Guest Post by Jenn Marie
When I first heard about Workathomesuccess.com, I was a disabled mother looking for online employment. I had no actual experience other than writing and customer service, and I figured I’d never find online work. When I saw a news story about Leslie on a Richmond, VA news broadcast, I was filled with hope – yet I didn’t know where to begin. Eight years later, I am now a full-time work from home professional – much of which is due to this site. I now work as a freelancing coach, and product specialist for a Silicon Valley based startup (and yes, they are hiring). It seemed only fitting that I share some of the tips I have learned.
Treat Your Job like a Job
It doesn’t matter if you are working for yourself or for a large company – you will need to treat what you do as seriously as if you were working outside the home. This is especially true when working as a receptionist or customer care associate. When you work from home, your office becomes a virtual extension of the business you represent. This means you are responsible for maintaining requirements that the client deems necessary. This may mean a faster internet connection, more modern computer, or quiet work-space. When at home, it’s easy to lose track of the big picture- especially when family life is occurring just outside of your office door – but you have to communicate the fact that office hours mean office hours. (This is true even if the office is in your kitchen…)
Become Very Familiar With Email
When you are working from home, you cannot expect your manager to call you every time you need something. This is especially true when your job involves answering the phones. That’s why you will need to become very familiar with emails and email etiquette. If you haven’t already, create a professional email address that you use for communicating with clients. If you are working for a company that provides email access, check it at least twice a day. This is the best way to stay connected with your managers and ensure you know what you are supposed to be doing.
For many administrative professionals, it is counter intuitive to ask a lot of questions. However, when you work from home, it is an absolute must. Asking questions lets your manager know you understand exactly what is expected of you, and it also gives them a chance to clear any misunderstandings. The hard fact is, for many companies, virtual employees are not given the benefit of the doubt. That’s why, when you aren’t able to meet face-to-face, you need to focus on gaining as much clarity as possible.
Be Responsive and Visible
Many companies employ numerous types of methods to ensure you are working. They may do things like:
● Require screenshots
● Utilize online job timers
● Check login activity
● Require webcam meetings
● Schedule regular calls
If they do, make sure you do it. While these may seem like little things, they are what companies use to ensure you are working. Let’s face it, they can’t see you, which makes many employers nervous. No one wants to pay someone that isn’t actually working, being visible makes it easier for them to trust you.
Buy the Best Equipment
Part of being a successful work from home employee is taking the time to create a productive work environment. This includes supplies that help you get work done, as well as those that help make work more fun. If your employer does not provide a computer, consider investing in one that has ample RAM and a fast processor. You may even want to consider purchasing business–grade internet or even a backup internet setup in case there is an outage. Many employers also require webcams, and some might require professional headsets. It’s understandable that you may not want to spend the money before you make money, but if you want to be successful, some investment is necessary. I mean, if you think about it, you are saving a lot of money on gas, clothes, and food. Don’t be afraid to spend money making your office comfortable. I personally have nice office amenities such as:
● Coffee pot
● Heated desk
● Streaming Internet music
● Customer Service themed incense holder for office ‘yen’
I even have a small trampoline. I believe that qualifies as ‘workout facilities.’
Realize the Competition is Stiff
Thanks to people like Leslie, working from home has become incredibly easy to do. The bad part is, there are plenty of people that are willing to do it. If you want to be successful, you will need to deliver your ‘A Game’ each and every time. As a hiring manager for Smith.ai – an answering service for SMB and busy professionals, I have seen numerous virtual receptionist hopefuls fail to understand the importance of professional etiquette, responsiveness, visibility, communication, and following through on commitments. The mistake many of these applicants make is not taking the role seriously, when working online it is very easy to be replaced – perhaps even more so than in traditional office jobs. It’s important to realize that the internet is the great equalizer. Many will have the opportunity to be successful, but only the best will actually follow through.
Jenn Marie is the product specialist, and receptionist trainer for Smith.ai, a virtual answering solution. They are currently recruiting US-based virtual receptionists for part time work from home. Learn more about the position and apply online through this link.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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