Telecommuting has many benefits for both employees and employers. It helps workers save time and money and gain more flexibility, and it can increase a company's efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint.
Yet the concept is still catching on in the corporate world. According to the latest American Community Survey data, slightly more than 2.5 percent of the U.S. workforce considers home their primary place of work. So while it may seem like a challenge to identify telecommuting jobs, by doing the right research and asking the right questions, you can find a position that matches your interests and desired working accommodations.
Look for telecommuting-friendly occupations
While every company, no matter the field, differs in their flexible-working policies, some industries tend to have more teleworking staff. "Some industries are better suited for telecommuting than others," says Kari DePhillips, owner of content-development company Content Factory, whose entire team works remotely. "[Telecommuting-friendly industries include] graphic design, public relations, social-media marketing, writing and website development. In general, I think tech and startup companies are most likely to be open to the idea of telecommuting."
You may also have an easier chance of finding telecommuting roles by looking for contract or freelance positions. "Since you'll likely be commissioned for particular projects, employers are open to allowing independent contractors to turn in work projects digitally and communicate via social media, i.e., Skype," says Sudy Bharadwaj, co-founder and CEO of job-search platform Jackalope Jobs.
Do the right research
To find jobs, go to a job-search website such as CareerBuilder and use the "keyword" search function. Christine Durst, a telecommuting and home-based career expert and author of "The 2-Second Commute" and "Work At Home Now," suggests using words and phrases including:
- Independent contractor
- Work from home
- Work from anywhere
- "This is a telecommuting position"
- "This is a remote position"
- "This is a home-based position"
- "Will have the option to work from home"
- "Offsite position"
- "Qualified individual will work from home"
- "Must be willing to work from home"
- "This is a work-from-home position"
- "May work from anywhere"
- "This is a virtual position"
- "Our employees work from home"
- "Position can be based anywhere"
If a company doesn't explicitly say in the job posting that it's open to telecommuting, that doesn't mean it won't allow for a more flexible work schedule. So if you're really interested in a position, don't count it out. Use the interview as a time to take the company's pulse on teleworking preferences.
"When interviewing, ask the hiring manager about the company's policy on telecommuting," says Amit De, CEO and co-founder of job-search platform Careerleaf. "If the company has a strict anti-telecommuting policy, the position's probably not a great fit for you. Just be sure that the focus of the interview doesn't remain on telecommuting. Ultimately, you still need to get hired before you can consider telecommuting."
Keep an open mind
Even if a job doesn't offer telecommuting at first, there's always the chance that, under the right circumstances, your boss will be open to the idea of a more flexible work schedule. "The key is to come with suggestions as to what tools you'll use to turn in work and interface with co-workers when work needs to get done," Bharadwaj says. "Outline practical ways to ensure your productivity, and give examples that note your sensitivity to deadlines, since with telecommuting you'll need to be a self-starter to accomplish tasks without being micromanaged."