Do I Have What It Takes for Remote Work? (Jen’s Midlife Career Adventure-Part 2)

“I’ve learned more in the last year”, I recently told my husband, “than most people learn in 10!”

This is what happens to me when I am set free, or set adrift (as it first seemed), from a job that has provided my livelihood, and much of my sense of identity, for almost 20 years.

I scrambled for information as a way of steadying myself, finding my bearings, after an unexpected layoff.

As I concluded in part 1 of this series, local jobs can’t provide the type of work or income that I need, so I am forced to search online for greener pastures.

And they don’t call it the “worldwide” web for nothin’.  I have dived into a seemingly endless expanse of opportunities, information, and every kind of marketing under the sun.

With a vague sense of wanting to work online, I let myself be pulled and pushed by the tides of information, wanting to get a real sense of all that is available to me.

After enduring much seasickness and information overload, I was eventually able to narrow my focus to a few viable options.

I decided to:

  • sign up for Flex Jobs, a source of vetted job opportunities including the remote, online work I am looking for;
  • enroll in school to complete my bachelor’s degree with a special program that gives credit for prior knowledge and work experience;
  • take one or more free or inexpensive courses to learn javascript computer programming, a valuable skill to enhance my job prospects.

First, the Flex Jobs.  Finding remote, telecommuting work hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped.  Yes, there are a lot of online jobs, and yes, I do have administrative, customer service, writing, purchasing and other skills sought by remote employers.

The problem seems to be – and this is an odd thing to realize – the world of remote work seems to be dysfunctional to some degree.  Maybe this isn’t such an odd thing when you realize that this phenomenon – working by computer from home for a distant company – is a pretty new thing on the employment scene.  Ten years ago, it was quite the rarity, and now about 20% of employees work remotely at times, and estimates show that it will be around 40% by 2019.

Because it is relatively new, there are still parts that seen to need tweaking.  One company I applied with for customer service, admitted forthrightly that their remote hiring process is “broken”. They have started a “trial work period” with new remote employees (usually 1 to 3 months) before a full commitment is made by either side.  They said that past employees they thought were a good fit turned out not to be, so they are trying this new approach.

I’ve had several interviews for remote positions and my impression is that employers are trying to control the hiring process in such fine detail that they are losing sight of the bigger picture.

Why the need for such control?  It seems that employers – no matter how much they do it – still don’t like the very idea of an employee they can’t see, working in another place, and not subject to the scrutiny offered by close proximity.  Although everyone knows that is is quite easy for an employee working right under one’s nose to waste time, if so inclined, without a manager catching on.

Employees are never under complete control and, in my experience, the best way to get good work and work ethics is to hire someone with a reputation for trustworthiness and desirable skill sets.

Yet, online the old ways don’t always work, which I will discuss in my next post.

Until then,



Author: Jen

I want to explore everything, from the mundane to the momentous, the playful to the profound. Nothing is insignificant and everything is related. I’m particularly fond of the mysteries contained in everyday life. Freelancing is my latest adventure, and I’d love for you to come along!

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