There is little doubt that the coronavirus crisis has thrown the world into turmoil. Since the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, country after country announced various stages of lockdown, telling their citizens to stay home. Non-essential businesses told to shut their doors, which has led to the most significant global rise of work-from-home employees in history, even leading TIME Magazine to declare it the “world’s largest work from home experiment.” We will feel the impact of this crisis for years to come, but could part of the aftermath be a large-scale shift to working from home?
Before the Internet, working from home was an obscure reality that paid little and applied to very few. Then, since the Internet came along, email inboxes began to fill up with opportunities that were mostly scams, leaving the idea of working from home with a bad name. Pyramid schemes that made a few people rich while taking advantage of people who probably couldn’t afford to be taken advantage of. Check-cashing programmes, jobs that required the purchase of expensive software or media packages. Working from home soon became a euphemism for being promised the world while being fleeced of your hard-earned money.
Since those early days, however, technology has advanced to the point that real work from home opportunities exist. And not just for people looking to break out of the nine to five grind; many employers are allowing their staff to carry out their duties from home. Granted, the early-Internet dream of “making money in your sleep” is all but dead, but making money through hard work and determination from the comfort of your own home? That is a very attainable goal. Freelancing platform, Upwork, even performed a study that predicted over half of the workforce would freelance in the next decade. Now, granted, Upwork has a vested interest in that prediction coming true, what with their business being all about bringing work from home freelancers together with people who need work doing. Still, it’s a prediction that certainly seems consistent with the world we live in right now.
Work From Home Jobs
The range of opportunities to earn money from home in 2020 is almost limitless. The connectivity that comes with the Internet has created a situation where any need can be brought together with someone who can fulfil that need, no matter how obscure. But there are, nevertheless, a core of particularly successful job types in the work from home space.
The ever-changing landscape of Internet-connected technology has led to a world in which websites are continually being revamped to take advantage of the latest tricks. And with more and more people starting businesses of their own, the demand for website designers seems to be stronger than ever.
From the work from home perspective, web design is a job that can be carried out entirely from a home office or even a kitchen counter with a laptop. Face to face meetings are often necessary, of course, but COVID-19 is showing the world that video calls are a perfectly functional alternative to meeting in the flesh. Around 16% of all web developers in 2018 were self-employed, and it’s a safe bet that a lot of them were working from home.
Quite possibly the most popular—and most competitive—area of the work from home industry. Freelance writing typically caters to writers of all skill levels, from 30-40 word product descriptions to technical white papers requiring doctorate-levels of knowledge. Writing jobs can also come in gig form, where new jobs are listed publicly, and any writers on the platform who have met any requirements laid out by the platform can take those jobs on a first-come-first-serve basis.
It would be tempting to break this category into smaller pieces (YouTuber, Blogger, Twitch Streamer, etc), but, ultimately, they are all doing the same broad thing; creating content. Online creators have something to share that people are willing to watch, and in the process, generate ad revenue, or buy merchandise, or even just donate money. The scope for working from home as an online creator varies from a little extra income up to millionaire status, but this line of work isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have anything to say, or you don’t have the charisma or talent to attract an audience, then becoming an online creator is a dead-end from a career-perspective.
In the pantheon of work from home jobs, data entry is possibly the most “entry-level” job there is. In terms of skills, it often requires little more than the ability to read and type. Data may come in the form of scanned documents or other kinds of images. This kind of work is not the most stimulating, and certainly not the highest paying, but for those looking to get out of the traditional employment market, it is a very viable option.
Social Media Guru
As with online content creators, this is something of a specialist line of work that won’t suit everyone, but for those it does suit, it can be both an enjoyable and lucrative occupation. Managing social media accounts for large companies might involve tweeting or posting images to Instagram. They will look for a social media manager to create engaging content to increase their business’ reach, so as you might imagine, there’s something of an art to doing it well. Merely being able to think of funny things to tweet won’t necessarily be enough.
One of the unintended consequences of this devastating crisis could well be a boom in the work from home industry. Both as a result of workers realising that it is a feasible way to earn a living, but also from employers realising that letting their employees work from home can not only be a workable state of affairs but in some cases, an improvement over the traditional model.
Only time will tell if the trend continues or gets a boost from the current crisis, but early signs indeed point towards a much larger work from home industry when the COVID-19 dust has settled.