Before the health crisis of 2020, having the flexibility to work from home was considered an enviable perk. Now that society is adjusting to more consistent remote work, some people are looking to make the change permanent.
After all, the benefits of working from home are abundant: higher productivity, better work/life balance, more family time, and time gained back from commuting, just to name a few.
It seems likely that work from home jobs will be considered much more mainstream after the dust settles around COVID-19, but until that societal shift happens, how do you find a new job that is entirely remote? It almost sounds too good to be true.
Here’s the reality: you can find a work from home job that pays competitively, frees up your loyalty to one particular location (great news for would-be travelers), and affords you decent work/life balance. You just have to know where to look.
Types of work from home (WFH) jobs
The million dollar question: If you could design your dream remote job, what would it look like?
If you’ve always been the kind of person to work for one company for long stretches of time, the concept of different job structures might be hard to wrap your mind around. Life outside the cubicle is inherently more flexible, but generally remote jobs fall into a few categories.
Working remotely full-time for one company (W-2 or contract)
Working remotely full-time for one company – whether it’s a W2 employee or contactor – is the option that’s most similar to working 9-5 in a typical office environment.
If you have a full-time remote job, your work week will follow your company’s mandated office hours, your PTO will be in line with their vacation policies, and in most cases, you’ll receive some sort of healthcare and retirement benefits as part of your compensation package.
Full-time remote positions are often considered the gold standard of work because they come with all the security of an office job but afford the creature comforts of home.
Freelance or contract work for multiple clients (full- or part-time)
Freelancers and contractors tend to work for multiple businesses concurrently, and their workload can change drastically from month-to-month depending on client needs and new business.
Contractors tend to experience less shifts in their schedule because they partner with one or two clients at a time for longer stretches – a few months to a year. Alternatively, freelancers can pick up and complete work ad-hoc, feeding the “feast and famine” cycle many solo workers struggle to overcome.
There are many pros to freelance and contract work, however. For one, you’re not beholden to an office or manager, just your client, so you can choose your hours as you please.
As your own boss, you set your vacation time, how much you want to pay for your insurance, and your own rates. You can even give yourself a raise, if you think you deserve it!
As a freelancer, you’re completely in charge of the work you do and how you complete your tasks, but you also own all of the accountability and responsibility for gaining new business.
Piecemeal gigs or alternate income
If you’re not seeking a full-time job but are genuinely interested in how you might make a few bucks from your couch, you probably fall into this camp.
It’s possible to pick up $20-$50 here and there completing surveys online, reviewing apps, doing Fiverr gigs, or participating in market research groups.
With a bit more effort, you can sell used items like electronics or gently-worn clothes to resale outlets. Those who are creative can sell their art as digital prints or offer their photography to stock photo sites for cash.
With side gigs like this, you can put in as many hours as you’d like, but you’re unlikely to reap as rich a return on your investment as you might from working directly with a client or company.
How to find remote jobs
So where can you find and apply for work from home jobs?
There are two paths when it comes to sourcing full-time remote positions: either you know what company you want to work for and are hoping they have remote opportunities, or you know what kind of work you want to do but you don’t have a particular company in mind.
Either way, you’ll want to do some digging to find good matches for your skills and passions. Here are some general tips for searching traditional job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, or ZipRecruiter.
- When choosing your location, look for a “remote only” option.
This option is often hidden alongside major cities, but if you select “remote” when performing your searches, you’ll weed out any positions that aren’t relevant to your needs.
- Look at all the active listings for companies you’re interested in.
If you have your heart set on a particular company, it can be worth it to explore all of their current job openings (even for positions you’re not going to be applying for).
Do they offer remote options for any teams or roles? If so, you may be able to do some digging to find out if they’d be willing to extend that option to your ideal position. If not, you know that company may not be the best fit for your ideal working situation.
- Try searching for alternate job titles to ensure you’re viewing all potential matches.
This is universal advice, but frustratingly, not everyone uses the same terminology to describe the work they do.
For example, one company might consider social media management to be posting and responding to messages, while another might define a similar role as including ads and audience generation.
By expanding your searches with related terms, you’ll get a better understanding of the overall market and double-check that you haven’t missed out on any mislabeled opportunities. In short, titles aren’t always a perfect match for a job’s actual responsibilities!
- Know that competition is high. Like, really high.
There’s a reason that full-time work from home positions are revered. They don’t come easy!
Traditionally, most companies keep the majority of their workforce in a central headquarters, and some employees may have the option of telecommuting. This means that for major brands, competition for WFH positions is fierce – even more so than a traditional office position.
Best online job boards for remote work
If a cursory search through Indeed doesn’t do it for you, don’t fret – traditional job sites are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sourcing a work from home job.
There are plenty of remote-centric job boards that cater to would-be full-time workers, freelancers, contractors, and gig workers. These are some of the best places to find consistent work that can all be done from the comfort of your home:
- FlexJobs — Flexjobs is the biggest site for hand-screened, flexible full-time and part-time job openings. Because their listings are so high-quality, they charge $14.99/month for access to their service. (Personally, I’ve had great luck with FlexJobs in the past!)
- Jobspresso — This site boasts an expertly curated job board full of tech, marketing, and customer support positions. And it’s all free! Take note that some positions are “featured,” i.e. businesses paying for ad space.
- We Work Remotely — If you’re looking for a site that caters to digital nomads and wants companies that are remote-first (rather than just tolerant of remote work), you’ve come to the right place. Here you can find tons of jobs across industries like design, business, finance, and sales.
- Remote.co — This site pledges to embrace companies that see remote work as an opportunity. Remote employers can find resources here, list jobs, and would-be remote workers can feel confident in the featured job listings.
- JustRemote.co — Search through a comprehensive database of fully and partially-remote positions in business, customer services, development, design, recruiting, and social media, just to name a few.
- NODESK — Just like its namesake, NODESK celebrates digital nomads who take their work with them. Their job board features a selection of full-time, part-time, contract, and freelance opportunities.