By Tin Advincula on October 10, 2016
A work from home job is a dream come true to employees who want to work and hustle without braving the ever-worsening traffic of Manila. Well, at least that’s the case for me. Before I dive into how you should scrutinize job ads and eventually, your interviewer, in your journey to the work from home life let me get one thing straight—working from home is a REAL job. Not working in a physical office doesn’t mean we laze around all day in our pajamas. (Although I do have my fair share of jammy “office” OOTDs) It just means we do our 8-5 at HOME—or anywhere where we can bring a laptop and connect to wifi. We have employers, we have goals, and we definitely get paid regularly.
With that out of the way, let’s dive right in—’cause some companies are sneaky when it comes luring hopeful laborers into a job that might end up taking advantage of you.
1. What are the work hours?
This is a pretty basic question that you also ask in non-remote jobs but it matters all the more now so you have an idea on how to work with your schedule. Also, if you have foreign employers and they require you to work on their timezone, that might be a problem if they’re on the other side of the world.
2. Do I have electricity and internet allowance?
This is one of “benefits” I enjoyed a lot when I took my first ever work from home job—they paid for my electricity and internet bills. If you think about it, it’s just fair that your employer shoulders your electricity and internet bills because if they’re not, they’re basically leeching off of your personal utility expenses. This is definitely something you need to think about or fight for, if needed, so you won’t feel unprepared.
3. Are you going to provide tools?
This depends on your position but most of the time, there are paid online tools, programs, and apps to be used. I use the hell out of Google docs, Slack, and Evernote. However, since I’m an editor, my employer provides our team with Coschedule, Dashlane, and other SEO tools. Another tool you need to ask them about: your laptop. Most companies assume that you have a laptop (‘cause that’s the first work from home job requirement, obviously) but it doesn’t hurt to ask. I personally prefer having a work laptop so I can separate work from personal life (one of the struggles you will encounter sooner or later in the job). If they say no to that, you can ask if they’ll shoulder laptop repairs if the time comes that your laptop slows down or gives up on you.
4. What are my benefits?
Ahh yes, we’re getting deeper and thicker-skinned as we move along this list. This is what most companies/employers overlook when hiring work from home employees, especially if they’re overseas. This is because it’s hard to go through all of the admin work in a country unfamiliar with work from home jobs. If they’re partnered with online services that give benefits to remote workers then good, but if not, they should at least have a monthly allowance for that OR reimburse your hospital bills, if something happens
5. Do I get leaves?
I thought this was kind of a useless question too because I already work from home—why do I need leaves? Simple, ‘cause just like any employee, you work all the damn time! I’ve heard of cases wherein the employee wasn’t allowed to take a leave because she can still work from her bed even if she had a fever. That’s outright unfair. Work from home employees need their rest when they’re sick and vacation leave for when they feel burned out.
To add to that, you also need to ask if they’ll honor our PH holidays (because we have a lot). If they won’t and you really want the job, you have to say goodbye to long weekends.
6. Who will I report to?
One thing I learned from working from home is that you need to communicate constantly because you’re not working in one location. It’s important to know who you will communicate and report to throughout the duration of your time with them. This is also one way of asking who your boss will be and from your end: do you think you can work with this person? It’s hard to know, but there’s always LinkedIn and social media (if you want to go there).
7. What do you expect from me? What's my KPI?
This is basically a breakdown of the job description into daily feasible goals. Ask what they expect from you—what you should do, shouldn’t do, and might do. Meticulously read through the job description and pinpoint entries that say something similar to 'and other tasks appointed by immediate head'. This is a pretty vague task, and you’d want to know what these "other tasks" are and judge from there if it’s too much, or if it’s workable.
8. How will I get paid?
This is an issue if your employer is not from the Philippines. It will most likely be via Paypal, but it has it’s own sneaky way of shaving off a few pesos from you because of the different conversion rates. There are also websites that do the depositing from the employer’s foreign bank account straight to your local bank account which is really convenient.
9. Can you describe the corporate culture?
Remember that work from home jobs are dominated by foreign employers. You might be working with a united nations-esque group of people wherein each has a distinct culture on top of their own unique traits as co-workers/bosses. Ask if they can summarize their corporate culture in 3 words, and base your judgement on that. Trust me, you want to know who you’ll work with, how they say things, how to request things from them, how to use and spell certain words, etc.
10. What about taxes, taxes, taxes?
Six letters, two words: NET PAY. You have to remember that the taxes you’ll pay as a work from home employee will be done by you. This involves some serious paperwork and it's a good idea to talk to someone who has done it before. Remind your employer that you will pay your taxes. Take your salary offer with a grain of salt ‘cause adjustments might be needed.
At the end of the day it’s all about what’s fair for you and your employer. Do not be shy about being assertive, if this is a job you see yourself in in the long run, you have to be serious about asking these questions. Trust me, they matter a lot—especially if you’re out and about trying to make ends meet. Remember, work from home or not, we’re all trying to make a living. We have to be responsible and reach our KPIs, communicate properly, and pay our dues.