When Ordell took his first full-time college coaching position, we moved to a small town where job options were limited. Commuting was a possibility, but it wasn’t ideal, so when an administrative assistant position opened up on campus, I was happy to have something without a commute and consistent hours.
Once summer hit and campus emptied out I discovered that as grateful as I was for a job, I was not going to last long. I spent all seven hours of the day alternating between reading magazines, answering an occasional phone call, and making lists of all the things I needed to do once I was released from sitting at my desk. More than once I joked that if I could figure out how to forward the phone to my cell phone it would be the perfect job.
Fast Forward Fifteen Years
A fellow coach’s wife posted that the company she loved working for was hiring. After a few weeks, I decided to explore the opportunity. With her encouragement and guidance, two-weeks later accepted a contract with Belay Solutions as a virtual assistant. That was September of 2016, and since my first contract of 5 hours a week I’ve loved every minute of jobs.
I currently have 5 virtual clients and my average work week is about 40 hours.
- Two content writing contracts
- Two virtual assistant contracts
- One Contract as a Content Manager for an Inbound Marketing Agency
I have a lot on my plate each week, but each contract is one that I love, and the variety is a key part of what allows me to have all 5 contracts. Still, loving this opportunity doesn’t mean it is without stress.
My days are far from perfect, and I often feel my focus is unbalanced, but I also know from years in offices that either way I’d feel pulled in too many directions.
For me, the pros far outweigh the cons of working remotely.
Remote Work Pros
- I can take short breaks to keep up with things around the house. Whether it’s unloading the dishwasher or laundry, I’m easily able to keep up with house tasks.
- My days are flexible. The biggest example of this is that I don’t work Tuesday mornings 9 months of the year and instead, I participate in BSF. This means I work a long day on Mondays and a little later on Tuesdays, but it’s worth it.
- Whether it’s lunch with a girlfriend or greeting my husband on his lunch break, most of the time I take my lunch breaks when I want, and they are relaxing instead of spent squeezing in errands like I did when I worked in an office.
- I’m home for the boys. I’ve built into my schedule time to drop them at school, run them to activities and occasionally help at school. I’m also home to greet them when they arrive home from school.
- Yoga pants. I pretty much live in yoga pants, and I love it!
- Schedule flexibility. When I was in an office all day I had one option of when to exercise, and it was always earlier than I preferred. While I still wake up early to work out most days, what I do with that time varies. If the weather is going to be good, I’ll write in the morning before dropping the boys at school and take a walk afterward. I hated being forced to stay
- Workspace variety. Some days I’ll work from a coffee shop or outside. When we travel, I can work from a hotel just as easily as I can my desk at home.
- The biggest benefit is that as a coach’s wife, I felt strongly that I wanted a job that would allow me to be present for my kids when football travel takes Dad away. Not only does my current situation allow for that, but it also moves with us. It was so much easier to find housing with our last move because we knew what our full budget would be. It was awesome not having to job hunt in a new town too!
Remote Work Cons
- Less opportunity for promotions. In many cases, the virtual assistants are hired to be assistants, and that’s it. So if you are looking to work your way up in a company, this might not be a good option.
- Freelance work can be inconsistent. If you are looking for steady income, you may need to hustle depending on your career path.
- Vacation time is a challenge to get. If you can’t work it out with your client to flex your hours you may find yourself working a bit while on vacation or going without pay.
- Summer vacation from school means everyone is in my office all day.
- You may be competing with people overseas who will work for a much lower rate.
- Miscommunication can happen much easier over email, so it’s important to foster great communication relationships with your clients.
- You have to know how to market yourself or you will miss out on opportunities.
- Sometimes you need to work with the contract comes rather than when you prefer.
- I’m a contract worker, so there aren’t any health benefits or retirement plans. While I don’t mind this, it does make virtual work available for some people.
- You work alone a lot of the day. So if you have a hard time focusing or need a lot of people interaction you may feel isolated. I love having my space, so this isn’t an issue for me.
If you are considering pursuing working remotely, I suggest you do your research on companies first. Not all are equal, and there are definitely scams out there. My friend Rhonda has compiled an excellent set of resources to help you get your virtual assistant career off to a strong start. You can learn more about becoming a Virtual Assistant here.