Back to Basics: Easy Telecommute Tips for Launching a Successful Career

Interested in telecommuting but don’t know where to start? You’re in the right place. This quick reference guide for easy telecommute tips provides a launching pad for a successful telecommuting career.

Back to Basics: Easy Telecommute Tips for Launching a Successful Career

Telecommuting Terms to Know

Before we get started with our list of easy telecommute tips, take a look at these telecommuting terms you need to know:

  • Telecommute: To work off-site from a remote location, usually at home
  • Telework: Another term for telecommute
  • Partial Telecommuting: To work from a remote location part of the time (e.g., two or three days per week) and on-site (e.g., employer headquarters or client office) the rest of the time
  • Remote Job: A telecommuting job that allows you to work off-site, usually at home
  • Work-At-Home (WAH) Job: A telecommuting job you can perform entirely from your home
  • Home-Based Job: A telecommuting job that may require travel, but your home serves as your main office
  • Virtual Company: A business that does not have a physical location and operates completely online
  • Employee: An individual who works for a company and receives either hourly wages or a yearly salary, where the company deducts income taxes and offers additional benefits, such as health insurance and retirement investment accounts
  • Part-Time Employee: An employee who works less than 40 hours per week
  • Independent Contractor: A self-employed individual who provides services to clients, usually serving one client at a time for a defined period
  • Freelancer: An independent contractor who provides services to clients, usually serving multiple clients at a time on an as-needed basis
  • Consultant: An independent contractor or employee who provides professional advice
  • Coworking: An environment where self-employed professionals and telecommuters who work for different employers share a workspace, office equipment, and other resources

The Benefits of Telecommuting

Telecommuting provides a rewarding career path that grants you more ownership over your life.

There are the obvious benefits like improved work-life balance, flexible schedules, and no daily commutes, but the subtle, day-to-day freedoms and advantages are what make telecommuting truly wonderful.

For example, you don’t have call off work when your kids are home sick or when you need to wait around for the electrician or plumber. You can do chores during your breaks so that you have more time in the evenings and weekends. You can wear what you want, work on the back patio, and design an office that fully expresses your style.

Telecommuting is also a viable work model for stay-at-home parents, individuals with specialized care needs or those caring for family members with specific needs, globetrotters, retirees, and professionals who want to change careers or re-enter the workforce after an extended time away.

Common Telecommuting Challenges

Though telecommuting affords more work-life balance, you’re responsible for creating that balance.

You inevitably have to deal with distractions, procrastination, and loneliness at some point. You also need to maintain excellent time management and communication skills.

For example, household chores, energetic children, and loud roommates create distracting work environments. Also, it’s common to work continuously throughout the day without ever clocking out and enjoying your free time. You may also neglect to take sick days when you’re ill or vacation days when you’re on a trip.

You are also responsible for keeping your office up and running. Necessary equipment like routers, printer, phones, and laptops need to be updated regularly and functioning properly. You need to back up your work and implement adequate information security controls, especially if you’re handling sensitive data.

Don’t get discouraged, however. The woes of telecommuting aren’t any more difficult than those of the office. The major difference is that you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder to keep you on track. You need to learn the art of discipline and self-management to succeed long term.

Top Telecommuting Companies, Jobs, and States

California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois are consistently top states for telecommuting jobs.

Such jobs are sourced from fields like information technology, sales, healthcare, education, and management. Jobs within the insurance, customer service, consulting, account management, and project management telecommuting industries also rank high. There are always plenty of writing, graphic design, web development, online tutoring, virtual assistance, and online marketing jobs available as well.

Companies like UnitedHealth Group, Kaplan, K12, Salesforce, and Oracle consistently hire remote workers. Such companies offer full-time, part-time, and temporary positions for employees and contractors. Check out the Virtual Vocations Company Database and sift through over 9,000 companies that hire telecommuters.

Required Tools and Equipment

At a minimum, you need a desktop or laptop computer with the latest operating system and high-speed internet. Depending on your responsibilities, you may also need a printer, scanner, or headset with microphone. Your employer or client might provide resources to support your job. However, if you work as an independent contractor or freelancer, you usually need to buy your own equipment.

Other useful tools that help support an efficient work environment include:

  • Time tracking software like Harvest or Toggl
  • Video conferencing applications like Skype or GoToMeeting
  • Cloud-based document storage like Dropbox or Google Drive

Once you get your feet wet, you’ll figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try new software and applications until you establish a reliable workflow.

Related: 14 Free and Low-Cost Software Tools for Remote Teams

Search for Jobs

Go the Virtual Vocations Job Database for the latest telecommute job postings. Explore the different job categories and read through the descriptions carefully. You may notice that jobs with similar descriptions use different titles. For example, customer success specialists, customer service representatives, and client relation managers may have similar responsibilities. Keep an eye out for titles that seem similar, and be sure to include related job titles in your search.

Consider your knowledge, skills, and experience when reading through job descriptions. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I meet the job qualifications and requirements?
  • Is the job description interesting?
  • Does the job align with my career goals?
  • Is this a job for employees or independent contractors?
  • Does the job require full-time or part-time commitment?
  • Does the job require travel or have any geographic restrictions?

Identify the type of employment offered (e.g., full-time, part-time, temporary, employee, or contractor). Employment type affects your income taxes and opportunities for health insurance and retirement benefits.

Also, clearly identify the telecommute status and travel requirements. Some telecommuting jobs require occasional travel to client sites or company headquarters. Other jobs enforce geographic restrictions due to state employment laws, licensing requirements, and tax regulations.

Related: Why Do Telecommute Jobs Have a Location Requirement?

When you narrow down your options, research the companies by reading through the corporate websites, LinkedIn profiles, and customer and employee reviews. Familiarize yourself with the company mission statements, strategies, clientele, and products and services offered.

Watch out false job postings and know the differences between legit telecommuting jobs, scams, and business opportunities. Sign up for our free Getting Started with Telecommuting eCourse to learn how to spot scammers and protect your personal information.

Apply for Jobs

To apply for telecommuting jobs, you need to prepare a killer resumé. The Virtual Vocations Telecommute Toolkit has tons of resumé templates for you to use and modify.

Take advantage of modern resumé fonts and styles to make your personality stand out.

Keep a simple, minimally formatted version of your resumé on hand in case you need to upload your resumé to an automatic tracking system (ATS). Also, it’s wise to tailor your resumé to each job posting and map your qualifications directly to the job requirements.

Not sure if your resumé is up to snuff? Use our Professional Resumé Review service to get a thorough analysis and expert advice on how to get noticed by top employers.

Manage Your Online Presence

Have you ever Googled your name just to see what shows up in the search results? If you want to establish a reputable telecommuting career, then you need to evaluate your online presence. Here are examples of what you can do:

  • Update the privacy settings on your social media profiles to control what is publicly shared.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn profile with targeted keywords so that recruiters can find you.
  • Register your first and last name as a website domain and create a simple resumé webpage.
  • Write guests posts for blogs related to your industry to demonstrate your knowledge and establish yourself as a thought leader.
  • Create an online portfolio using your Virtual Vocations membership and include the public link in your email signature.

If you’re a creative professional, such as a web developer, graphic designer, or photographer, you may need a more elaborate website to show off your work. At a minimum, however, you should monitor your online reputation, limit what you share publicly, and align your online profiles so that recruiters can find and research you easily.

Set Up Your Workspace and Schedule

Though you may enjoy working in your pajamas all day during the first week of telecommuting, it can get old after a while. Instead of using your bed as your office, dedicate a comfortable workspace that promotes productivity and efficiency. Plus, if you use a separate room or area of your home exclusively for work, you may be eligible for tax advantages.

Depending on your telecommuting job, you may need to work during assigned business hours.

If your employer offers time flexibility, it’s wise to establish a work schedule to prevent procrastination. Make sure everyone in your house is aware of your work hours and discourage interruptions until you take breaks – and do take breaks throughout the day.

Related: Telecommuting Productivity Hacks: 10 Insider Tips from Virtual Vocations Team Members

Be mindful of time zone differences and daylight savings when working while traveling. Also, create a simple strategy for sick days and emergencies and communicate the plan to your employer.

Organize Your Finances

Whether you’re an employee or contractor, brush up on your tax knowledge and create a bookkeeping system for office expenses and income. You may be able to deduct certain expenses, such as computer software, office equipment, and a portion of your phone, internet, and electric bill.

If you’re an employee, your employer deducts income taxes from your paycheck, and you receive a W-2 tax form each year. Understand and monitor your benefits package so that you can access health care and plan for retirement.

If you’re a contractor, know your tax obligations and pay your estimated taxes on time. Also, consider insurance and investment options that employees typically receive. Talk to a financial planner and tax professional so that you comply with legal requirements and start saving for retirement as early as possible.

Keep Learning

There’s so much more to learn about telecommuting, such as:

Register for a Virtual Vocations account to check out the Virtual Vocations Telecommuting Handbook and other helpful resources in the Telecommute Toolkit. Consider signing up for a premium membership to access more resumé templates, e-Courses, and industry guides that help set you up for success.

Learn as much as you can, discover more telecommute tips on our blog, and invest in yourself so that you can overcome the challenges and reap all the glorious freedoms of telecommuting!

Are you interested in working from home? Did these telecommute tips help you in your job search? Tell us about your dream job when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you! 


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