Englewood, Colorado-based TTEC has been around since 1982, and is a business process outsourcing company. It provides services around the world, and operates delivery centers in 24 countries. TTEC provides work-from-home situations for consultants, customer service professionals, students, and veterans. In fact, the company employs more than 20,000 work-at-home employees.
In the 1990s, telecommuting became the subject of pop culture attention. In 1995, the motto that "work is something you do, not something you travel to" was coined. Variations of this motto include: "Work is something we DO, not a place that we GO" and "Work is what we do, not where we are." Telecommuting has been adopted by a range of businesses, governments and not-for-profit organizations. Organizations may use telecommuting to reduce costs (telecommuting employees do not require an office or cubicle, a space which has to be rented or purchased, provided with lighting and climate control, etc.). Some organizations adopt telecommuting to improve workers' quality of life, as teleworking typically reduces commuting time and time stuck in traffic jams. As well, teleworking may make it easier for workers to balance their work responsibilities with family roles (e.g., caring for children or elderly parents). Some organizations adopt teleworking for environmental reasons, as telework can reduce congestion and air pollution, as it can reduce the number of cars on the roads.
Some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of telecommuting can be explained by job characteristic theory, which proposes that the traits and tasks of the job itself affect employees’ work attitudes and behavior. If five characteristics of a job are present (skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback), then the employee in that job will experience more internal work motivation, satisfaction with personal growth opportunities, general job satisfaction, higher job performance, and lower absenteeism and turnover. Many studies have provided evidence that job characteristics influence employees’ behaviors and attitudes. Additionally, job characteristics can interact with individual differences to impact employee attitudes and behavior. Of these five job characteristics, telework specifically changes autonomy and feedback compared to face-to-face work and can thus influence employees’ behaviors and attitudes. According to Job Characteristics Theory, changes in autonomy and feedback influence work behaviors and attitudes more than a change in skill variety, task identity, or task significance.
How to Get It: Customer service is the biggest work-at-home field, with companies including Spiegel, Hilton, Best Western, HSN, 1-800-FLOWERS and many others using at-home reps. Fill out an application with staffing companies such as Arise, Alpine Access, VIPdesk, LiveOps, and Convergys, all of which vet the companies who are hiring through them. If you need benefits, search through a staffing company that will hire you as an employee (Alpine Access, VIPdesk and Convergys do this) rather than an independent contractor. If you're a contractor, you may be asked to pay a small fee (between $15 and $35) for a background check. While a fee can be a sign of a scam, independent contractors are responsible for their own expenses.
When you work in an office, you can ask your boss about the details of your upcoming presentation when you see her in the company kitchen. But if you telecommute, she’s just another email in your inbox. From letting her know if you’re going to miss a deadline or getting clarification on an email, you’ll have to be proactive about communicating all aspects of your job and any questions you might have with her.
What Employees Say: “VIPKID pays between $14-22 an hour, plus more in incentives some months. Most kids are fun and well behaved. You create your own schedule and work as little or much as you want. The materials are already provided, you just have to review them beforehand and plan out how you want to teach the materials and which props you want to use.” —Current ESL Teacher
Three of the five job attributes: skill variety, task identity, and task significance, influence how much employees think their jobs are meaningful. Skill variety is the degree that a job requires a variety of activities and skills to complete the task. An increase in skill variety is thought to increase the challenge of the job. Increasing the challenge of the job increases the individual’s experienced meaningfulness, how much the individual cares about work, and finds it worthwhile. Telework may not directly affect skill variety and task meaningfulness for the individual compared to when he or she worked in an office; however, skill variety and meaningfulness of individual tasks can increase when working in a group. If the work done at home is focused on the individual rather than the team, there may be fewer opportunities to use a variety of skills. Task identity is the degree that the individual sees work from beginning to end or completes an identifiable or whole piece of work rather than only a small piece. Task significance is the degree that the individual feels his or her work has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people within the organization or outside the organization. Telework may not change the job characteristics of skill variety, task identity, and task significance compared to working in an office; however, the presence of these characteristics will influence teleworkers’ work outcomes and attitudes.
Appen is a technology services company based in Australia. However, they have offices in the US and the United Kingdom as well, and provide opportunities in 130 countries around the world. The company works with some of the biggest companies in the world, including eight of the 10 top technology companies. It supports more than 1 million contractors around the world.
But once you’re in your home office—alone, every day—you might start to miss that collegial camaraderie. Since the UPS incident, I’ve reached out more to colleagues via IM and will post cute pics of my new puppy for my colleagues to see on Yammer. And when we’re on deadline, we even (gasp!) talk on the phone. It’s helped tremendously to make the disconnect not feel so severe. It’s a good balance between having peace and quiet when you need it and much-needed interaction with others, too.
Work-at-home and telecommuting scams are very common; many of these job offers are scams claiming that people can "get rich quick" while working from home. In fact, these scams require an investment up front with no pay-off at the end. The problem is so pervasive that in 2006 the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) established 'Project False Hopes', a Federal and state law enforcement sweep that targeted bogus business opportunity and work-at-home scams. The crackdown involved more than 100 law enforcement actions by the FTC, the Department of Justice, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and law enforcement agencies in 11 states. In four of the new FTC cases alone, consumers lost more than $30 million. "Bogus business opportunities trample on Americans’ dreams of financial independence", said FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. "If a business opportunity promises no risk, little effort, and big profits, it almost certainly is a scam. These scams offer only a money pit, where no matter how much time and money is invested, consumers never achieve the riches or financial freedom that they were promised." The FBI warned of such scams on February 2009, as well.
Virtual assistants, commonly referred to as VAs, come in all shapes and sizes. Many companies will hire VAs if they are looking for help with online administrative tasks (email, calendar management, data entry, etc), but don’t necessarily want to hire a full time employee just yet. They’re the perfect work from home job for busy people that may need to drop their work at a moments notice, or have very sporadic availability.