How Work From Home Jobs Work

By Tracie Chancellor

For individuals considering a career transition away from the corporate office environment, it is important to know how to work from home jobs work before taking the leap. Many of the skill sets and ground rules will remain the same but could require more attention to detail when working from home.  By learning about the skills needed, creating a proper home office, and understanding how payment works, job seekers can feel more confident about how work from home jobs work.

Skill Sets Needed to Work From Home

Make no mistake about it, work from home jobs require a polished skill set to ensure success for both them and their employers.  While different jobs may require different skill sets, some universal skills typically expected of those who work from home consist of:

  • Proficiency in basic computer skills. This usually entails a background of several years or more experience of operating common computer programs.
  • Excellent communication skills. One of the most difficult aspects of having workers work offsite can be the lack of person-to-person communication. To help shore up those deficiencies, those of us who work from home must excel in phone, email, and virtual communication.
  • Being a self-starter. It can be challenging to set a work schedule and stick to it when working from home. A late night may have you thinking about going back to bed instead of starting work.  To be successful a contract worker, or employee, who works from home, one must be motivated . . . and disciplined.
  • People skills. Despite working from home, away from a corporate office environment, workers are still required to have excellent people skills. This will lend itself to cold calling, appointment setting, meetings, and more. A caller with a polite and warm demeanor puts employers at ease and can make prospects more receptive.
  • Basic administrative skills. This includes good typing, editing, grammar and punctuation skills, as well as the ability to store, retrieve, and manage files and information.

Home Office Set-Up Tips

Regardless of the type of work from home job an individual has, many of the home office components are the same and can include:

  • A current laptop or computer. Either is fine although a laptop will give you more flexibility if you need to work away from home.
  • Commonly used computer programs. These programs generally include those that are used somewhat universally such as email, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Adobe PDF Reader.
  • Dependable and fast internet connection. This is a must. Most work from home jobs consists of working and communicating online. Neither of these activities is possible if an individual has a slow speed or intermittent internet connection.
  • A USB headset with a microphone. Much of a work from home person’s client communication is conducted via phone. Utilizing a USB headset with a microphone should ensure communication is clear and effortless as well as freeing up your hands while you are on the call.
  • Virtual Meeting Programs. When not located together in an office setting, communication between employers and those working for them becomes even more important. Expect to be asked to check-in for virtual meetings with employers or clients via applications such as Zoom or Skype. Have access to these programs and understand how to properly use them.
  • A reliable printer. There are times when an electronic copy of something simply will not do and a hard copy is required. For this reason, it is recommended to have regular access to a reliable printer.
  • A designated working area. Whether a person works best from a typical desk, the kitchen table, or folded up in a chair with a lap desk, it is crucial that they have a designated working area that is designed to meet the needs of their work from home job.

Although many of these office supplies are things that most Americans already have in their home, some additional purchases may be necessary. Many persons who work from home are hired as contract workers rather than as employees, and it is worth mentioning that most companies do not pay for home office supplies.

Regardless of what environment a work from home worker chooses to operate in on a day to day basis, they must find or create a quiet and professional corner of their home for the purpose of virtual meetings in which their work environment can be seen.

How Work From Home Jobs Work With Payment

In most work from home jobs, workers are paid hourly. Depending on the company, these hours could remain the same each week or fluctuate. Most employers will require that their workers work at least a minimum number of hours each week. Others may encourage them to go above and beyond by rewarding them with extra hours of work and cash incentives. As with any job, contract workers or employees, are paid for the hours worked based on a predetermined number of hours each month.

In other types of work from home jobs, particularly those involving the sales process (selling, setting appointments, etc.) persons are typically paid for performance rather than hourly.  Some employers offer a base hourly rate plus a commission.  There are many ways compensation can be arranged, so be sure to understand how the pay system of any company you are considering works before accepting the position.

The frequency and delivery of payment vary. Employers who hire workers who work from home may deliver payments electronically or via mail monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or some other cycle. So, be sure to verify this information with an employer at the time of hiring. In addition, taxes and withholdings vary depending on the type of position you are considering.

Benefits of Work From Home Jobs

As we’ve pointed out, there are many ways in which work from home jobs work similarly to corporate office jobs. However, there are a few benefits and perks of working from home, including:

  • No commute time
  • Smaller office wardrobe
  • Customized and personalized work environment
  • Flexibility in hours and work location

Learning how work from home jobs work can make job seekers more prepared as they enter the world of working from home, thereby setting them up for success.


Q: Do work from home jobs pay the same as in-office jobs?

A:  Some do, some don’t.  It depends on the nature of the work, the employer, and the applicant’s experience and expected contribution.

Tracie Chancellor
Latest posts by Tracie Chancellor (see all)

Q: Will my employer pay for my home office supplies?

A:  Most employers require work from home workers to finance home office equipment and supplies themselves.

Tracie Chancellor
Latest posts by Tracie Chancellor (see all)

Q: What special skills do I need to work from home?

A:  While basic skills are required, special skills can include motivation, communication, and discipline

Tracie Chancellor
Latest posts by Tracie Chancellor (see all)

Q: Can I work from home with kids?

A:  Yes, as long as you are able to conduct yourself professionally during phone calls and virtual meetings and still get your work done.  Just as important, the children must not be heard by the prospect on the other end of the call.

Tracie Chancellor
Latest posts by Tracie Chancellor (see all)

Q: If I work from home do I have to pay self-employment taxes?

A:  Employers of independent contractors typically don’t withhold any taxes from paychecks which means the worker takes care of all of his or her own tax issues, but consult with your employer to find out if your work from home job requires you to do so.

Tracie Chancellor
Latest posts by Tracie Chancellor (see all)
Tracie Chancellor
Latest posts by Tracie Chancellor (see all)