Telecommuting: Broadening horizons by working online

Ms.T explores the world of online employment and what it could do for you.


Iram Moazzam September 24, 2013
Ms.T explores the world of online employment and what it could do for you.

It is a lazy Sunday evening in mid-September and most people I know are relishing the day off  — except me. I am busy slogging away at my laptop to get this article completed before tonight’s big dinner.

But I’m not complaining. I am perched on a comfy lawn chair, overlooking my lush green garden where my children are engaged in a game of tag and the only disturbance around me is the occasional hum of a car passing by. Not a bad place to work, is it? My commute of less than 20 seconds serves well for a freelance writer like me; I can stop and resume my work as I please, without the additional troubles of commuting, office politics and deadlines etc bogging me down. And I love it. I often wonder why other housewives who wish to keep busy and earn some money don’t work from home, especially in today’s world where a number of small jobs and employment opportunities are available online. I know plenty of women who feel that their everyday ghareloo chores are not enough — they want to do something more! Anum Aleem, a stay-at-home mother from Karachi says, “I constantly wonder how I can give my husband a hand in making ends meet, but it is unacceptable in my family for women to work outside.”

Keeping these social and religious norms in mind, telecommuting (working from home) online appears to be the perfect solution to their dilemma! I believe it is a good time for Pakistani women to look into the concept of working from home and so here I am. Read on to see how telecommuting can help you.



The benefits of working from home:

Working from within the comforts of your home brings with itself many perks which make it easy to balance your personal and professional lives. The flexible timings and professional autonomy top the list of course but for me, it is simply a great feeling not having to wake up to the dreaded alarm every morning only to wonder, “Mein aaj kiya pehnoon?” The distance between your home and office, the stressful traffic jams and scorching heat are practically non-existent when you are telecommuting. In fact, my own experience suggests that you can live much better, spend more time with your children and be much more productive without the worry of a costly and tiring morning commute. One can save a lot of money which would otherwise be spent on transportation or hiring a nanny/day-care to look after your children while you are away at work. Office politics, overtime work and distractions can all be avoided when you work from home and yet you can work closely with colleagues thanks to technological advancements and social media. These benefits have encouraged some men to opt for telecommuting too! “I chose writing over an office job as it paid me a good amount which I could earn without wasting time and money on travel every day,” says Ali Shan, a Lahore-based academic writer.

What are the options?

Although the software industry has been the pioneer of net-based employment, the past few years have seen a rise of home-based jobs in different fields of work. Based on my research, some of the most common online jobs include:



•  Medical, academic, creative and SEO-based writing: If you are blessed with good writing skills, a career as a writer may be your true calling. There is almost always a great demand for writers for websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines, novels and even some big corporations etc. Faiezah Shahid of Peshawar works as a part-time medical writer, earning about Rs60,000 per month. “I couldn’t work outside my home after marriage,” she says. “I wanted to stay near my family so I took up medical writing and really enjoy it.” This type of writing is gaining popularity amongst home-makers; all that one needs is an awareness of budding projects and a passion for writing.

•  Medical or legal transcription: This form of work entails converting oral recordings into words or legal documents for filing purposes.

•  Online surveys and advertisements: In the competitive corporate world of today, firms often invest in online marketing by hiring external help to conduct research surveys, filling in forms and posting advertisements onto their website. And they pay a good amount for it too!

•  Data entry: Put your speedy typing skills to use and become a data entry specialist, converting written documents into soft copies from your home. Data entry is relatively easier and less hectic than others and what’s more, it is almost always in demand.

How much can I earn online?

Your renumeration depends largely upon the type of job you choose, how much of it you actually get done and the firm that employs you. Jobs of freelance writing generally pay better than conducting surveys or data entry but of course, are harder to do and come by. In the US for instance, most legal transcribers earn between $20,000 to $60,000 per annum (About.com). Personally, I believe that the quality of your work determines your success rate as well. Many popular academic writers earn a handsome six-figure salary per month.



Challenges of working from home:

It must be noted that there are some downsides to working from home as well. For example, it may be difficult for you to juggle work and home life simultaneously when you are based at home. The line between the two often tends to get blurry at times, such as in big households when a spontaneous family outing may spring up during your work time, causing unexpected interruptions. One must also curtail the urge to start working during family time. But first and foremost, it is imperative that you select the right employer and shield yourself against internet-based fraud. There is a plethora of scams online and the safest way would be to approach an employer who is well-known or has hired someone you know before. This way you can be sure that you and your money are in safe hands. The example of Irfan Hunjara, a data-entry clerk from Rawalpindi serves as a warning for online fraud. “I started working as a home-based data entry operator for a firm that gave me Rs40,000 the first two months. I was so pleased that I took on additional work for them and earned another Rs60,000!” he says. “But instead of getting paid, my employer simply disappeared at the end of the three months. It was such a waste of my time!”

Facing the challenges:

Remember that starting a job, whether from home or not, is a big change not just for you but for your family as well — especially if you have young children. So before you begin, call a family meeting and help the others understand why you are working and what it means for them. Communication and trust are the key to success. Once you have started working, establish a daily routine comprising of equal time slots for work, home and family time. “It is important to make a strict schedule before you start an online job as one may get tempted into overwork, resulting in exhaustion, sleep deprivation and unhappy friends and family,” says Ali Shan. “Also, always ask for your payment before moving on to the next project,” he adds. Whatever your situation may be, it is best to be absolutely sure you want to be working before starting it or your productivity will be compromised.

Pre-requisites for online jobs:

•  A strong internet connection.

•  A UPS to back your computer up during times of load shedding.

•  Sound computer proficiency.

•  Time, patience and a will to make it work.

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, September 22nd, 2013.

COMMENTS (4)

A. khan | 9 years ago | Reply

Its very appealing but you should have entered a word of warning.

There are dozens of scams on the internet where they promise you work (mostly from home to make it sound appealing) in return for a small registration fee and of course, you never hear from them. Other scams include getting work done but not paying. You get the picture. Do your due diligence before parting with any money. It is a different case altogether if you work for an actual company with a physical presence and they let you telecommute.

A good rule of thumb - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Hshah | 9 years ago | Reply

The main issue here is exactly how to tap into this online job market? Job boards like Rozee.pk are overloaded with applications, and in a city like karachi there seems to be more demand for jobs then there is supply. Any suggestion on where to start looking?

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