Whether you’re working remotely one day per week (or more) or full time—by choice or because of a health situation or weather event—it’s important to ensure that you are set up to be productive. This includes having a designated workspace with the right technology, such as for videoconferencing; ways of dealing with kids, pets, and other potential disruptions; and a schedule that allows for the social contact and stimulation that ordinarily comes from being in a workplace with others. Here are strategies and tips to be successful as a remote worker.
Maintain Regular Hours
That said, one of the best benefits of remote work is flexibility, when the job allows for it. Sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.
Automatic time-tracking apps, such as RescueTime, let you check in on whether you’re sticking to your schedule. They can also help you figure out what times of day you’re most productive versus when you slack off. You can use that information to your advantage by protecting the hours when you’re most likely to get difficult work done. For example, if you tend to have high productivity between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m., don’t schedule meetings during that time.
Where Work-From-Home Jobs Are
Job-hunting site FlexJobs vets its telecommuting/part-time/freelance listings for legitimacy and conducts periodic surveys of where the growth in flexible work is. Here are some of the top fields and companies that it identified in 2021.
Health and Medical Services
In the health sector, the leading companies with work-at-home employment include healthcare giants Humana, CVS Health, and UnitedHealth Group. The job titles they have sought to fill include healthcare information specialist, medical transcriptionist, medical coder, medical billing, and insurance representative.
Computers and Information Technology (IT)
A less surprising work-at-home–friendly category is computers and IT, which is known for its progressive approach to virtual offices. Some employers—such as Red Hat, Salesforce, and SAP—offer job listings in high-tech sales (sales being one of the original flex-time professions). Other job titles that tech companies often seek to fill with remote workers include project manager, web designer, and software developer.
According to FlexJobs, the 10 fastest-growing remote job categories in 2021 are: marketing, administrative, human resources and recruiting, accounting and finance, graphic design, customer service, writing, mortgage and real estate, internet and ecommerce, and project management.
Before you apply for a position be sure that it’s a legitimate online job with an actual company. Even if it’s a company you’ve never heard of, you should be able to find information about the firm and look up reviews of the company online, Beasley says. In other words, you want to make sure the organization has a digital footprint beyond something they create themselves (like a LinkedIn page or website).
Most importantly, you should never have to pay money to apply for a position or to begin a job, Silverman says. Make sure you understand how you will be paid and how often, he says. And trust your gut. If you think something doesn’t sound right, don’t move ahead with the position.
Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a freelance journalist who writes about the culture of work, entrepreneurship, and technology. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Ozy.com, Family Circle, Good, Quartz, The Week, HR Magazine, Men’s Journal, Eater, and the Christian Science Monitor.