The last time I worked in an office was three years ago. I was based in Makati City and our office ran customer support and moderation services for a client from Australia for four years. A few months earlier, the client had terminated our contract.
My sometime routine was to park my car at Glorietta IV then make the 20 minute walk to our office. The walk back would be another 20 minutes for a total of 40 minutes walking time. It was my way of getting extra exercise every day.
I enjoyed walking past the stores; I found it fun watching people and observing how they would wind down their day. Occasionally I would pick up an action figure from “Filbar’s” for my son and a box of “Krispy Kreme” donuts.
That final walk was bittersweet because it marked the end of one career and the beginning of another. Life would change in less than 24 hours because I would no longer take a car to work and make the 20 minute walk to an office. I would no longer wear my polo barong, slacks and loafers. Instead, I would be in casual wear holding office in a secluded room in my own home.
The first few days felt strange because while working, I found myself receiving mail and answering phone calls. At work, I had a secretary and a messenger. During break time, I would be preparing the night’s dinner menu. For awhile, I missed the office lifestyle.
Three years later, I have no regrets.
Since I started working from home, I have become more productive. I developed new skills, improved on my many weaknesses and matured as a professional. The most significant breakthrough was overcoming my fears and discovering my abilities to take my business to the next level. Of course, there were many disappointments and failures along the way. But there were also many great victories and wonderful blessings.
Working from home has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Among the notable advantages are:
- Greater level of productivity
- Lower expenses
- More quality time with the family
- Less stress
- Work-related concerns are quickly addressed
Of course, there are also disadvantages:
- Distractions: television, guitar and the sofa
- Frequent interruptions: receiving mail and answering phone calls
But overall, there are certainly more advantages and these are more significant.
The benefits of working from home became apparent when I had to go to Makati for a meeting with a client. The meeting was set for 1:00pm at Greenbelt 3. I left the house at 11:00am so I could have time to have a preliminary meeting with my associate at 12:00pm and we could go over strategy.
I got to Greenbelt 3 at 1:30pm. Traffic is the worst excuse you can give but in the Philippines, horrendous traffic appears to be a way of life. The client arrived much later at 2:30pm and she only came from Taguig!
Three years working from home and I can openly and honestly say this is the best time to start a home based business. More companies are looking to outsource work and working conditions will continue to get worse for the office employee.
Here are five (5) reasons to consider a home based career now:
1. There is an increased demand for services worldwide
Demand for home-based work is a function of two factors.
First, the evolution of digital technology and the growth in popularity of the Internet have driven the expansion of the industry for home-based workers. Second, the global recession and other world-changing events have necessitated a shift in corporate strategy. Businesses have undertaken measures to streamline operation costs without compromising productivity or quality of work. Thus, we have seen the exponential growth in the global outsourcing industry in the last 15 years, and home-based workers are among its beneficiaries.
In the United States, a growing number of large-scale companies have been integrating home-based workers into their staffing strategies. Home-based workers in the US are commonly referred to as “telecommuters.” The reasons for their increasing popularity are as follows:
- Greater productivity. A study conducted by Ctrip, a call center service provider, showed that home-based agents are 17% more productive than office-based employees.
- Worsening climate change. As ice storms and hurricanes increased in frequency and magnitude, many companies sought to include telecommuters in their workforce as contingencies.
- Increased cost savings. A study by Stanford University showed that telecommuting saves companies US$1,900 per employee per month and decreases employee turnover.
However, integration in the workforce is not the only option for home-based workers. There are successful medium- to large-scale companies, which adopted business models that are purely composed of home-based workers. Among these companies are as follows:
- Alpine Access is a call center company that uses customer service representatives who work from home. The company provides representatives for clients such as Office Depot and J. Crew.
- Extended Presence provides their clients with outbound sales agents and marketing support staff who work from home.
- Spheris provides services to support medical professionals, such as medical transcription and clinical documentation.
Popular online job markets, such as Elance, have noted the increase in the number of freelancers who have entered the industry. Since its acquisition of oDesk in December 18, 2013, Elance has grown to become the largest purveyor of online jobs for home-based workers. Elance-Upwork has more than 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses using its network.
2. Digital technology has made work considerably manageable
In a recent presentation I had with a large-scale corporation, several key questions asked by its representatives had to do with project management.
- How do you organize the work of your home-based agents?
As mentioned earlier, the evolution of digital technology has spurred the growth of the industry simply because managing projects is much easier at present than in 2009.
Several reputable and similarly effective project management programs are available online. Among the popular ones are Asana, Bitrix-24, and salesforce.com. These systems have user-friendly navigational systems, and they are highly accessible and, best of all, cost nothing.