The cost for mothers working from home
The appeal of working from home is undeniable, especially for mothers who have a hands-on approach in raising their kids.
“I can work in the comfort of my own home. Bisan wa’y ligo, wala’y toothbrush, maka-trabaho ra gihapon ko (Even if I haven’t taken a shower or brushed my teeth, I can still work),” 32-year old Marnie May Tamag said, pointing out she has no co-workers to offend.
But more importantly for Marnie is the peace of mind that working at home brings to her. “I am accessible to my kids. I don’t have to worry or imagine what is going on with them like when I was still working in an office,” said Marnie, who quit her job as a call center agent because she couldn’t handle hearing the phantom cries of her child.
For Jilda Aying, 34, the decision to quit her management job at a call center didn’t come easy. The risk she took was calculated. She made back-up plans if her decision didn’t pan out but, as it turned out she needn’t have worried. Working from home afforded her greater earning power. Two kids later, she possesses full control over her schedule.
Depending on the number of working hours and the rate negotiated upon with foreign companies, work-from-home moms can earn between P20,000 to P90,000 a month. The money is transferred either through bank-to-bank or it goes to the Paypal account of the freelancer and then withdrawn through their bank account. PayPal is an online payment service that allows individuals and businesses to transfer funds electronically.
But working from home doesn’t come without a price.
“When you work from home, everything goes away,” Ivy Marie Sandiego, 34, who works as a virtual assistant for a musical ensemble, said. There’s no company-paid health insurance. Ivy said she is fortunate that she and her kids are still covered by her husband’s health insurance. With the high cost of hospitalization, most freelancers invest in getting their own health insurance to cover for their medical emergencies.
All the necessary paperwork and government contributions have to be processed personally, such as voluntary payments to the SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG Fund and BIR.
Another disadvantage in working from home is that there’s no tech guy from the IT department who will come running when you complain your computer is acting funny.
Jilda said she was forced to learn to troubleshoot and reformat her own laptop. Ivy maintains a subscription to two Internet providers because without a stable Internet connection, your ability to keep an online job will be jeopardized.
Freelancers also invest in good computer systems. Marnie owns a laptop and a desktop, in case one goes awry then there’s always a back-up.
Because there is no employer-employee relationship, work-from-home moms need to work even harder especially since they have kids to put through school. Security of tenure does not exist for them. “That worries me sometimes, if the client doesn’t like you, wala…goodbye!” Jilda said.
While clients can cancel anytime, Ivy is optimistic that there will always be work available especially with First World countries looking for cheaper labor.
Marnie said there isn’t really much of a difference task-wise between working from home and working in an office. She even works longer hours now, totalling 80 hours per week including the weekends. With a flexible work schedule, Marnie is fortunate that she still manages to get a good night’s sleep.
But for Ivy and Jilda, a good night’s sleep is rare. Ivy sleeps about 4-5 hours a day and works 60 hours a week. Jilda works 65-68 hours a week and gets to sleep a total of 6 hours a day spread throughout the day.
“I sleep an hour in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon, and 3 hours in the evening. I don’t feel well anymore if I sleep for more than four hours.” Jilda realizes that this is unhealthy and that’s why she plans to put up her own call center in the future.
What It Takes
Working from home is not for everybody. Performance is key. “Clients are not very particular with your academic achievement. They don’t care what you did.
It’s what you can do that matters,” Ivy said, speaking from seven years of experience working online.
“You need to have strong work ethics. Don’t just stick to one (ability). You have to give them an idea of your talents. If there’s a problem, find a solution. Show them that you can work independently,” Jilda said.
More importantly, Marnie says, make sure it’s legitimate work. She has had experiences with clients contracting her services then after she’s done her part, would disappear without paying her.
Here are some ways to get started working from home: ask friends if they know of an online job opening; online job hunting; and approaching clients directly for work by selling your abilities. Remember, always have a back-up plan.
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