If you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to assume you have an interest in either getting a work from home job, or developing your skills for a current role.
The internet allows employers to tap into the talent pool without having to pay for traditional expenses like a bloated HR department, brick and mortar facilities, or office equipment.
Instead, companies can simply hire or contract workers who already have everything that’s required for a virtual office.
But work from home jobs aren’t for everyone.
Unlike a traditional job, work from home opportunities are pretty flexible when it comes to scheduling. The tasks may change without warning, and communication can be difficult, especially when dealing with international colleagues where there’s a language or cultural barrier.
I’ve put together a list of the top 5 skills for work from home jobs based upon my experiences and the stories of those I’ve met along my journey.
Although these skills are great for any type of online job or business (not just work from home opportunities), I believe they’re especially vital for online income streams.
In my experience, time management ranks as the most important skill to posses for any work from home or online based job.
There’s a few reasons I chose this vital skill as number one. For starters, there are tons of potential distractions that come along with online jobs.
You can easily lose track of the task at hand and find yourself browsing the news, grabbing a bite to eat in the kitchen, or a million of other things.
Bottom line, you must be an effective manager of time if you want to succeed in a work from home based income stream.
Even with flexible schedules, many work from home jobs require a minimum quota of weekly or monthly hours. It’s easy to keep putting off side work, especially if it’s not your primary income streams.
So how you improve your time management skills?
Easy, with all the free scheduling and office productivity resources available, everyone can find ways to become more efficient.
For starters, create a weekly schedule and block off the minimum time you need to work for your employer (or yourself if you’re an individual business owner).
But who wants to be doing just the minimum?
If you’re working for a specific goal, simply block off more hours. When you get down to work, use an online countdown service to ensure you work the hours you scheduled yourself for.
Being able to clearly articulate your thoughts, concerns, and questions is #2 on my list.
Many work from home and online jobs are international and you never know where your managers or co-workers are based out of.
Even working with other people of the same nationality, being an effective communicator is a must given that most online jobs don’t afford you the opportunity of talking to someone face to face (unless you’re video chatting, but even that doesn’t capture the same nuances as a face to face conversation).
So what can you do to improve your communication skills?
Start with focusing on writing better emails.
Email messages are the primary way of communicating for most online jobs and work from home jobs.
For phone based jobs or telemeetings, active listening will go a long ways in avoiding embarrassing mistakes and unnecessary confusion.
While multi-tasking is great in some circumstances (e.g. a virtual call center agent who needs to listen and take down information simultaneously), in other situations, like listening to someone with a foreign accent, or someone speaking about a subject you’re not an expert on, multi-tasking can be counterproductive.
So eliminate those distractions, stop trying to listen to your Customer or program coordinator while reading the news (or this article ) and start working on developing your active listening skills!
OK, so staying organized technically encompasses multiple skill sets like managing your time, money, and resources, but I think it’s important enough to list it separately.
I also think that depending on your line of work, the importance of staying organized varies.
For example, incentivized freebie websites (IFW) generally make you sign up for trial memberships (usually for a small fee of $1-5) that generate the user to cash out after generating enough ‘points’ or ‘credits’ to reach the minimum payout threshold.
So keeping with the IFW example, you may have to spend $20 in trial memberships to earn $60 in payouts leading to a $40 profit. That $40 profit quickly disappears if you fail to cancel the trial memberships, or keep track of incoming payments.
Staying organized is also essential for online ventures like tracking affiliate earnings, ad revenue, performing analytics to optimize conversion pages, and more.
So what are some easy ways to get (and stay) organized?
- Take advantage of a free office productivity suite to track earnings.
- Create a task list by prioritizing outstanding items that need to be completed. Make sure to keep the task list up to date and you’ll soon find encouragement (or motivation) by looking at all the tasks you’ve completed.
- Block off 1 hour (or more) to clear out all the messages in your e-mail inbox. Don’t just delete messages, but take some time to effectively organize your messages. Start at the highest level and drill down from there. An example might be ‘Income Streams’ –> ‘Accounts’ –> and then list individual accounts from there to organize your messages.
You probably won’t be very successful in the stay at home or online job market if you can’t create a budget and stick with it.
Many work from home jobs hire workers as contractors and thus, won’t withhold taxes.
While this might seem great when you receive a larger than expected check, you won’t be so happy at the end of the year when you end up owing taxes.
Money management could easily warrant several articles about the subject, and I’ll write more about it in future articles.
- Track all expenses and income (Mint is a great, free tool)
- Create a budget
- Stick with it!!
It really is that simple, but can be very difficult to put into practice.
Finally, computer literacy is a must have skill for any work from home or online based job.
I’m not saying you need to be a programmer or understand the ins and out of a computer, but at minimum, you should be proficient in operating a web browser, an e-mail client to manage multiple mail accounts, and be an efficient typist.
Most work from home jobs require minimum productivity standards, and while these standards can vary wildly depending on what kind of work it is, having a solid grasp on those three aspects of computer literacy will pay off in the end.
Learn how to type, or how to work with an e-mail client like Thunderbird.
I’m assuming you know how to operate a web browser if you’re reading this page, but if you want to become more proficient, simply do a quick search with whatever browser you use.
It’s good to become familiar with Internet Explorer (I’m not a fan of IE, but many online jobs require it), and one other browser like Chrome or FireFox.
So there you have it, the top 5 skills for work from home jobs!
I hope you’ve learned something valuable in this article and feel free to share it with someone you think will find it helpful.
Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear from you! What do you think are the most important skills to have for an online or work from home job?