can be our own boss.
For many people who work from home, they are also their own boss. The rise of freelancing especially creates the opportunity to become a one-person business with nothing more than a computer and internet connection. In our opinion, it’s the simplest way there is to own your own business.
Being your own boss comes with some nice perks. You alone get to decide how and when you work. You alone get to decide your effort level and how much work is needed. You alone get to decide your schedule and chart the course of your business.
For too long, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that business is an intimidating. Starting your own business and being your own boss requires you to be smarter than everyone else and work lomg hours. In many cases, this is true — especially if you are in an industry that requires significant costs to scale.
Many work-from-home opportunities, however, are impossible to fail at. The costs are extremely low, consisting of a computer and internet connection. The biggest investment is your time, which actually costs you nothing out of pocket. As long as you recoup your internet/computer costs, you are turning a profit. That’s not to say it’s not a lot of hard work or that you will become a millionaire. However, if turning a profit is the mark of a successful business, then it doesn’t get any easier than with work-from-home opportunities.
5. We can diversify our income.
If the boom and bust cycle the American economy has gone through for the past three decades has taught us one thing, it’s that no job is safe. No matter your experience, your education level, and the stability of your company, anyone can be laid off at the drop of a hat. That’s why it’s so important to not rely on a single stream of income (e.g. a full-time job), but to diversify your earnings.
With work-from-home opportunities you can do just that. The myriad of ways to make money from home span from small, menial tasks to earn a few extra bucks to full-scale contract and full-time jobs that qualify as careers. Either way, creating a stream of income from somewhere other than your 9-5 job is one of the most important things you can do to secure financial stability.
6. We can see our income match our effort.
The basis for modern economics rests on the foundation that people respond to incentives. For example, if the price of hamburgers goes down, there is an incentive to buy more, increasing demand for hamburgers.
What’s strange is that most jobs aren’t set up this way. If you earn a salary, it doesn’t change if you do more or better work. Sure, you might get a raise, but that’s not guaranteed. If you work for an hourly wage, what you earn is defined by the time you work, not how productive you actually are. In fact, sales is one of the few traditional professions where the incentives of doing a better job match result in higher income.
Many work-from-home jobs, however, allow for your income to match your effort. These jobs are measured not by how long you work, but how much you produce. If you want to earn more money as a freelance writer, you simply produce more content. If you want to see higher earnings from part-time opportunities, you simple have to do more.
Some people are scared of this idea. Yes, it means you have to work harder. But it’s exhilarating to know that what you earn is directly tied to your effort. It’s the most democratic form of work.
7. We can live anywhere we want.
Within less than a century, we have turned from a rural society to an urban society. Workers have flooded cities for jobs. At the same time, quality of life in these cities has plummeted. The cycle is vicious. Companies move to cities because that’s where the workers live. Workers flood to cities because that’s where there is work. As more people move to urban locations, traffic increases, lengthening commute times. Cost of living shoot through the roof — pushing affordability out of reach of most people. In turn, many find themselves trapped in a lifestyle that is more expensive, more busy, and more stressful than ever before.
Working from home offers the solution to all of these headaches. The ability to live in a smaller, less expensive city or town is within reach, while still earning decent income. In fact, there are scores of “digital nomads” who don’t even live anywhere at all. They simply travel the world, using work-from-home opportunities as a way to fund their lifestyle.
8. It’s easier to get your foot in the door.
Think about your last job interview. Chances are you went through a phone screen, then had to put on suit and tie, going to a formal interview. If you passed that test, you likely had to go back for a second or even third interview. Then, you waited for days or weeks to get an answer back from the company as they evaluated other candidates.
If you’re anything like us, the entire “song and dance” rubs you the wrong way. The idea of being actively judged in a high-pressure situation that in no way resembles the actual work environment seems asinine.
That said, we understand why most companies adhere to the traditional interview process. After all, bringing on a full-time hire is a major investment. But what if the company didn’t have to make such a big investment? Wouldn’t that lower the bar for who is the right pick for the job?
In fact it does. It’s much easier to get hired with most work-from-home jobs. Many opportunities, such as surveys or slogan contests accept every person interested. Most skilled positions will request samples of past work, but a formal, sit-down interview (unless working a corporate work-from-home job) is a rarity.
9. We aren’t stuck with just one kind of work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is an official government organization that tracks everything related to the U.S. labor force. According to the BLS, the average worker has been with their current company for 4.1 years. Just over four years is not terribly long. At that rate, a person would have nearly 10 different jobs over a 40-year working life.
Speaking anecdotally, we think that boredom plays a major part in this job switching. After being in the same role for years, you can find yourself in a routine. No longer challenged or learning on the job, your days blend together. That’s not the case with many work-from-home jobs. There are a vast amount of opportunities available — from doing random tasks with a company like Fiverr to becoming an English tutor to being on mock juries for money. If you want Tuesday’s work to look completely different from Monday’s work, it’s entirely possible. Never before has this sort of variety been available to the average worker.
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