No commute to keep you away from your kids for hours a day, flexibility when it comes to childcare arrangements and not having to swipe a card to get into the bathroom are just a few of the benefits that make working from home a dream of many parents—as well as a reality for a growing number of telecommuters. In 1995, only 9 percent of U.S. workers were able to work from home. Now, about 37 percent of employees spend some time in their home office.
The arrangement is especially attractive to new moms who want to keep a foot in the career world while making as much time as possible for family. Internet scams prey on moms looking for such opportunities, but legit jobs are out there. (I’m doing one right now! ?)
Certain industries are more likely to offer telecommuting opportunities to employees. Every year FlexJobs (a trustworthy website for remote job seekers) compiles a list of the top 100 companies offering telecommuting opportunities. Not surprisingly, IT and tech firms lead the pack. Even outside of the tech world, though, there are opportunities in fields like health, government, finance, customer service, sales and even education.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in the top 20, as is K12, a provider of online educational programs for kids. If you have a second language, a telephone interpreting firm is on the list. There are plenty of telecommuting opportunities in insurance as well.
If you’ve already got a job and just want to move your desk from an office tower to your spare room, the road to the home office could start with a simple conversation with your boss. According to the Harvard Business Review, parents asking to work remotely should present their argument in terms of how it would benefit the company (even if it would benefit your family even more). Explaining to your boss how eliminating a grinding commute would free you up to do more client outreach is one example of a compelling argument.
Findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that if you’re in management, business, financial operations or a so-called professional job, you’re more likely to hear “yes” when asking for telecommuting opportunities. But if it’s a no from your boss, don’t lose hope. In more than 61 percent of U.S. families (and more than 70 percent of Canadian families) both parents are working, so the need for employee work-life balance is becoming a bigger and bigger part of corporate culture, paving the way for flexible work arrangements.
If you do find that golden opportunity for work from home, experts suggest making sure you stick to a routine, change out of your pajamas, have a professional backdrop for video calls and put a toddler-proof lock on your door. (We all remember the professor whose kid crashed his BBC interview, right?)
Like every part of parenting, working from home is all about balance.