In the past couple of years, the world changed, and we got a few new words to show for it. One of them is WFH. It is an acronym that means “Work From Home.”
In simple terms, it describes a way of working in which employees execute their job responsibilities from their homes.
If you’ve seen the term a lot lately, it’s because this way of working is on the rise. Remote work, a longer, alternative word for WFH, has seen a dramatic 140% growth in the past 15 years. 22% in the last year alone.
The recent explosion was triggered by COVID-19 when millions of workers had to work from home for the first time. But there has been a steady rise since 2005 fuelled by collaborative software, internet access, cloud computing, Wi-Fi-enabled devices, and other technologies.
These technologies have made WFH part of the modern lexicon and a real possibility since its conception in the early 1970s.
This article is an extensive guide on what WFH means, its benefits, downsides, and how to get a Work From Home job.
If you want to come back to read the whole thing, here are the cliff notes:
- WFH generally applies to white-collar and knowledge workers who traditionally worked in an office environment.
- Employees need a separate workspace, internet service, and mastery of collaborative tools to work effectively from home.
- Work from home benefits both employees and employers. Its advantages include reduced turnover, lower organizational costs, flexibility, and increased productivity.
- More than 40% of full-time US employees work from home and an additional 20% work from home part of the time. 52% of global employees work from home at least once a week. Work from home is here to stay.
- Leading industries for remote work include information technology, healthcare, and finance. The WFH positions include customer service and sales representatives, developers, and project managers.
Now, let’s dive deeper.
The foundational knowledge you need to understand how WFH works is it only applies to jobs within the office environment.
That means knowledge workers and white-collar jobs like programming, graphic designing, law, etc. If they don’t physically have to be there to get their job done, they can work from home.
That means hands-on jobs like plumbing, photography, ambulance workers, etc., still have to leave their homes to get their work done. In theory, their jobs can go remote, but the technologies to make that happen efficiently (or at all) haven’t been perfected.
So, how does WFH work? Say you are a customer care representative for Passion, Inc, and the company institutes a work from home policy.
Instead of making a 30-minute commute to the Passion HQ, you grab your laptop and log on to your work environment when you are ready to work.
The same goes for company-wide communication and office gossip over Slack, a business communication platform. Or Teams. Or Discord.
The specifics will differ from company to company, but this is a basic idea of how a WFH model generally works.
No, it does not. The central premise of WFH is that employees do not have to travel to a central office building to fulfill their job responsibilities.
It primarily means the ability for employees to complete their tasks remotely. The alternative term, remote work, is a more accurate description of the concept.
‘Home’ here means anywhere. It can be your house, a coffee shop, a friend’s apartment, or a coworking space, which has been a popular choice for WFH workers in recent years.
And in some cases, H doesn’t mean anywhere either. Because of tax and labor reasons, sometimes a WFH job only means you don’t have to go into an office, but you have to reside in the same state or city as the company.
Other times, WFH only applies to a couple of days in the workweek. Some companies have WFH Wednesdays, and others allow you to do two days on-site and three off-site. This is also known as the hybrid work model.
Understanding the nuances of the concept is essential to your decision-making if you are ever considering a WFH job.
Also Read: Most Successful Small Business Ideas List
Let’s talk about the impact of working from home. WFH is a model that benefits employees and employers alike. Some of the benefits include:
The obvious benefit of WFH is earning money from your home. Not passive income like stocks or a side business, but making while working for a business entity.
But the main earnings benefit is, work contract permitting, the ability to double your income by working for more than one company—as long as you can manage the workload effectively.
This benefit is especially true for freelancers. You can have a primary income while earning extra on the side.
In a WFH model, you can work for companies in different countries and receive payment for your services via payment platforms like PayPal, WorldRemit, and Stripe.
In the US, the average one-way commuting time is 27.1 minutes. That’s nearly one hour of each day spent getting to and from.
When you extract that over an entire year, it adds up to about 100 hours commuting and an additional 41 hours in traffic.
The time saved is not the only benefit of not having to commute to a physical office. Increased levels of stress and anxiety are associated with more than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting.
Higher cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, and increased risk of depression are other health issues associated with daily commuting.
Asides from decreasing the likelihood of these issues, the limited commuting nature of WFH has a knock-on effect of boosting productivity. Without the exhaustion from driving, you can get your work done efficiently.
Whether full-time WFH or hybrid, most remote jobs come with a flexible schedule. This is the precursor to achieving a work-life balance.
Workers can start and end their day as they choose, as long as they finish their work and produce strong results. WFH allows them to focus on other priorities in their personal life.
Whether it’s running errands, attending your kids’ school events, or being home for a contractor, these tasks are more manageable when you work from home.
More significantly, the flexibility allows you to improve the quality of your life. You can spend more time with the family, work out more, get extra sleep in the morning, and eat a healthy breakfast.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, a typical company can save around $11,000 per year on every employee who works from home, even if it is some of the time.
The study also estimated that companies saved over $30 billion per day during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These savings come from office costs, including overhead, real estate costs, transit subsidies, continuity of operations, etc.
Big and small companies are already tapping into this benefit. Twitter, Facebook, Shopify, and Square are examples of companies that have already implemented a permanent work from home policy.
But money savings isn’t exclusive to employers. People who work from home half the time can also save around $4000 a year.
These savings come from reduced spending on car maintenance, gas, parking fees, transportation, and professional wardrobe.
The design of the traditional work environment creates false positives. It can lead to bias and favoritism, and slackers who know how to look the part can appear more hardworking than those who are.
Remote work levels the playing field. With fewer interruptions, fewer office politics, less and more efficient meetings, and a quieter environment, employees can focus on improving their performance.
After all, performance is a better indicator of productivity.
Researchers have proven this true already. Several surveys and studies have shown that workers were more productive working from home than in the office. This is good for employees and employers alike.
All of these are direct benefits of working from home. The model also has second-order advantages, such as a happier, healthier work life.
You have more time for hobbies and interests, better coworker and manager relationships. You can recover from illness and surgery at home without taking sick days and have less exposure to diseases.
It would not be an honest guide if I didn’t tell you about the bad sides of working from home, especially since WFH experiences differ for each individual.
Here are a few:
The office isn’t just a building; it is also the place with the equipment many people use to get their work done. High-speed internet, copier machines, high-end laptops, monitors are some major examples.
A lot of employees lose these when they WFH. Nearly 33% of people who work from home don’t have the means to replicate their work environment at home.
And although some employers provide this for their employees, most workers have to pay the cost of buying home office equipment.
In-office jobs come with a routine structure. You clock in and out at a specific time. The flexibility of WFH, while good, also means an unpredictable schedule.
It is not unheard of for managers to send late-night emails while expecting an immediate response. The lack of a rigid schedule can also lead to overworking, as some people can become too focused on work.
Additionally, those who have a hard time sticking to a personal schedule might also have trouble getting their work done on time without the structure of a traditional work model.
The office is a social gathering for many people, and remote work doesn’t offer that advantage. Going long without it can lead to social isolation.
Although video conferencing tools can help bridge this gap, it’s not the same as in-person interaction. Long hours interacting only via a computer screen can be challenging.
It might also not be as efficient as sitting together and brainstorming ideas. After all, “man is by nature a social animal,”
A hybrid model might be the ideal WFH option in instances like this. Workers can enjoy the perks of WFH and a central office when they need them.
You’re probably thinking, this seems like a great idea, but will it be permanent? Or is this a temporary side effect of the pandemic?
The truth is, it is hard for anyone to say definitively. No one can see the future.
However, there are multiple signs that this is the new normal. So, it is good you’re reading this article because you will likely be seeing more WFH posts on your social feeds in the future.
Leading companies across multiple industries are instituting permanent WFH policies. There is also an increasing number of jobs that workers can do from home. Either as a full-time, part-time, or freelancer.
Experts predict that 25% of all professional jobs will be remote in North America, and a similar trend is growing worldwide.
If you are considering getting a WFH job, there is no better time to jump in the pool.
A working model that lets you work anywhere has jobs everywhere. There are plenty of opportunities, many of which you can find online.
Here is a list of some of the great places to find remote work:
A simple Google Research of “role you want remote work” will also return a list of jobs and websites you can find and apply to WFH roles.
But these are just where to get remote work.
Working from home also means there are more job applicants to compete with. Standing out is key to getting work-from-home jobs.
Here are a few tips to help.
Before you start submitting your resume, you should know where you place in the category of job seekers. There are three:
- Someone new to the industry who wants to start a career. Maybe you just finished college. Perhaps you just finished a training course. Or you’ve moved somewhere new.
- Experienced industry worker who wants to switch companies. Looking for better pay, a new manager, or a fresh start.
- Switching careers into a new field. It’s more of a career re-orientation than an entry-level staff.
Knowing where you belong will help you identify the skills you need to apply to the right roles. It will also determine how you shape your resume and sell yourself to employers.
Your resume should tell a story about who you are and what you’ve done. Whether it’s your resume or LinkedIn profile, make it easy for hiring managers and recruiters to read and understand you and your work history.
If you need it, there are online services that help, especially if you are switching industries. They are not free but are worth it.
Don’t just apply to any job, even if the job description and pay are attractive. That’s why it is crucial to understand the kind of job seeker you are.
Only apply to the roles that match your skills and were recently posted. If you search for WFH jobs on a job site, sort jobs by “date posted.”
You don’t want to spend time applying to postings that are no longer active or have been filled.
Depending on your category as a job seeker, it is likely that you will need to apply to 20 to 30 jobs to get 3 to 4 interviews.
It means you cannot apply to a few places and then wait. You should keep applying. If your resume is well in order, try and apply to two jobs a day at a minimum.
Also, network with people who are likely to hire you. Or other remote workers. By building a pipeline of people who might want your skillset, you increase your chances of landing a WFH job.
Stay in touch with your network. Reach out every 3 or 4 months. Even if they don’t have anything for you at the time, it will keep you top of mind for future roles.
Another way is to ask your boss. If you can do your work from home, talk to them about the possibility of switching to remote work.
When you do, focus on the benefits of WFH, especially the ones it will bring the company, like cost savings and increased productivity.
That’s our guide on WFH. Working from home is a profitable and empowering new way to work popularized during the pandemic.
Whether you are a freelancer, full-time, or part-timer, there’s a remote job for you.
WFH is not without its pros and cons, but it is a way to escape office life as long as you understand the pros and cons.
Cassie Riley has a passion for all things marketing and social media. She is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, language, music, writing, and unicorns. Cassie is a lifetime learner, and loves to spend time attending classes, webinars, and summits.