Pros and Cons of Working Online
What is the future of work-from-home jobs?
What is positive about working from home? What are the negative aspects? Maybe you are trying to see if you are interested in working from home, or maybe you are getting your toes wet and you want to see if this whole working-from-home venture is for you. Can working online be a long-term venture or not? These facts about the day-to-day effects of working online and information about the future of working online can help guide you toward the best decision for your career.
Let’s start with the positive aspects.
More Job Options
When you are searching for a job in your area, you are limited to a radius of how far you are willing to drive. Different people have different limits, but generally, there are only so many jobs open within your circle. By working online, more opportunities present themselves. You can work not only with people in the United States but with people in other countries as well. Working online has allowed me to meet many interesting people.
On Upwork, for example, I have narrowed “my feed” to only jobs that fit certain criteria, jobs that would apply to me, not IT jobs or something I would not be able to do. There are approximately 30-40 jobs posted every hour, jobs that potentially all fit my criteria and skill set. That’s a lot of jobs! I’ve worked with employers from Australia, the UK, and the US, all while living in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and North Carolina. When I have needed work, there has always been something available. And what’s better is that something available has almost always been something enjoyed doing, not like taking a job at the local fast food joint.
The average American spends about 100 hours commuting every year. That’s two and a half work weeks or a sick vacation in another country. My husband drove an hour to work and an hour back every day for over a year. Talk about a waste of time! That’s two hours where he wasn’t earning any money as he put miles on his car and used more money for gas. With no commute, you are saving yourself the time (and aggravation) of traffic jams and wear and tear on your vehicle. While my husband’s mileage has gone up almost 2000 miles a month, my car has only gone up maybe seven or eight hundred a month. If I say I will work six hours today, I will work six hours, not drive there and drive back, making it seven or eight hours. This time can then be turned around to, well, make more money.
So, yes, most jobs working online do not offer benefits such as PTO, but really, don’t you earn that back when you aren’t wasting hours commuting? If I’m the average American, then I would save 100 hours each year by not commuting, 100 unpaid hours. Instead of spending those unpaid hours on the road, I would rather spend them relaxing by the beach.
Working online gives those who have already retired a chance to earn some extra income. Instead of stretching each penny so that they can make their pension or social security last, this opportunity allows them to work online and earn some pocket money after they have quit a regular, full-time job. Research shows that many people can feel purposeless if they retire completely at sixty years old. A part time job online provides that purpose for seniors without forcing them to work forty or more hours a week.
Also, if you already have a full time job but need just a little extra income to put toward a car payment or toward a nice vacation, working online can provide that extra income. More than 44 million Americans have some sort of side hustle but only earn an average of $200 a month once the price of drive time and gas are added in. With online platforming, your extra income can rise because you have the flexibility of what and when.
If you’ve ever worked in an office job for long, then you know different things can make you uncomfortable and less productive. The office may be too cold or too hot. Maybe the dress code was too strict, and you were never comfortable in what you had to wear. Trust me, you are not alone. When uniforms for teachers were enforced at the school where I worked, that was almost grounds for quitting.
Another factor than can quickly change an office environment is your co-workers. No matter how personable you are, there will always be a co-worker or two who just rubs you the wrong way. Working online means that you still may rub shoulders with someone you dislike, but you won’t be forced to deal with them eight or nine hours straight each work day. All in all, your work experience will hold fewer aggravations.
Many studies have been done about the benefits of working at home, and one interesting result was getting sick less often. Because you aren’t exposed to as many germs, as many people coughing onto you or sneezing onto your file folder, then you are less likely to deal with as many viruses. The recycled air used in office buildings also helps the spread of germs. Alternatively, stress levels go down working online. A high level of stress can worsen diabetes and depression and cause headaches.
Also, because you are saving time with your commute, you have more time to exercise. The flexibility of your hours and location allows you to choose different options, such as a standing desk, sitting on an exercise ball, or lifting weights for a few minutes every hour.
One of my favorite parts of working online is the flexibility. Yes, you need to be self-disciplined and get your work done on time, but being more flexible also means you have the ability to take a vacation when you want, no asking a boss’s permission. I love being able to work more hours or do more jobs when I need to earn more money or doing fewer jobs when I have something else more pressing.
Working online makes you more efficient than doing the same job in an office. You’re not distracted by other people (unless your home is filled with people on a daily basis). Also, the temperature is always to your liking. You’re not shivering or sweating while trying to get work done. Your deskmate’s perfume isn’t too strong. The lack of these little distractions means that you are able to get more done. Also, you can take little breaks when you need them to do important things such as washing the dishes, doing laundry, or getting the mail. Instead of trying to do those things when you get home after a tiring day of work, they are done already because you do them while you work.
Being able to take small, mental breaks each day where you are actually doing something productive can help refresh your brain.
Have you ever heard of “karoshi?” It’s a Japanese word that literally means “overwork death.” Karoshi is a death from working too much, sometimes heart failure or suicides that trace back to work overload are counted as “karoshi” deaths. Linking to the sixty to seventy hour workweeks Japan, over 10,000 Japanese suffer karoshi every year. That’s an amazingly high number.
Being productive and taking time for yourself throughout the day keeps karoshi in Japan.
When you can’t talk to someone face to face, you don’t get the advantages of hearing their tone and volume and seeing their facial expressions. Also, sometimes working online means that you work with someone from a different country and culture. Cultural expectations may be different. Some cultures expect you to voice your opinion wheras others prefer you to agree to everything and never say what you really think. In Chinese culture, it is polite to refuse a gift three times and always disagree with a compliment.
What can you do to address this concern? If you’re going to be working with someone from a different culture for an extended amount of time, do some research. Learn the most common faux pas and how you can avoid them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you are meeting all expectations and not offending anyone.
As far as communication, having face-to-face virtual meetings using a video call software can help avoid communication errors.
Working online, there isn’t usually a clocking in or clocking out system. Maybe you negotiate a price for a job then a client doesn’t want to pay you what you had worked out. There’s also a little thing called taxes.
Make sure that you have some sort of contract in writing for any work you do online. This can be as simple as ________ will provide _______ amount of work at ________ price. Have both parties sign it. Some online working platforms will provide a simple contract. This way, you have a signed copy of what you are owed. Secondly, if you have a new client and you don’t know their payment history, make sure that you start out with small jobs or break a large job into smaller milestones. Instead of turning in hours and hours of work and expecting a big pay day, it is better to turn it in small amounts at a time. If they don’t pay for section two, then don’t send them section three. This way, you are less likely to lose as much money.
Research online payment systems.What do you need to know about online payments? Know how long it takes to move money and what the fees are. Also, is there any way you can demand money or hold money in escrow? This way, the money has already been taken out of their account and is just waiting for their approval of your work.
As far as taxes, an online program will suffice. Turbotax is one I have used the last few years, and they have done an excellent job calculating.
The Future of Working Online
What is the future of online? Where can we expect the number of jobs and opportunity to be in ten years? It’s only expected to grow as more and more people discover the ease of hiring online as well as the flip side where employees realize all the benefits of working from home. Nearly three percent of employees in the United States workforce work online from home at least two days a week. That number will continue to grow.
Ten years ago, the only work-from-home jobs were usually telemarketing or working in a customer service position. Not only were the jobs uninteresting, but they paid minimum wage. Sure, you might have flexibility and the opportunity to stay home, but neither of those jobs sounds very appealing to the majority of people who want to work online.
Now, there are many different fields that offer employment from home. Some of the most popular fields are writing, translating, managing social media, working as a virtual assistant, blogging, and entering data. Many other types of jobs are available as well, with pay anywhere from $10 an hour to $75 an hour or more. Not only is the opportunity expanding, but the number of people interested in jobs and offering jobs is also growing.
How much is it growing? What will it look like in the future? While it is impossible to give an exact number, trends from the past few years have been studied to predict that by 2025 the amount of remote work will surpass that of work in fixed locations. In the last ten years or so, the number of remote workers has increased by 115%. That growth will only continue at a more rapid pace.
Focusing mainly on the millenials, who are the next generation of the main workforce, a large majority (over 80%) who work from home actually report feeling more loyalty toward an employer or company. So not only is the employer getting more trust from their employee, but they are saving in costs such as rent, lights, and training.
What do these trends mean for those who are interested in working online? The trends mean that the ability to correctly navigate online platforms and programs will be highly valued. Basic computer skills will be required and the more experienced your skills, the better opportunities you will have. Secondly, English skills will be in high demand. Even if your first language isn’t English, being able to speak and write the language well will open up many more job opportunities, ones that you don’t need to travel to take.
Also, as the number of people working online from home rises, cafes will begin to cater toward these remote workers, offering things such as “day passes” and multiple workspaces with appropriate fixtures. This will provide more opportunities for those who work online to meet others and to have a change of pace. I always find myself the most productive at home, but some people prefer to have hustle and bustle around them. As an online worker, you will be able to find the location that meets your needs.
The security measures for accessing accounts and information will rise to meet the increased risks of obtaining information over different networks and devices. Also, the number of tools directed toward connecting workers who work for the same company but not in the same location will increase. You will be able to connect with your colleagues virtually.
More “traditional” roles for working online will also be open. If you prefer to work for one client or company every day consistently, more of those opportunities will be available. Offices that have a fixed location will be offering remote work for several reasons. First of all, they can have access to more experienced workers even if those potential employees are not in the immediate vicinity. Secondly, they will be able to accommodate workers more easily by offering benefits such as a certain number of remote work days.
These changes will guarantee that working online or working remotely runs smoothly. The number of people engaging in online work will increase as will the means to do so. Good luck as you join this rising trend!