As remote work becomes more and more normal, I’m always curious how other people are dealing with it, what they get out of it, with different jobs, in different industries and personal situations. It’s not just idle curiosity: other perspectives are one quick way to broaden your horizon and figure out which of your challenges are unique to your space, and which aren’t. For example, here is an article about remote work in real estate, where they face the issue of constant rejection—alone. An industry that is used to remote working is writing. Naturally, I asked our content write Chenzi if she’d be up to share her experience of remote work. She was happy to—and reading her article I understand why. – Murat
When I had Gab, I knew instantly that I wanted to be a full-time mom. In fact, many young mothers find no better recourse due to the challenges we face at work, such as inadequate parent-friendly working arrangements and poor work-life balance.
Being there for my child in those early stages was important for me as well as beneficial for him.
So I quit my regular day job and turned to telecommuting (working from home). In a span of four years, I’ve worked with digital agencies and clients based in the United Kingdom, Australia and NewZealand. And just recently, I signed a contract gig with engageSPARK.
It’s fantastic to live in an era where single moms like me can build a career and run a household at the same time.
What remote workers enjoy
This is the top telecommuting benefit for me. Babies don’t follow a schedule, so I feel grateful that my work-at-home schedule gives me full reins over my time. I could pick up my laptop while the baby sleeps, and do some house chores in between. I could even work while nursing!
With the sleepless nights and the exhaustion of mothering, I was glad to not have quotas to meet by 5 pm. Know, though, that I was blessed to have supportive and reasonable clients. I think this is a big factor to my work at home success.
In general, remote jobs offer higher rates for any skill. Whether you’re a software engineer or a nurse, you are likely to be paid more for less of your time. As reported by Glassdoor, the highest paid online jobs are:
- Physician ($119,000 – $303,000)
- Senior software engineer ($94,000 – $166,000)
- Client services director ($76,000 – $160,000)
- UX (user experience) designer ($62,000 – $130,000)
- Full stack web developer ($50,000 – $117,000)
- Project manager ($51,000 – $110,000)
- Business development manager ($49,000 – $119,000)
- Accountant ($40,000 – $77,000)
- Account manager ($39,000 – $90,000)
- Graphic designer ($34,000 – $69,000)
Of course, the salary range varies regionally. We don’t get those figures here in the Philippines, but me and other remote workers I know are earning two or three times more than our cubicle-bound peers.
Some clients pay me on an hourly basis, others on a per-article basis. Either way, I made more than a day’s worth in any of my previous job. Considering that I didn’t have to pay for taxi rides, lunches and babysitting, I was making good money.
In this gig economy, you can charge higher as your work experience and portfolio expands. That’s something you can’t easily do in a regular employment setting.
Cover employment gap
Many work at home parents have intentions to rejoin the rat race at some point. Working a remote job allows you to keep one foot in the professional world without missing any of your child’s early milestones. The transition to a full-time desk job will be easier, too.
Being a work at home parent allows me to maximize my time. When you don’t have to pick an outfit and do your makeup every day, you get more work done. And those are two less decisions to make.
To be fair, some virtual jobs involve client calls over Skype, so you’re still required to wear your corporate look to work. But, at least, you’re not wasting time sitting in traffic.
Remote work benefits employers, too. It enables businesses to downsize their operations and save up to $11,000 a year per employee.
Parenting is stressful enough. So any job that doesn’t double the weight on my shoulders is very much appreciated. Working from home, I could take naps whenever my body asks for it. I could take more breaks to bond with my little guy. At the end of the day, I’m still exhausted but my heart is full. I don’t have that mom guilt about missing out on any bonding moment.
But wait, remote work has its own unique challenges, too.
Without dedication and a big dose of self-discipline, the single-mum work at home juggle will be a struggle. Remote jobs are also professional-level work where you are expected to deliver results and value to your client.
I’ve missed deadlines because my child fell ill or something important came up. The clients I worked for always understood, but not all of them will. But it’s important to keep them informed about what’s happening on your side, rather than keeping them guessing and waiting.
Another challenge for me was maintaining structure in my life that will allow me to balance work and parenting. The monotony of a home-bound career can take a toll on your social life, even your sense of self. It’s easy to feel isolated and to question your decision whenever you see your friends posting their latest corporate outing or team dinner. Even so, there are now dozens of online communities for freelancers which you can join for support.
As a free agent, it’s your job to find your employer. I had it easy, because clients always find me through referrals. Otherwise, you need to get yourself out there and put effort into building an impressive portfolio. Polish your LinkedIn profile. Sign up to sites like Upwork and Hubstaff. Reach out to potential companies and send a stellar proposal.
Is remote work fit for all single parents?
If you have a skill, I say bank on it. The remote work sphere has opportunities for everyone. If you want to take control over your career track and pace, this is for you.
The success of your foray into remote work also depends on your personality type and your line of work. Some of us can’t fathom getting work done with the baby nearby and all our comforts within an arm’s reach. Others struggle to stay focused among the office chatter and frequent staff meetings. For writers like me, I need a chunk of uninterrupted time to create a quality article. The same goes for web developers. Assess your time commitment realistically. Will you be able to produce what you’re asked with the time you have?
Finally, your goals and priorities in life will decide whether you’ll thrive as a remote worker. My son loves it that I work remotely (even if he doesn’t know it). His happiness is my goal. So, in my case, I am one fulfilled mom.
Chenzi May is a freelance web content writer and a blog contributor. She helps blogs and business websites sparkle with well-researched, brand-consistent copy. She writes on any subject but particularly likes writing about food, finance, and business.