Lydia Chang has always thought of her husband’s father as her own. When a cancer diagnosis forced him to sell his business and meant that he needed a caregiver, she volunteered to help.
A few decades ago, a person in Chang’s position would have had to quit working altogether in order to look after their loved one. However, the proliferation of the internet and mobile technology has enabled millions to “telecommute” or work from a location other than a centralized office (typically the home).
Fortunately, Chang found a solution that enabled her to care for her father-in-law and remain in the workforce. She has been telecommuting for over a decade as a freelance customer service agent for Arise Virtual Solutions, a company that provides outsourced contact center services for major corporations.
The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting
For family caregivers, telecommuting can offer some serious advantages. Flexibility is one of the primary benefits of remote working, according to Carlos Soto, director of sourcing for Arise. He also cites the time and money that can be saved by not having to get dressed up and commute to work every day as added advantages.
Time and money are two things caregivers often have in short supply, so a job that enables them to have more of both is a definite win-win.
“It’s the best choice,” Chang says of telecommuting. “Working from home allows you the flexibility to schedule your time around your loved one’s needs.”
Telecommuters also don’t have to worry about dipping into their sick days or paid time off in order to ferry a loved one to and from doctor’s appointments and rehabilitation sessions, and they don’t have to worry about how to talk to their boss about caregiving.
The biggest benefit for Chang? “Having the ability to spend quality time with my father-in-law.”
However, there are challenges that come with working from home while caregiving. It’s imperative that a caregiver is able to set aside time that is free from distraction—a difficult thing to do when a care recipient has dementia or needs help on an almost constant basis.
Chang says it can be tricky, even with the inherent flexibility of telecommuting, to make sure her schedule accommodates everything she needs to accomplish during the day. Self-discipline and thorough organizational techniques help her manage her time and priorities effectively.
She must also make efforts to prevent the challenges of caregiving from negatively influencing her work performance. “I have to be careful not to let caregiving affect my ability to stay upbeat, cheery and fully focused on the clients,” she says.
5 Work-from-Home Jobs for Caregivers
There’s practically no limit on what kinds of jobs offer work-from-home options. Before starting your search, it’s best to pinpoint your strengths and interests so you can find a job that aligns well with them.
Here are five examples of jobs you can do from home:
- Freelance writer, editor, artist, etc. A freelancer is typically a self-employed professional who isn’t bound to work for one particular company over an extended period. Freelancing allows you the freedom to choose which short-term jobs and projects you’re willing and able to take on. Numerous online directories post freelance jobs, and Elance.com is one such resource that has received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- Online tutor. If you have a background in teaching or you just enjoy helping other people learn, taking a job as a virtual tutor could be a good fit. Websites such as TutorMe (BBB Accredited with an A+ rating) offer tutoring options for grade school kids all the way up to young adults who need help with college-level courses.
- Translator. Are you bilingual? International companies often jump at the chance to have their written materials translated into multiple languages. Web directories for freelance work typically include a section for online translation job postings.
- Online shop owner. If you’re an artist, craftsperson or designer who’s always wanted to open up your own store, look no further than the internet. Sites such as Etsy and Ebay (both of which are BBB Accredited with an A+ rating) offer the opportunity to sell your wares online. Etsy is an online marketplace that allows virtual storeowners to sell handmade crafts and vintage items, whereas Ebay is more of a catch-all online marketplace. These sites typically charge users a small fee to set up shop and post their products, or take a percentage of a product’s eventual selling price.
- Customer service representative. In addition to working with companies such as Arise, you can also seek out opportunities with individual corporations to provide remote customer service and technical help.
Be Savvy about Online Employment Opportunities
You should always exercise caution when seeking work-at-home employment opportunities. The telecommuting world is rife with scammers seeking to obtain access to unsuspecting job hunters’ personal and financial information.
Be wary of any company that promises you’ll “get rich quick” by working for them part-time. Companies that require significant amounts of unpaid training or ask you to spend money to apply for a position should also be considered untrustworthy.
Even if an offer seems legitimate, it may not be. A site or email may seem trustworthy, but it could be the work of “phishers”—scammers who attempt to gain personal information by imitating a legitimate person or organization. Fraudulent websites that mimic those of authentic companies try to convince job hunters to fork over sensitive personal information like their Social Security numbers by claiming to have job offers.
It can be difficult to spot a fake job post. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers a few tips for keeping yourself safe while searching for work online:
- Consult your local consumer protection offices and the BBB to double-check a potential employer’s legitimacy.
- Remember, authentic employers will never ask for money up front or bank account information so they can “direct deposit your paycheck” before your first official day of work.
- As always, the best rule of thumb is to avoid giving out personal information over the Internet unless there is no doubt that the job offer is coming from a trustworthy source.