6 Strategies From a Dad Who Ditched a Stressful Job and Now Works From Home

A man works from home as he plays with his cat, Cashew.
Brad Rice works from his home in Wesley Chapel, Fla. He puts in 12 hours at an office and eight hours at home each week for his part-time job. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

If you’ve read “The 4-Hour Workweek,” maybe you, like me, said: “This sounds awesome, but I can’t possibly.”

The idea of working a few hours a day and spending the rest of your life leisure reading, hanging out with friends, and sipping mai tais by the pool is a dream many people assume is impossible.

But maybe you’re tired of juggling kids, school and a social life with a job you’re not crazy about.

That’s what led Brad Rice, now 29, to reconsider his work schedule.

Out of college, the only work Rice could find was as a junior administrator for cloud computing company Salesforce, even though he didn’t know what Salesforce was or how to operate it.

He eventually became a Salesforce consultant, and while his pay increased significantly, so did the hours and stress.

With every project, the appeal of moving up the corporate ladder and chasing pay raises wore off. By the time his daughter, Evelyn, was born in 2016, he wanted out.

Now, Rice works a part-time job 20 hours a week —  he works 12 hours in an office and eight hours from home. He also started a consulting business on the side that he works on for about 10 hours a week.

Rice loves the flexibility he now has at home instead of being stuck in an office.

“If you’re not 100% happy and you think there’s something better out there, then don’t settle and start looking,” Rice said. “It might be hard for a month or two, but it’s kinda worth the rest of your life.”

6 Tactics He Used to Negotiate a Flexible Work Schedule

A family take an afternoon stroll together.
Ashley, Brad and Evelyn Katie Rice, 17 months, spend an afternoon together at home. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Rice didn’t just get lucky in negotiating his dream work schedule; he was flexible and tactical in his search. Here are his tips that anyone can use to build a better work-life balance.

1. Look for a New Job When You Need It Least

Many people wait to look for a job until they get fired or quit, or their work is so unbearable that they’ll take anything.

Because he had a steady job, Rice could afford to be patient as he looked for the right gig. He sent a lot of LinkedIn messages and averaged just one response for every 20 messages.

He finally got his job from a company that wasn’t even hiring.

Rice was in a position to negotiate because he wasn’t in crisis mode. Companies could have laughed in his face at his requests, and he would’ve been fine. (Actually, he was kind of surprised when they didn’t.)

2. Do Your Homework Before Negotiating

When he got an offer that was too low, Rice researched what the administrator before him had earned. When he realized he couldn’t negotiate a higher salary, he negotiated working fewer hours and the ability to work from home.

3. Find a Field or Company That Accepts Remote Work

A man works on his laptop from home.
Brad Rice, who spends about 10 hours a week on a side consulting business, works from home on his laptop. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Popular fields for working from home include digital marketing, telesales and information technology. But sometimes, it’s about the company more than the job. Rice says if you find a company that already lets people work remotely, it’s more likely you’ll be able to, as well.

4. Avoid Customer-Facing Jobs

Customer-facing jobs are jobs that require you to be available during regular business hours — positions like customer training, support and most sales.

Working directly with customers restricts you to typical business hours, Rice said, making it harder to enjoy the flexibility you’re trying to create.

5. Be OK With Backtracking Your Career or Compensation

Rice went from a flashy job consulting for big companies to working part-time for a small firm. But he had a reason for scaling back.

“Being at one company is much more relaxing than working for five companies on five uber-important projects all at once,” he said.

And with a shorter commute, lunches at home and being a little more frugal, he and his family were able to afford the pay cut. 

6. Try Not to Manage People

Much like customer-facing jobs, management locks you into other people’s schedules and limits your ability to work remotely.

And besides, having the autonomy to work on your schedule around your life is better than any management promotion.

“I think people have this idea that when you manage other employees, that makes you somebody [and] that it makes you successful,” Brad said. [/vertical_image]

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder and gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.