When Ordell took his first full-time college coaching position, we moved to a small town with limited job options. Commuting was possible, but it wasn’t ideal because it would have greatly extended the workday and increased our expenses. So when an administrative assistant position opened up on campus, I was happy to have an opportunity to contribute to our costs even though the job wasn’t ideal.
Once summer hit and campus emptied, I discovered that as grateful as I was for a job, I spent seven hours a day alternating between reading magazines, answering an occasional phone call, and making lists of all the things I needed to do once the workday was over.
The justification for requiring me to sit at a desk was that there needed to be someone around if a parent called with a question for student development. 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.
Remote Work is More Accessible Now Days
Several job changes later for both Ordell and me, I found myself needing a job with flexible hours. A fellow coach’s wife posted that the company she loved working for was hiring remote workers. After a few conversations, 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 with each of my clients.
Over the years, my contracts have evolved and shifted. For example, I’ve had contracts end as clients have moved on to different roles or have found the services unaffordable. I also had a client buy out a contract.
While the majority of my day is now spent focused on my role in digital marketing, my forty contracted hours are divided between a few different contracts. I’m considered self-employed even though each contract is negotiated differently. The one constant is that I work 100% remotely.
I have a lot to balance each week, but I’ve worked in this line of work long enough that I’m selective about my contracts. I enjoy each client I work with, and I prefer the variety in my schedule rather than the monotony I’ve experienced with previous jobs.
I’ve had to learn to set different boundaries, how to manage my time, and I’ve also had to figure out which clients I work best with and which aren’t best for my schedule. With that primer in mind, here’s my list of the pros and cons of remote work.
Pros of Working Remotely
- Working remotely allows me flexiblity to keep up with things around the house. Whether I take a few minutes to unload the dishwasher or start a load of laundry, it’s easier to keep up with household tasks.
- My days are flexible. Generally, I set my schedule so I work a four day work week. If I work Fridays it’s to catch up on overflow tasks.
- 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 when my boys are home. When they were younger I built time into my calendar to allow for drop off and pick up. Now, I’m also home to greet them when they arrive home from school or head out an athletic event after school.
- Yoga pants. I pretty much live in yoga pants and t-shirts and I love it!
- I can prioritize exercise. When I was in an office all day I had one option of when to exercise, and it was always earlier than I preferred. Now that I don’t have a commute I can sleep in longer and I can even flex my workout times if I have a late night.
- 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. This means I’m in control of my paycheck and my timeoff.
- The biggest benefit is that my job moves with me. This means when we’re looking at different job possibilities we can factor my income into our conversation rather than hoping something will come along.
Cons of Working Remotely
- Since most remote work is contract work there is often fewer opportunities for promotions. In many cases, the virtual assistants are hired to be assistants, and that’s it. If you are looking to work your way up in a company, this might not be a good option unless you are working for a company that has a strong remote work culture.
- 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 sometimes a challenge. 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. Remember, contracted employees are paid for the hours they work.
- Summer vacation from school means everyone is in my office all day. If you have younger kids you may need to hire help or work odd hours when school is on break.
- You may be competing with people overseas who will work for a much lower rate.
- It’s easier for miscommunication to occur over email and longer to clear up. 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 across your desk rather than when you prefer.
Some Remote Work Pros and Cons Depending On Your Personality
- I’m a contract worker, so there aren’t any health benefits or retirement plans. While I don’t mind this, it means that remote work isn’t available for everyone.
- You work alone a lot of the day. So if you have a hard time focusing or need a lot of interaction with other people you may feel isolated. I love having an independent routine, and touching base with people throughout the day. 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 of VA-Elevated 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.
Not interested in virtual assistant work? There are thousands of remote work options nowadays. Everything from tutoring to matchmaking is accessible. Learn more about your options by reviewing my comprehensive list.
Are you Thriving in the Fullness of Your Calling?
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 17, 2018, and has been updated in October 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.