By Guest Blogger Paula Reuben Vieillet, President and Founder, Employment Options Inc.
It is no secret that work-at-home jobs offer unique opportunities for job seekers with disabilities and other challenges. After all, it is an “accommodation-ready” environment with no travel or fashion costs.
That being said, it is still working at home and that can seem daunting. We asked two of our long-term work-at-home clients, Qiana from New York and Mary from Colorado, to answer a few important questions to get an insider’s perspective.
How did you handle the transition of going back to work and it being at home?
“The transition to work-at-home was a smooth one. It was actually the route that I wanted to take for a long time. I already had a home office set up. I just had to get a few items depending on the qualifications for different jobs.” (Qiana)
“I handled the transition very well. I had an office in my home already that I shared with my husband so it was perfect to make that mostly my own. I had always worked part-time in the past, so telling family and friends was not a big deal. They were all happy that I was working again.” (Mary)
How does your shift work in terms of hours, breaks and flexibility?
“In my previous care navigator position, which I held for two years, I worked Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch. In my brand-new position, I am in social media evaluation now and I am starting out with a flexible schedule as long as I get the projects finished between a certain time frame each day. This is mostly a non-phone position.” (Qiana)
“My hours have pretty much been my own choice, which is great! I start early and get off early. Breaks are for 10 minutes every two to two-and-a-half hours and lunch is half an hour off the clock after five hours. When I log on, my hours are automatically calculated. I have been with the same company over four years!” (Mary)
What do you actually do during the work hours?
“In my previous care navigator position, in addition to taking calls, I would send reports and emails pertaining to call issues and do follow-ups. On the phone, I had to say the required greeting and ask the caller certain things: name, where did they find the company (via an ad, business ad, TV ad, Internet), what is their medical issue, what kind of help are they looking for and then give them information on the programs that the company provides. I also asked what kind of insurance do they have already and if it will match with our programs. Also, we did surveys of the help that the caller received a week after the call.” (Qiana)
On some days, the calls come back to back, like Mondays, and other days a few minutes go in between. Some days are for sure busier than others, but never more than can be handled. I currently take calls as a call agent on different accounts and handle the questions accordingly. Like orders and questions, it just depends on the account.” (Mary)
How do you feel about the virtual interaction with people?
“I personally am a people person and enjoy rising up to the challenge of the call. I relate to people over the phone and I am usually able to handle a situation even if the person on the line is upset about something.” (Mary)
“The interaction with people can go either way in my position. We answer calls for a hotline number that is on all of the advertisements for the company. People call the care navigation line for everything and sometimes get a little upset if we cannot ‘immediately’ help them or transfer them to another line.
You try to explain to them that this is the incorrect number and give them the correct one for their records. For the care calls, sometimes you can get agitated people if they are dealing with the elderly or you can get very agitated people that are having problems with their services from the company and have been transferred many times.
Satisfaction comes from whenever I can help someone get something accomplished that they called in for, when people say ‘thank you, you were very kind and helpful.’” (Qiana)
What have you learned about returning to work in an ‘at home’ position?
“What I have learned about myself from working at home is my increase in patience. Since you are not in front of the customers, clients, vendors, co-workers etc., you have to rely on your communication through technology – which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. I sometimes have to wait until someone responds and sometimes there are technology problems.” (Qiana)
“Working from home has afforded me a little more money to spend on personal needs and that has been great! I have always worked in customer service and I have found that talking to people on the phone rather than in person has worked out just fine.” (Mary)
What is the best part of working at home? What is the worst or a big challenge?
“I love being able to log into work from the comfort of my own home rather that making a commute in traffic. Sometimes I do wish I could meet my co-workers face to face, but the benefits outweigh the alternative.” (Mary)
“Being able to work at home has done wonders for me. It gives me the flexibility to attend to all of my personal needs (like doctor’s appointments), not having to spend extra money on transportation and avoid the exhaustion of commuting.” (Qiana)
What advice would you give someone about working from home?
“I would say be sure you like talking to people and have a comfortable space to work in.” (Mary)
“If you are new to working at home there might be career paths that you never would have thought of trying that you might end up liking. Make sure that all of your technology (computer, Internet, headsets, telephone, etc.) is up to date and working well. When your technology is not the best, it can really harm your productivity and experience. It makes life easy for yourself and your employer” (Qiana)
For many who are returning to work, it can be an easier transition than travelling to a job outside the home. While it is true that each employer requires certain technology requirements and a specific work history to match their job descriptions, the variety of employers with virtual positions continues to expand. Working remotely helps to reduce barriers and challenges for people with disabilities each day. Now you have an insider perspective!
About the Guest Blogger
Paula Reuben Vieillet is president and founder of Employment Options Inc., a certified Social Security Administration (SSA) Employment Network in the Ticket to Work Program, which assists those on SSDI/SSI benefits in returning to the workforce. They specialize in work-at-home employment and have long-term relationships with national employers. They offer community on-site jobs serving 47 states.
Her company, which also has a Facebook and Twitter page, lets interested job seekers apply online for their free services at www.MyEmploymentOptions.com. You can also learn more about their work at home specialties. Paula is a frequent consultant to the SSA on the Ticket to Work Program and has authored three books on job placement.
If you have any questions about the company’s free services, nationwide job openings or resources for people with disabilities, email Lori Adler at [email protected] or call 800-441-3114 ext. 754 (Shieka).
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