It may seem ironic, but the fact that I live in a rural area, more than 30-minute drive from a city of any significant size, is one of the main reasons I originally started looking for a work-from-home position. That, and the desire for a more flexible, family-friendly position.
Many moons ago, when I first graduated from college, I began my job search. This search has lasted more than 15 years. For most, I think this is a process that never really ends. Many professionals are open to new opportunities, new positions that may offer growth in some new way. So, it’s not that I was unemployed for 15 years. In fact, for most of those years I was very happily employed, yet still searching.
As I searched, and as the job market ebbed and flowed, it became increasingly obvious that the number of jobs in my geographic region were limited. If I wanted to drive 30 minutes, I could find something decent. If I was willing to drive an hour, something a little better.
It was frustrating to realize that there just weren’t that many professional opportunities in my community. When many of my classmates were leaving town for college and not coming back, I chose to marry into a farm family. Which meant there would be no move to a more populated area.
Twenty years ago, I knew that I wanted to work-from-home someday. However, it was much more uncommon then, and the way I envisioned working from home was much different than it actually is for me now. My first 2-3 jobs out of college gave me some great experience, but none of them was the ‘perfect’ fit. As I gained more experience, my eyes became more open to the possibilities of working in a non-traditional office setting and not limiting myself to a certain mile radius.
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A Long Commute?
What is one thing that all those first jobs had in common?
A long commute and lots of driving. At one point, I was commuting for nearly two hours per day. This was also the same time in my life that I had my first child. That is a lot of time to spend away from your baby, somewhat needlessly. Although I enjoyed my job, I knew there was something better and a little more flexible out there.
Remote working can be an obvious way to erase that commute from your daily schedule and allow more time at home, with your kids or doing other things that need to be done. If you live in a remote area, these commutes can be even more time consuming and draining.
Fast forward a couple of years, another baby and another new position. This particular job was just 15 minutes away and much more flexible and family-friendly than any other job I had ever had. It lacked a long commute and had many perks. It was right around the corner from my kids’ elementary school, and they even let me leave early to pick them up from school most days. As far as typical office jobs go, I definitely considered it above average.
Opportunity for Advancement
So, why am I not still working there?
While family and flexibility are very important to me, so is my career and professional life. Opportunity for advancement and growth is vital to me and something I feel I also need in my life to feel fulfilled and like the best version of myself. Jobs are limited here in my remote area, and larger organizations that offer a legitimate opportunity for advancement are pretty much nonexistent. The idea of returning to a longer commute to find a better paying job with advancement potential seemed like a bad idea. Expanding my search and revisiting the idea of working from home seemed much better.
There are a lot of large companies that have a significant telecommuting workforce. Aetna, Amazon, Apple, Dell, and Salesforce all offer significant work-from-home opportunities. Organizations like this have made a commitment and put resources toward empowering home shored positions. They see it to their advantage, and many different positions qualify to work-from-home. And, by the nature of their size, these companies provide the opportunity for advancement and promotion from within. This is a distinct advantage for someone who doesn’t live near physical corporate offices.
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With the constant advancement of technology, you can pretty much work from anywhere. There are so many tools to make virtual communication effective and collaborative. Forward-thinking companies know this and embrace it and enable a worldwide, mobile workforce.
However, corporate positions are not for everyone and working from home can open up many other possibilities as well. Many small startups hire virtual employees. There are avenues such as direct selling, where you can join a larger company but benefit from different freedoms and flexibility. Or, with the vast possibilities on the internet, you can start your own business, retail or service-based, and truly determine your own schedule, priorities and work-life balance.
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Remote working has many advantages, and there are many ways to go about it. No matter your goals and personal aspirations, there is a way to accomplish them.