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July 10, 2018 > Work from home -- too good to be true?

Work from home -- too good to be true?

By Anne Chan, PhD, MFT

With Bay Area commutes getting longer and longer, many of you might be dreaming of a job with no commute. Imagine getting up in the morning and padding leisurely down to your home office where you can work comfortably in your pajamas. Your commute is a very doable 7 seconds by foot (with coffee cup in hand). Sounds wonderful, doesn?t it? Well, it is entirely possible to have a work from home job, but there are a few caveats.

First, be wary of all ads promising work from home jobs with unbelievable pay rates. Here are the major red flags to watch out for:

? You see an ad on a telephone pole that promises you thousands of dollars work from home. Moreover, the handwritten notice assures you that no training is required. As the saying goes, if it?s too good to be true, it probably is. Scams like these will lure you by enticements of working only a few hours and earning a lot of money. It sounds too good to be true, doesn?t it? Well, it probably is -- be extremely cautious of such ads!

? You should not have to pay money upfront to land a work from home job. Some scams work by asking for fees or requiring you to pay for equipment or supplies. You are told that you would be paid by each piece made to their standards. That last phrase is crucial -- you are likely to find out that your work never ?meets their standards,? meaning that you will never be paid, and you have lost money paying for equipment.

? Be cautious of ads touting jobs for medical billing or coding -- again you are asked for a sum of money upfront for software and training, but you are unlikely to earn the salaries advertised because there are already a plethora of established companies providing medical billing services.

? Are you feeling pressured to act right away? If you are feeling pressured to say yes to a work at home job, it is very likely that you are being lured into a scam (especially if the other red flags are waving as well). Scams often prey on people?s insecurities and fears by making you feel that the opportunity will disappear soon. You should not feel pressured by an intense sales pitch.

Scams aside, the good news is that it is now easier than ever to get a work-from-home job. Legitimate work-at-home-jobs are being advertised through job sites like indeed.com. Use keyword searches like ?remote? and ?telecommute? to help locate these jobs. Another job portal is https://www.flexjobs.com/, which specializes in remote and flexible work.

If you?re currently in an office job, you could consider inching your way toward a work-from-home situation. Perhaps you could ask for one work-from-home day. My suggestion would be to think about a way in which working from home would be advantageous to your employer (we already know that you would benefit from working at home, but you need to sell your employer on the idea). Perhaps you could put forth the idea that you would get more done in the quiet of your home. Perhaps you could tackle a backlog of paperwork or a project that been sitting dormant for months because you lacked dedicated time.

When you broach the work-from-home topic with your employer, be prepared to discuss how the arrangement could work without inconvenience. For instance, think through the various ways you could communicate and attend meetings. In most instances, it doesn?t hurt to ask to work from home. If you are a valued employee, your employer might be willing to consider having you telecommute for part or even all your workdays.

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that more than half of self-employed workers and 20 percent of wage and salary employees work at home. These statistics show that working from home is more common than one might imagine. Perhaps you too could become part of this work from home workforce!


Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Fremont. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers and lives. You can reach her at annechantcv@gmail.com.

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