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How to Find Work-Life balance with Flexible Jobs: Follow-up Interview with Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs

March 5th, 2013 No comments
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Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, which provides legitimate, professional telecommuting and work from home jobs that promote work-life balance.

Are you considering a transition to or looking for resources on work from home jobs? Where do you begin the search, and how do you find safe, reliable job listings? We got a chance to conduct a follow-up interview with Sara Sutton Fell, the founder and CEO of FlexJobs to learn more about telecommuting roles, tips on how to spot spam listings, and the dynamic of work from home jobs today.

To recap, Sara Fells first started FlexJobs when she was pregnant with her first child and searching for a job that would allow her to balance her home and work life. Finding a number of telecommuting scams instead, she was inspired to find a resource for others that would allow reliable, legitimate job offerings. Thus, FlexJobs was born and is the helpful resource it is today for many job seekers searching for telecommuting roles. Find part one of the interview here.

1. How has the environment of work from home jobs changed from the start of FlexJobs to its current day?

Back in 2007 when we founded FlexJobs, working from home was just starting to become part of most people’s professional worlds. People may have known someone (or knew someone who knew someone) who worked from home, but it was still relatively new. Today, working from home is a common strategy used by companies looking to recruit and retain the best professionals, and the chances are very good that we all know someone who works from home at least part of the time. To give you some perspective, in 2009, we regularly posted about 4,000 available job listings on our site (including telecommuting and other flexible jobs). Today, we’re consistently posting over 13,000 available jobs.

2. Work from home jobs change the traditional office dynamic. Instead of spending all of one’s working hours in a group of co-workers, a person working from home has more flexibility in when and how to connect. What are some ways to maintain strong communication while working from home? How does this flexibility benefit workers?

I honestly think that communicating with coworkers when you work from home is very similar to when you work from an office. At least over the last several years, office-bound workers communicate through phone and email most of the time, with in-person meetings and impromptu stop-bys also included.

So the main trick is to figure out what parts of communication are missed when you work from home, and figure out ways to supplement those. Informal conversations in hallways and break rooms are a good example. Instead of this, telecommuters have to consciously make the decision to start “small talk” conversations with each other. Good managers of telecommuters are, on a daily basis, looking for ways to start these casual conversations.

Tools like instant messenger, company message boards like Yammer, and traditional tools like phone and e-mail are all great ways to encourage these types of conversations. At FlexJobs, our team talks regularly through Yammer and has lively discussions about food, movies, family, vacations, and other water-cooler topics. And we manage to fit in some great, collaborative, work-related conversations, too!

3. What would you describe is the main benefit of changing to a telecommuting role based on your personal experience?

There are two answers for this – one for employers and one for employees.

As an employee, I have to say the main benefit is freedom or control. The ability to trade your daily commute for a home office means more time for whatever it is you want out of life- family, hobbies, friends, you name it. It may not seem like much, but because I work from home, I’m able to bring our two young sons to school, and pick them up when their school day is done. These moments are priceless to me and it’s because I work from home that I get to enjoy them.

For employers, the benefits have to do with productivity and cost-savings. Several studies have come out over the last couple years clearly showing that telecommuters are more productive, more efficient, more satisfied, and less likely to quit than office-bound professionals. And employers, by letting their workforce work from home, save huge amounts on real estate, technology, turnover, and missed productivity.

4. Spam and false advertising are one of the biggest complaints of job seekers looking for work from home positions. How can they spot a bad job listing? How does FlexJobs help job seekers find quality jobs?

Scam jobs take many forms, so it’s important for job seekers looking for telecommuting or work from home jobs to do their homework and stay aware. Here are some of the ways to spot a scam job:

1. Be careful of the keywords you use to search. “Work from home” is a phrase associated with lots of scams and pyramid schemes. Instead, try safer words like “remote work,” “telework,” and “telecommuting.”

2. Be aware of the warning signs of scam jobs: Jobs are almost certainly a scam if they promise easy money for easy work, if they require you to “invest” or pay a fee to get the job, or if they use all capitalized letters or lots of !!! and $$$ punctuation.

3. Know the most-used scams: Common work-from-home scams include repackaging products, survey taking, stuffing envelopes, and building crafts. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

4. Be cautious about unsolicited e-mails: E-mails from unknown sources that promise to find you work-from-home jobs should be ignored completely, and of course deleted.

5. If you think you’ve found a scam, ask yourself these questions to be sure:

  • Is the hiring company’s name listed in the job listing?
  • Do you need to pay to get the job?
  • Does the job listing sound too good to be true?
  • Does the company ask you to provide your social security number, driver’s license number, credit card number, or bank information?
  • Does the job sound like any of the following common work at home scams? Unsolicited contact, wire transfer, stuffing envelopes, data entry, assembly work, multi-level marketing or pyramid scheme, shipping manager, rebate processor

FlexJobs’ mission is to provide job seekers with a safer job search experience while they look for telecommuting jobs and other flexible jobs. We have a team of job researchers who spend a combined 50+ hours every day searching for legitimate telecommuting jobs. They weed through scams to find new job listings and employers, then screen each employer to make sure they’re a legitimate company offering a real job. Only then is the job posted to FlexJobs, so job seekers who use our site are guaranteed to find only legitimate telecommuting and flexible jobs.

5. How have employer attitudes changed towards work from home jobs in recent years? What has caused more employers to offer flexible jobs to their employees?

For one, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds so it’s much easier for employers to have a remote workforce. Internet speeds are much better, personal computers and business networks are very advanced, and the average professional’s knowledge of and competence with office technology has greatly improved.

Management styles have also changed which is necessary for a thriving at-home employee base. Employers rely less on the “I need to see you working to know you’re working” model and managers are better prepared to manage employees remotely.

And finally, employers are seeing huge cost benefits to offering flexible jobs. The Telework Research Network has an inspiring list of the cost benefits of letting employees telecommute – http://www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com/resources/costs-benefits.

 

 

Find Work-Life Balance with Flexible Jobs: Interview with Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs

July 12th, 2012 No comments

In the attempt to create work life balance, more and more people are looking for jobs with the option to work from home.  Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs experienced that issue herself before she decided to do something and help others encountering this problem.  Today we interviewed Sara Sutton Fell to see how she is helping people find job opportunities that offer flexibility.

1. To start, tell us a little of your background and what lead you to create FlexJobs.

Well, I started out by co-founding my first company, JobDirect, as a 21-year-old junior in college. JobDirect was a job search website geared towards entry-level jobs and we were able to grow our team to 100 people in four years before selling to Korn|Ferry International in 2000. It was an amazing, challenging and hugely rewarding experience, and I realized how much I enjoyed helping to create an idea in which I truly believed. Which leads me to FlexJobs…

In 2007 I was pregnant with my first child and searching for a job that would provide a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home but still allow me to pursue my career. I was overwhelmed at the number of scams in the work from home job niche and this experience gave me the idea for FlexJobs, a place where job seekers could find pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level telecommuting jobs that offer work-life balance. I knew these types of jobs existed and thought that other job seekers would appreciate being able to find them in one place, with no scams or junk mixed in.

Largely in part of my previous experience in the online employment industry, and as an entrepreneur, starting a company to help solve this job search problem seemed to be within my reach.  I’m thrilled to say that five years later and FlexJobs is the leading job service of its kind!

2. What kinds of job seekers does FlexJobs cater to?  Who are your most predominant users?

Really, FlexJobs caters to any job seeker who wants flexible work options in their career;  some of the most common reasons are work-life balance, reduced commutes, economic and/or environmental reasons, among many others.  People who want jobs that offer flexible schedules, part-time schedules, freelance contracts, and telecommuting options are the ones coming to FlexJobs. Specifically, we often see working moms (and dads!), people who live in rural areas or economically depressed areas, retirees, military spouses, people with health issues, and people looking for supplementary income.  Our job-seekers really come from all different walks of life though, and people want work flexibility for all kinds of reasons.

3. Telecommuting and having a flexible schedule seem like a dream for many people, but it can be a big transition from a traditional office environment. What are some of the challenges you faced in transitioning to a flexible work arrangement? What advice would you give to someone looking to make this change?

Absolutely – some of the biggest challenges I found myself grappling with included time management, creating a clear line between work and home, not staying too isolated, and communicating with my team. Luckily, technology makes it incredibly easy to deal with most of these challenges. To set boundaries between my work life and home life, I actually created a home office above my garage so that I “go to work” every day. And when I leave the office at the end of the day, I really do leave the office. I would recommend that people who work from home set up an office that is away from the busy parts of the house – a spare bedroom, for example.

Communicating with coworkers just means setting up a variety of ways to chat, meet, and talk – message boards, instant messenger, email, phone, Skype, the possibilities are endless! And to get your people fix, try working from a coffee shop or library every once and a while, or scheduling lunch with a friend or coworker (if you live in the same area) regularly. Or, if you have a flexible schedule, schedule an activity in the middle of the day that gets you up, out of the office, and interacting with other people like a gym class or volunteering.

4. Many of our readers are struggling with long term unemployment and having difficulty finding work near where they live. How could they use FlexJobs to improve their career prospects?

With so many pockets of the country dealing with poor employment prospects, FlexJobs is able to offer job seekers a way to find employment that isn’t being offered in their geographic area. For example, we had one job seeker who didn’t want to leave her small town in Idaho, but couldn’t find work. Through FlexJobs, she was able to find work with a company based in Florida. (http://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/found-a-job-telecommuting-from-small-town/)

Telecommuting opens up economic opportunity for sure. In our job search section, job seekers can narrow their search results by state, region, or country. They can also select “US National Jobs” which can be done from anywhere in the US, or “Anywhere Jobs” which can be done from anywhere around the world. These are the easiest ways to locate employers who are willing to hire people outside of their physical location, and they can certainly help people who are unemployed and living in a place still reeling from the recession.