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.
A word of caution: Remember that where very little is required, very little is offered. These jobs don’t pay much, and they are not going to provide a reference for your resume. It may take working at several different of these online jobs to pull in the income you want. And as always, know the signs of a work-at-home scam as you sort through the opportunities.
Some of the “gotcha” job offers from the past include check-cashing schemes, mystery shopping, medical billing “jobs” that require you to purchase expensive computer software, and craft-making jobs that ask you to pony up the cash for materials before you get started. And let’s not forget about the famous envelope-stuffing scam that was nothing more than a pyramid scheme designed to siphon money from as many people as possible.
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.