Work From Home – Technology Advances Have Changed Earning a Living Online From Pipedream to Possible

There are many benefits of working from home. It saves money from commuting, lunches out, childcare, and purchasing and maintaining a work wardrobe. There are considerable benefits that have to do with flexibility – time-wise, location-wise, and employer-wise.

As technology and the Internet advance, effectively earning a living working from home has become a very real and viable possibility for more people. Making money online has been long viewed as a “pipe dream” by the masses. But, more and more companies are looking to outsource full-time and part-time jobs to people who telecommute. This article explores some of the very real advantages and some possible challenges to being able to effectively work from home.

Want To Completely Eliminate Your Daily Work Commute?
As an employee, most people are required to commute daily from their home to their place of employment. Every day people fight traffic and spend both their time and gas to get to work on time. Working online affords people the opportunity to shorten their daily commute to the length of time it takes to walk to their home office. Now a 20 or 30 min. commute is shortened down to 2 minutes.

This can add up to some very real savings! If you calculate how much money you spend per month on gas for your daily commute, and add on top of that the time you spend in the car every month, you might be shocked at what you find.

Decreasing the amount of money you spend on gas allows you to effectively give yourself an hourly raise. And getting back some of that commute time will give you more time to get the piles of things done that are vying for your attention every day.

Do You Aspire To Have More Flexibility In Your Work Hours?
Having more flexibility in your work hours is another very real advantage to having a job at home. Need to run to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day, or pick up one your children after school in the middle of the afternoon? How would you like to be able to knock off early on a Friday, so you can get a head start on the drive heading out of town for the weekend? All of this is possible, when you set your own work hours.

However, this can be a double-edged sword. It’s very important to plan your work, and work your plan. In order to be effective, and often to be able to meet the requirements of many online employers, setting up and working your schedule consistently becomes critical.

Want To Work Wherever You Find An Internet Connection?
Additionally, you can work from wherever you have an Internet connection. You are no longer restrained to any one city or building. You could work from home, local coffee shops and libraries, or even from a balcony in an exotic foreign location. Working online really does open up some amazing possibilities.

However, keep in mind that you must still get your work done, and some employers online require you to meet specific office set-up criteria in order to work with them. You may need a quiet environment without distractions, a wired telephone connection, (as opposed to a wireless telephone) or access to a printer, fax or scanner.

Want To Have A Broader Range Of Job Opportunities To Choose From?
Another tremendous advantage to an at-home job is that it opens up a broader range of employment options. Depending upon your marketplace, your local employment opportunities may be limited to certain industrial sectors.

You could be pigeonholed into a certain job just because you live close to a particular employer. For example, if you lived in a mining town, your employment options would be very limited, and you would have to move to another town in order to find a broader range of employment opportunities.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to move in order to find employment in an industry that you’re interested in, or have already developed some skill.

Be Aware, If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Get Paid!
I mentioned above how important it is to stick to your schedule. Working at home really can give you tremendous flexibility, and offers an array of advantages. But if you have difficulty self-starting tasks, setting and sticking to your own schedule could be a challenge. Every new job offers new challenges, this is no different.

You should certainly familiarize yourself with some of the calendar scheduling possibilities that are available from companies like Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo calendar, Google calendar, or one of many other scheduling systems available online. A simple Google search for “scheduling software” or “calendar program” will give you a variety of calendar options to choose from. Pick one, work with it and become familiar with how to use it, and stay committed to using it daily for everything you do. Not only will this increase your productivity, it will guarantee that you don’t “wash out” of the work-at-home marketplace because of an inability to set and work your schedule.

At Home Distractions Can Ruin Your Work Productivity
Many parents are attracted to working from home, so that they can be closer to their families. Working adult schedules are very different from our children’s school schedules. Adults in the workplace don’t get off of work until 5 PM or 6 PM if they’re working in a first shift job situation. School children, however, are often finished by 2:30 PM or 3 PM. This creates a unique challenge for many working families that has opened the door to a variety of paid after-school programs. Some children need the structure of an after-school program to stay out of trouble and help them get started on their homework.

Working a job from home allows parents to avoid having to shell out even more money to pay for an after-school program. But, having children around during your workday can be very distracting. You can literally “drown” in interruptions. And since you won’t have a boss looking over your shoulder to tell you to ‘get back to work’, you’ll wonder what happened to your day, and why you weren’t able to get as much done as you had hoped to.

Interruptions can be a tremendous productivity killer. The best way to deal with this situation is to set clear ground rules with your family, so they understand that when you’re working at home, you’re not available, unless there is truly an emergency. Being interrupted every 30 minutes can threaten your ability to make working from home a viable option.

What’s The Bottom Line?
A tough economy has forced many employers to look for additional ways that they can cut costs to save money and protect their profits. There is a considerable amount of overhead cost to an employer to provide an employee with a work environment. The building has a monthly cost per square foot. Utilities, office furniture, telephones, Internet connections, computers and equipment are just a few examples. By hiring an employee to work from home, companies can effectively get the same work output for less money than bringing an employee in-house.

With that in mind, great work from home opportunities are rapidly becoming more available. When you consider the reduction in time and expense commuting to a job, adding additional flexibility to your hours and the location where you work, as well as simply having a broader range of job opportunities to pick from, the barriers to finding a great work-at-home situation are going way down. With a bit of due diligence, and some focused effort, you too can earn a living working from home!

Dr. Carolee Duckworth is an online work expert, earning her own living online for 12 years & teaching thousands of others how. She designed and initiated—providing significant work advancement for tens of thousands of working adults since 1996.

The Convergence of Home Technology

How many ‘set top boxes’ do you have? Are you the proud owner of just one box that caters for your every whim, or do you have a precipitous and ‘threatening to topple at any moment’ pile of hardware that makes your living room look like a discount tech warehouse? The convergence of home technology is the subject of much debate – how integrated is our home, what could we do without, what couldn’t we even think of living without?

But home technology convergence isn’t just about home entertainment systems talking to your PC, your Xbox streaming films and programmes from your computer to your television or even switching to VoIP for your telephony. Home technology convergence covers a multitude of applications throughout the house – from automated garage doors and light switches activated from your iPhone right through to a fridge that lets you know when you need more milk.

Home media servers allow you to integrate your entire system into a DLNA network, allowing you to use your PC as your home ‘hub’ for everything technological. The very latest televisions are not only HD and 3D ready – they’re also ready to talk back to your computer too, negating the need for cables and linking up via your Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth technology. The computer is taking its rightful place at the very heart of the technological home. Now it’s not just the focal point for downloading data from the Internet or for the kids to do their homework on. It’s literally become ‘one of the family’.

The ‘black box’ fallacy

However, despite the leaps and bounds made in home technology we are still a long way from a ‘black box’ situation where the home’s entire tech is controlled through one central point or ‘black box’. Although many have tried to develop this, and despite the importance of the home PC as a control panel from which to conduct an orchestra of home technology, the closest we’ve probably come to any kind of multi-tasking central control system is the ‘universal remote control’. These are handy little gadgets that negate the need for a collection of remotes for your television/Sky box/surround sound system/DVD player (delete as applicable) and give you all the couch-control you need in one, handy remote. Although just having one remote means that it’s easier to lose down the back of the sofa, that seems to be its only real disadvantage.

Slowly but surely, we are starting to find out how all of this modern technology fits together to form the ultimate ‘smart house’. Whilst voice activated light switches are still a bit of a novelty, it does show that we are beginning to understand how a convergence of home technology on all levels could make our lives very much easier. It is possible to build a ‘smart house’ where everything works from a central computer (from the heating to the sub-woofer levels on your hi-fi). But for the majority of people, developing a smart house based on technological convergence is a case of piecing together a jigsaw of available and affordable technology over time.

The real world

The reality is far more organic. Slowly, piece by piece our homes are becoming more integrated. The advent of smart technology and in particular WiFi has given those who want to ultimately see a true convergence situation the building blocks to achieve their goal. WiFi is probably one of the most important developments in years, allowing an entire home to become one big transmitter for the movement of digital data from various sources to various outlets.

The providers are catching up too. Whereas once utilities companies provided one service such as your telephone landline, they are now embracing the concept of Multi-play marketing. Multi-play describes the provision of different telecommunication services such as telephone, mobile phone services, Broadband Internet access and television into one bundled package. It may seem like convenience to the customer, but it really does represent an aspect of home convergence technology. DLNA communications between PCs and digital media outlets such as televisions or games consoles is another aspect, all linking in and interconnecting with the WiFi foundations to be found in most modern homes.

Eventually, the convenience of one ‘black box’ system is going to be too tempting to resist for a society that is becoming obsessed with tech. Some bright spark will develop a clever algorithm that will draw all your home tech into one, easy to manage and aesthetically pleasing ‘home hub’. Indeed, the term is already being used by some providers of telephony, broadband and digital media packages, and it is certain that as we develop ever more complex binary networks in our homes, more of our everyday home technology will slot into its allotted place. The convergence home of the future is closer than we think…

Popular Trends in Home Technology

As a former home automation installer and a former manufactures rep, I have observed many trends. The following items are certainly the hotest trends this year in home technology.

VoIP (pronounced Voice over IP) refers to making telephone calls using your high-speed internet connection. This technology is gaining ground very fast, as new users are discovering it is 50-75% cheaper the comparable standard telephone service and congress is standing behind the technology for now, no taxes or legislation to mess it up – yet… The a catch? Several more variables in losing your dial tone: Power outages, internet downtime, and equipment failures are just a few problems you may encounter using VoIP. Also, If you are dropping the standard phone line, and you have a security system you will need a cellular or radio back up for safety reasons.

Retrofit home theaters. With the cost of movie tickets approaching $10, it makes it quite expensive for families to enjoy movies and snacks at the theater. There are new techniques and processes to install a home theater in your existing home. Many of the processes are for noise reduction, so you don’t have harmonic vibrations in the home, or annoy your neighbors. Living in a townhouse, row house, or other multiplex homes, you can now “pump up the volume” with bothering others!

Security Cameras. Many cities now require visual verification prior to dispatching emergency services. Approximately 9 out of 10 alarms are false. Cameras in the home can quickly verify that the alarm is actually triggered by a burglary. In addition, many new parents are now installing cameras to check in on their children while they are away to ensure safety.

Home Offices. Today more and more people telecommute. The reasons may very- but the fact is home offices are now becoming a necessity for many homeowners. Proper planning can provide you with all the technology you need in either a new home or a remodel. If you are ready to start thinking about your custom workspace, keep the following in mind: your personal work style; essential services such as Internet & telephone; and office needs such as printing, wireless networks, file storage and audio distribution.

Lighting Controls. Reliable lighting control used to be reserved for the wealthy. The rest of us were reduced to live without lighting control or the unreliable X-10 technology. In the last few years two new technologies arose. UPB (Universal power line bus) and RF (Z-Wave). These new products have provided us with more selection, more reliability, and the best part-they cost about the same as the major branded X-10 products.

Energy Savings. Recent energy cost have us all looking for ways to reduce the utilities budget in the home. Home Automation is stepping up to the plate. Home automation can manage the thermostat (typically the largest load in the home) based on actual occupancy rather than when you think you will be home. Lighting is the second largest load, home automation will turn off the extra lights when they are not needed. Using motion sensing, occupancy sensing, and other types of lighting controls, home automation can shut the lights off behind you!

Invest in Equipment to Support Your Home Technology – Satellite TV Deserves That Big Screen

I started out as a satellite TV skeptic. In my estimation, cable television service, with its reliable feed and impressive selection of programming (which far exceeded the selections offered solely on local networks) seemed genuinely more than adequate.

My husband, however, was sincerely convinced (and thus, successfully convincing) in the opinion that satellite television signals delivered vastly superior televised entertainment, with far more reliable consistency, not to mention their infinitely greater assortment of quality channels.

Many of us really don’t have enough of an emotional investment in the hobby of TV watching for such technological debates to warrant any significant degree of discussion, so I readily acquiesced. In no time at all there was a compact satellite installed above the southeast corner of the garage, pointing due south so as to effectively receive all those superior satellite transmissions.

Years went by and the only big change I can honestly admit to noticing was that I wrote a check for a slightly higher amount than I’d previously paid out for cable each month. During the months when the TV package included special sporting feeds, that invoice crept higher. I remained unimpressed.

Amidst regular diatribes on the superiority of satellite television and its positive impact on society in general, I remained respectfully silent. (My grandmother was a great fan of the phrase, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” She was a rather quiet woman). Anyway…

Eventually the day came, five years or so after satellite TV became a regular part of our family, that we invested in a new television. This larger (36 inch) model with its LCD panel and high definition capabilities is entirely a different species from the 19 inch vintage television that had not done justice to the wonders of satellite TV reception.

Suddenly (you have to now imagine the heavens opening and a faint choral hymn resounding from somewhere in the great beyond — possibly the same locale from which satellite television signals originate) I was able to see, clearly and most agreeably, the indisputable quality of satellite television.

Investing in equipment that is able to effectively support and make use of our in-home technology services is of utmost importance. We get the most out of modern technology only when the equipment used in conjunction with the services is as current (or close to it) as the technological capabilities themselves.

Having an up to date television in tandem with satellite TV is astoundingly entertaining. You get more out of the experience of watching films, educational documentaries make you feel as if you’re actually taking part in the adventure, and musical programs, with their increased visual clarity and optimal audio quality, let the viewer appreciate a true concert-like experience. And, as any fan of athletic competitions can tell you, the detail and excitement of sports programming makes you feel almost as if you’ve got front row seats to the real life action.