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What's the worst part of your workday? Is it your job or all the work you do just getting to and from the office? Consider how much time you spend on packing your lunch, sitting in rush hour twice a day, deciding which grocery store is easiest to get to on the way home not to mention the money you spend on dry cleaning your clothes.
Thanks to e-mail, remote desktops, PDAs and other technology, you can bypass these inconveniences and just work from home.
Many employers now include optional work-from-home days as an employee perk, and others are even making certain positions permanently home-based. In the last few years, the job market has seen an influx of companies that only hire at-home workers.
Plenty of people who are choosing to work for these companies. A recent CareerBuilder.com survey finds that over 27 percent of employees telecommute at some point during the year. The chance to put in a full day's work while wearing pajamas is too appealing to pass up.
A variety of companies hire home-based workers, and many entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses based out of their homes. The following companies offer work-from-home opportunities to job seekers:
• Alpine Access: A call center company that uses home-based customer service representatives to handle calls for a variety of companies, including J. Crew and 1-800-Flowers.
• Arise: Matches work-from-home agents with open positions in sales, technical support and customer service.
• Convergys: Hires home-based agents to serve as customer service, technical assistance or sales agents for clients.
• Liveops: Customer service calls for a variety of major corporations are routed through this center and answered by people who work from home.
• Staffcentrix: Finds virtual assistants who perform a variety of administrative and other business tasks from their home for CEOs and other clients.
• VirtuServe: A call center that hires home agents for various services, such as telemarketing, help desk support and survey research.
• VIPdesk: Home-based concierge and customer service agents are hired to work with various companies.
• West Corporation: Finds customer service agents based out of their homes for a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, retail and hospitality.
Tips for your search
When looking for companies that hire work-from-home employees, here are some things to consider:
• Beware of work-from-home job postings that sound ideal but require you to pay a fee, transfer money, set up a bank account or give too much personal information up front. Research the company before you apply for a position to ensure it's legitimate. A little homework can help you avoid the many scams out there.
• Make sure you understand the expenses involved with working from home. A high-speed Internet connection, mobile phone, printer and other items might be necessary to perform your job, so know what you'll need and what you can afford. Check with a financial adviser to see if you can write off any of this equipment when you file your taxes.
• If you want to work at home so you can spend more time with your children or aren't looking for a full-time job, don't apply for positions that will be high-stress and have long hours. Working from home can be just as demanding as working in an office, so search wisely.
• Use search terms on job boards like "home office," "telecommute" and "work from home."
Tips for working from home
When you do land that home-based job, here are some tips to make your transition from the cubicle to the home office easier:
• Stick to a schedule. Although you're not at the office and nobody's monitoring you, a schedule helps you stay on task and avoid procrastination.
• Eat lunch. When you're at the office, the lunch hour is when you get to step away from your desk and run errands, meet up with a friend or enjoy your lunch outside. Make sure you give yourself this time to do what you want so that you're not as tempted to mix work and personal time throughout the day.
• Location is everything. If you're in front of the TV and an arms-length from the pantry you'll never get anything done. Dedicate a room or area in your home for work so that you won't be tempted to do spend your day watching talk shows and eating chips.
• Don't forget to take a break. A common telecommuting habit is to work too much. Don't forget that, while you need self-discipline when working at home, you also don't need to ignore your children or your pets. A few minutes here and there won't ruin your productivity and they might even put you in a better mood. E-mail to a friend
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