The demise of my 7–3 office grind and how I got into working from home with my pajamas on.
Allow me to be brutal on this one. Being regularized at work isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Now I know I can’t just sit all day at my office desk, thinking I still have a job tomorrow and the day after that as long as I do one heck of a job. Nope, my perspective on that thing has terribly changed.
One September evening as I came home from work, all employees from our previous company received one of the scariest emails of our lives, and it came from our CEO in Australia.
It was a day like any other, and I can clearly remember our company President in the Philippines announcing there’s pizza in the pantry for us to feast on. I had vivid memories of that day being fun, especially when we munched mouthfuls of those greasy, thick-crusted pies. Little did we know that would be the last time we’d share one in the pantry where I’ve held so many dear memories.
God, I wished I didn’t eat one! It’s like the company saying, “Hey, here’s a pizza. May that serve as a band-aid for the bloodletting that’s about to happen.” The worse part was we enjoyed that little band-aid as it reached our hungry mouths.
The email was short, more like a breakup text message. There’s an expression of regret and an ambiguous statement of how the company has run into financial difficulties. Then there’s the heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, nerve-racking sentence, “PLEASE do not report to work going forward [sic] we are now closed for business”.
For a freshly minted mom like me, the world felt crumbling beneath my feet.
No one knew it could and would definitely happen. At least that’s the collective thinking of the people who worked so hard at the bottom of the chain. There was no warning or a hint that could have saved our sorry asses from Armageddon. We were all sinking into the proverbial shithole with a lot of unanswered questions and unfinished client tasks. More so, our Aussie clients had no inkling of what befell the company had not for our initiative to inform them of what happened. And whilst doing that, we had high hopes they would save us (VEs) from our desperate situation. We were left to pick up the pieces. Some were lucky, others were not.
“There was no warning or a hint that could have saved our sorry asses from Armageddon.”
What I Do for a Living
To those who are still curious as to what I did for a living, I was a Virtual Employee (VE)/ Virtual Assistant (VA) in a BPO company. So what does a VE do?
A lot! But allow me to explain further.
I first came into the company as a content writer and became one of its pioneers for the Digital Marketing Team in 2014. I solely focused on writing stuff for a Digital Marketing startup in Australia, writing thousands of words for a full 9 hours with a daily output of 8 articles on average.
However, when my client could no longer afford me, he had to let me go despite our good working relationship. That was when I explored more of my skills and honed them to secure more clients.
I booked more clients and took on more jobs, juggling them in a day. I did content writing/ blogging, social media management, email management & marketing, website creation & management, graphics designing, bookkeeping, appointment setting, chat support, and almost anything my Australian and Kiwi clients requested for me to do. In short, I have become a “Jill of all trades”.
I consider this a job not for the faint of heart. To be a VE/VA means stepping out of your comfort zone. My abilities to quickly adapt and learn new stuff had finally paid off.
Aside from the nice pay raises I get every now and then, I was working on a day shift from 7am-3pm without any take home assignments to worry about. To a 25-year old, that’s the place to be. Career advancement-wise, not so much. But hey! I had the chance to do what I love!
Yes, I’m bitter that the company I serviced for 3 years left us hanging in the air. But that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for all the good and the bad things that happened to me there. After all, they helped me put food on the table, satisfy my lifestyle, and pay my bills. Working in a company gave me a lot of avenues to grow and become holistic, not to mention becoming professional and disciplined in my trade.
What I will miss the most is the company of my colleagues; their presence kept me going in times when I felt like tendering my resignation in search for greener pastures.
My VA Life as a Freelance
After the company’s downfall, I was lucky my clients didn’t hesitate to take me under their wing. Despite their disappointment in the company, they didn’t want to lose us individually, and that is because of the significant contributions that we do to their businesses.
Moreover, they’re able to save a lot of money now that we work for them directly. I had one client who said they used to pay the company $19 per hour for my services! I don’t charge them that much now that I’m freelancing.
“These clients have been with me for years, and I treasure their trust like gold.”
Every wonderful thing you’ve heard about working remotely is true. Here are some cool things about working from home that I’ve experienced:
- I have more control of how my time is spent
- I get to watch my little pumpkin grow
- I work on mind-boggling tasks in my pajamas
- I’m in a less stressful environment
- I have less distractions
- I become more productive
- I’ve eliminated the long commuting hours that I dread the most
The downside in all of these is that it could get lonely sometimes. Plus, I don’t get paid during holidays or when I take a vacation leave.
Most virtual employees like me charge our clients by the hour, depending on the skills we offer. We get paid in dollars; hence, when the Philippine peso is down, we rejoice in secret.
Currently, I am happy with how much I bring home every month. I don’t go crazy with the schedule and I don’t have sleepless nights thinking about unfinished projects. I don’t have to fight tooth and nail for competitive positions that could get me overworked in the end. The biggest blessing of all is that I am able to spend more time with my family- that’s something most of us only dream of.