Remote work has quietly become a major corporate trend over the course of the last decade. Long dreamt of as a fantasy perk, work from home arrangements are now regularly used to cut costs, increase productivity and retain the best in-house talent. In his best-selling book The 4-Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferris advocates remote work as a pillar of "lifestyle design" and coaches employees on how to pitch the idea to their bosses. It was only a matter of time before big companies took notice, and today, a surprising number of of them openly allow employees to work away from the office.
Moving company U-Haul is among the bigger names of the business world to have embraced remote work arrangements. U-Haul's own Jobs webpage lists several current work from home (WFH) positions, mandating for each of them that applicants must:
"...have your own computer (not compatible with MAC operating systems), a reliable cable or DSL broadband internet connection and you must purchase your own headset."
The majority of U-Haul's WFH positions involve work that can be effectively completed from anywhere, such as customer support and sales tasks. Although the company's Center Sales and Reservations department is open 24/7, WFH employees are only mandated to sacrifice one weekend day per week and work holidays. Of course, given that even these work days are done at home, working weekends or holidays hardly carries the same dread or stigma that it does inside a cubicle. Moreover, U-Haul generously offers "paid training, flexible hours, moonlighters (part time) and temporary positions" to remote work applicants who possess strong verbal skills, computer literacy and a clear speaking voice.
Back on June 30, 2008, the Work At Home Mom Revolution blog reported that American Airlines had begun seeking applications for a limited number of work at home positions. Applicants from in or around Fort Worth, TX or Tuscon AZ were preferred, and the work to be done involved booking flight reservations for new and existing American Airlines customers.
Requirements for these highly desirable jobs were not extraordinarily high: the ability to read, write and speak fluent English, a modicum of basic computer skills and the willingness to work a variety of shifts were the only criteria mentioned by Work At Home Mom Revolution and the Careers section of AmericanAirlines.com.
A 2008 CNN story described the work at home positions being made available at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. While a pediatric hospital might seem like an odd organization to experiment with remote work arrangements, the hospital has found that many of its nurses and medical transcriptionists can work quite effectively from home. Remote nurses staff the hospital's Advice Line, "a hotline where Laurie Peterson, one of the Advice Line nurses, has been working for CHOA from home for 11 years."
As part of her job duties, Peterson takes calls ranging from simple questions to emergencies, then dispenses recommendations and advice based on the conversations. Best of all, she finds that she can help both local families as well as those calling in from anywhere in the world - all from home.
Online flower retailer 1-800-Flowers.com periodically posts work at home positions on its company website. Although they are generally temporary positions, job seekers can apply to work from home as sales or service specialists. Alternatively, they can apply to assist the 1-800-Flowers.com Customer Service department, provided they have a reliable home broadband Internet connection and headset.
Currently available work at home positions require that applicants reside in Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Illinois ,Montana, New Hampshire New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon, or Virginia, as well as possessing strong sales and verbal communication skills.
Xerox not only allows some of its employees to work from home, but now proudly embraces it as part of their corporate culture. On a company webpage about work-life balance, Xerox offers the stories of several employees whose lives have benefited from being able to do their jobs at home. Willie Robinson, a Xerox community education program manager, said the following of his remote work arrangement:
"I have plenty of flexibility to work from home during the work week if I need to. "I wanted to show my daughters (15 and 17 years old) that if you want something and you pursue it with reckless abandon, you can accomplish great things."
Aetna has taken larger strides than perhaps any other large company to extend work at home opportunities to its workforce. Telework Program head Eileen Levin told CNN that their program "started as a grassroots initiative to keep talented employees when there were site considerations." Started around 2005, the program has unsurprisingly become a big hit with employees. Since the start of the program, "participation has jumped 300 percent" with around 10,000 Aetna employees (good for 27% of their work force) working from home as of 2008.
In order to be eligible for remote work privileges, Aetna verifies that the home office you will be working in is a "stable, business-friendly environment" as well as whether the job itself is suitable for remote completion.
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