How to work from home: A comprehensive guide

June 8, 2021 - 19 min read

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What are the benefits of working from home?

Industries most likely to work from home

The most popular remote work from home jobs

4 tips for how to work from home

Look out for these challenges when working from home

How to start working from home

Ready to start working from home?

COVID-19 made working from home a new reality for many employees.

Overnight, companies shifted to accommodate stay-at-home orders and make home-based work … well, work.

Many essential workers found themselves curious about how to work from home. While working from home became a possibility for many who may have never imagined it before. 

When you’re starting to explore remote work, it may seem difficult to figure out where to start. 

Here’s everything you need to know to successfully become a remote worker.

What are the benefits of working from home?

Working from home isn’t only about spending more time with your dog. There are a ton of benefits to remote work that you might not expect. 

Here are four pluses that make working from home a great option. 

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1. No commute

Spending time going to and from your workplace can make your day feel longer. In fact, 78% of employees say avoiding a commute is a top reason they prefer telecommuting.

 Less time and money spent on commuting means more time dedicated to family, friends, and yourself. 

2. Better focus

In 2020, working from home led to a 47% increase in productivity. That may be because a home office is quieter and more conducive to deep work. 

If you don’t have distractions at home, remote work can help you concentrate and check more tasks off your to-do list than you would in an office setting. 

3. Better work/life balance

Being able to do a load of laundry before a meeting can do wonders for your home life. 

It’s no surprise that, according to research from OWL Labs, 91% of people say work/life balance is the top reason they choose to work remotely.

4. Happier at work

Working from home also offers more time to spend on hobbies, being with friends or family, and enjoying home life. 

Research from OWL Labs found that 77% of people think having the ongoing option to work from home would make them happier. When we’re happier at home, we’re more likely to be happier at work, which can boost productivity.

Industries most likely to work from home

In some industries, there are tons of opportunities to work remotely. When you’re exploring how to work from home, you may have better luck depending on the sector you have experience in. 

Here are the most popular industries that offer work-from-home positions in the U.S.

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Healthcare

With the right software and permissions, many healthcare jobs can be done from home. Healthcare facilities, hospitals, and insurance companies frequently offer remote positions. 

The rise of telemedicine may make it so even doctors can work remotely regularly.

Tech

Many tech companies take a remote-first approach. While some even go further and don’t have a formal office space. 

Fully remote teams are common for startups, while large tech firms like Twitter and Facebook often have a flexible remote work policy.

Financial services

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular for financial services and banking companies. 

While some positions still require the occasional in-person meeting, 61% of CFOs in financial services plan to make remote work permanent for certain roles

Education

Whether it’s teaching a second language or a college course, COVID-19 has made remote learning the new norm. Many educators and administrators may have the option to work remotely and not from a classroom.

As remote work becomes more common, it makes sense that students experience learning from home. This can help them prepare for their future careers where remote work may be an option.

The most popular remote work from home jobs

If you’ve always worked in an office, it may seem daunting to find remote work. But finding a WFH job doesn’t have to be tough. 

There are many opportunities to find a job you love that you can do from home. Here are 10 of the most popular remote jobs.

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1. Financial advisors

Tax preparers, financial advisors, and accountants don’t always need face-to-face interaction with clients.

Plus, a lot of their work requires deep focus, making these roles perfect for working from home. 

2. Customer support representative

You may be shocked to learn that many customer service people work from the comfort of their own homes.

Answering customer questions by phone or chat is an excellent work-from-home job.

3. Recruiter

Finding the right talent can be done from home. 

Screening candidates, researching potential candidates, and scheduling interviews are well-suited for a home office.

4. Project manager

Project managers are used to handling teams in different locations, so working from home is a breeze for these expert organizers.

With the right tools, a project manager can connect with teammates and keep a project on track from home. 

5. Sales representatives

Phone calls are a great way to build relationships with potential clients. But, there’s no reason you need to be in an office to make calls. 

Sales teams can work remotely, but regular team meetings may be necessary to keep remote reps engaged.

6. Writer

Repurpose your existing experience and write what you know.

Many writers work from home, so this flexible job is a good option for any industry. Plus, depending on the position, you may be able to work less traditional work hours.

7. Tutor

Tutoring in any subject is a great way to help kids and adults learn while working remotely.

Many teachers have learned how to apply their skills and support students online during COVID-19. Applying those skills to tutoring can offer you job opportunities outside a classroom setting.

8. Web developer

There’s no need to be in an office when you’re a web developer or software engineer. 

Almost every industry needs web developers, so there are plenty of remote opportunities that are both challenging and engaging.

9. Medical coding and billing

Many doctors and hospitals need certified medical coding professionals to help them bill insurance and send invoices to patients.

Since medical coding is largely solitary work, this work from home job can be perfect for those looking for remote work.

10. Registered nurse

While doctors may return to the office, telehealth likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Registered nurses can work triage during telehealth sessions. They can also manage cases and answer patient questions by phone, chat, or on a dedicated website.

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4 tips for how to work from home

Even if working from home feels like a dream come true, it can become a nightmare without the right skills.

Here are four valuable tips to help you become an impactful remote employee.

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Define your boundaries

When you work from home, it’s easy to spend more or less time working than you intended. 

One day, you might get distracted cleaning the house. The next day, you might find yourself engrossed in a project until midnight.

Set intentional boundaries in your career by adding your work hours on your calendar and signing off at the end of the workday.

Connect with coworkers

It’s easy to feel disconnected and lonely when not in an office. Staying connected with coworkers through video conferencing and messaging can help you feel like you’re a valuable part of the team.

Working from a coffee shop or coworking space is also a great solution when you’re looking for human interaction. 

Maintain a routine

Creating routines can help you feel more secure and comfortable as you work from home.

Scheduling coffee breaks and walks during work hours will give you a chance to step away from your desk like you would in the office. Block off time on your calendar, so you know what to expect at the beginning of every day. 

Make a must-do list

To-do lists often become bogged down with tons of tasks, which can become overwhelming. Instead, determine the top three things you must do that day and foster a deep focus to tackle those tasks.

Learning how to self-manage can be an unexpected shift for people used to a boss guiding their day. A must-do list can make it easier to arrange your day and prioritize projects.

Look out for these challenges when working from home

Working from home can be a big transition for people used to office work. In the beginning, you may find yourself feeling stressed and not getting much work done. 

Here are six challenges to be aware of when you begin working from home.

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Lagging motivation

Without seeing others working around you, it’s easy to feel isolated and to lose motivation. Outside the office, you may struggle to see the impact your work makes. 

Keeping in contact with coworkers and your supervisor can help boost your motivation and productivity.

Getting distracted

Working from home comes with a host of distractions that aren’t at the office, like a pile of dirty dishes, unfinished laundry, or games on your phone.

A must-do list can help keep you focused and on task. 

Being always available

Effective communication takes more effort when you can’t just stop by someone’s desk. However, communicating well doesn’t mean being available 24/7.

Many remote workers have a hard time stepping away from work, and 42% feel stressed about being “always-on” and available at any hour. Closing your computer or email at the end of the workday can help prevent burnout.

Lack of training on tools

Workers spend an average of 45 minutes a day searching for necessary information. Part of the issue is that many workers never get the training they need to use digital channels.

Be your own advocate to get training on any tools you need to do your job. If you have questions or need help finding a document, ask a coworker to help you. 

Unproductive work habits

The best way to enjoy the benefits of working from home is to differentiate between your work time and home time. 

Getting dressed for work, working in a quiet environment, and developing routines can make you more productive and engaged at work.

Bad internet connection

Consistent internet is a must for remote working. No one enjoys a lagging video call or a slow browser. 

If you have too many people using your internet, it can slow your connection down. If necessary, upgrade your internet plan to make your workday run more smoothly.

How to start working from home

Now that you know all about remote work, all that’s left to do is start! 

Here are five steps to help get you started on the remote job of your dreams.

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Figure out your ‘why’

What drives you to work from home? 

Discovering your motivation for working from home can help you define what types of roles are right for you.

Search for roles

While many job sites feature a filter to find remote work, there are also dedicated websites that list only remote jobs

Explore which options are right for you, based on your why. Remember that some remote jobs may require you to be in a particular city for the occasional in-person meeting.

Design a workspace that works for you

Having a consistent and focused workspace makes a huge difference in your productivity. 

Create a dedicated room or area of your house that you’ll only use during work hours. Avoid the temptation to turn on the TV or work from your bed, where your focus can suffer.

See if your current job has remote options

Before you leave your current job, ask your manager or HR if there are any available remote jobs in the company.

Even if you’re not satisfied with your current role or company, shifting to remote work can change your perspective. Plus, it’s a great way to test if working from home is right for you.

Develop the right mindset

Working from home takes focus, and the wrong mindset can steer your ambitions off track. Prioritize your wellbeing and plan your day, so you get your must-do list done without burning out.

Ready to start working from home?

Remote work has become available to many professionals during COVID-19. However, the cultural shift to working from home is only beginning to take shape. This is the perfect time to develop a new career working remotely. 

Having the right mindset is crucial when you’re learning how to work from home. A BetterUp coach can help you transition into a career you love from the comfort of your own home. Sign up today and start working toward your dreams.


Published June 8, 2021

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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