If working from home is your dream, you’ve probably seen your share of job postings and business opportunities that promise way more than they deliver.
On The Penny Hoarder, we try to highlight more viable home-based jobs and businesses, like being a search engine evaluator and making money on YouTube. But “business” implies unpredictability, and many online “jobs” are part-time. That’s great for some readers, but others may want a more predictable and consistent paycheck. That’s why I went hunting for legitimate, full-time work-from-home jobs — and some of them even offer benefits.
Can You Really Work From Home Full Time?
Large corporations often contract smaller companies to provide phone and online customer service, and these smaller companies specifically hire home workers. Typically you’ll spend the day on the phone in front of your computer, usually answering calls or responding to questions online.
For example, a friend worked as a home-based online support specialist for AFNI, Inc. (which only rarely has at-home workers), and some of their clients were appliance makers and sellers. Among his many tasks, my friend spent his time helping customers with things like ordering parts and finding a service technician, both on the phone and online through a live chat service.
Think back to all the times you’ve called a company for help or typed questions into an online help box. The people you dealt with could have been working at home, which gives you some idea of the kind of work you might be doing.
How Much Could You Get Paid?
While these positions generally don’t pay high wages, many do provide a regular paycheck and health insurance, along with other benefits. For example, Convergys work-at-home jobs come with “a full benefit package with medical, dental and vision coverage.” They have a 401(k) plan, and they reimburse employees for college tuition. (Click to tweet this opportunity!)
As a Convergys “anywhere agent,” you take customer calls and provide other services for large corporations. Although they don’t like to name the corporations they work for, they say they have clients in these industries:
- Cable & satellite
- Financial services
- Travel & hospitality
Other Work-From-Home Jobs
Since you’d work for a company that contracts services to a variety of clients, the work you do could change as clients fluctuate. You might spend months explaining to customers how to set up smart TVs, and then become a complaint handler when your employer gets a new client. You could even end up as a debt collector. If you want a particular type of work, ask about what you’ll be doing before accepting the job.
Here are some of the companies that offer at-home customer service jobs:
As I write this post, this company is hiring work-from-home agents in 40 states and Canada. Be ready for the interview, which is done by phone in front of your computer and takes two hours.
Pay: Glassdoor.com shows salaries ranging from $9.42 to $9.67 per hour. For their U.S. employees, Sykes says, “We offer limited medical, dental and vision healthcare plans to all of our employees.” They also have a 401(k) and offer the option of paid days off or cash rewards.
Formerly West at Home, this company employs “thousands of home-based agents located across the country.”
Pay: An employee posting on Glassdoor.com mentions, “It provided flexible hours that I needed,” but others point out a lack of benefits and starting at around $9/hour. The company says their benefits include “flexibility, no commute, and no dress code.” They note that “You have the option to take advantage of medical and dental related benefits from an outside provider.”
This company contracts more than 40,000 employees who speak 51 different languages. Many are at call centers, but TeleTech also hires home workers. Look for the listings with “@Home” under “Location.”
Like many of these companies, they “provide outsourced customer service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Pay: Glassdoor.com shows a range of salaries from $9.16 to $15.33 per hour, and the company says they provide paid vacation days, holidays and (for full-time workers) medical, dental and vision insurance.
You’ll find this interesting statement on the iQor website: “No interview necessary to join our team of highly-paid career agents.” Instead, according to BusinessWeek, they have a screening process that includes an aptitude test.
While they primarily operate call centers (31 of them around the globe) they do hire people who work at home. For example, The Gazette reported in 2011 that they hired 100 work-at-home agents in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It isn’t clear what benefits are offered to employees in other locations, but the Gazette article notes that in this case “benefits will not be available to work-at-home personnel.”
Pay: Some of their call center jobs pay more than $100,000 annually, according to a BusinessWeek article. It’s safe to assume they’re management positions, but the company does have a policy of promoting from within. Glassdoor.com says the average wage is $11.43 per hour, which is still better than many of these customer service jobs.
The Upsides and Downsides of Working at Home
“…there is no background noise in my apartment. This means that it is much easier to help my customers and lowers my irritation factor greatly.”
Ah, but then there’s the catch: Home workers are less likely to be promoted — and they get smaller raises! Researchers suggest that this is due to a lack of “passive face time.” Apparently you have to be seen to be appreciated, so, if it’s possible, you might want to get out of the house and show up at the office once in a while.
Your Turn: Would you consider working from home for one of these companies?