Ask LH: How Can I Succeed In A Job Based On The Road?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m one of the final applicants for a new state sales role that is completely based on the road. As I’ve always been at a desk in an office this is both exciting and scary! What sort of things will I need to be aware of when traveling around the state selling and working from home? They are also offering a car allowance — how does that work and what do I need to keep in mind? Thanks, On The Road

Salesperson picture from Shutterstock

Dear OTR,

We’d definitely like to hear from readers who have been in this position. We’d offer up the following basic tips as crucial to making this work:

  • Schedule (and keep) a weekly appointment with your manager That’s essential to ensure you’re meeting targets, are aware of broader company developments, and don’t feel isolated from the company at large.
  • Set a schedule when you’re working from home You should still aim to keep “office hours” even when there isn’t an office. Getting dressed and “going to work” makes the process much simpler.
  • Make sure you eat properly Working from home and travelling can encourage bad dietary habits. Check out our detailed guide on how to keep your diet healthy.
  • Make sure you have back-up power for your phone Modern smart phones make working on the road much easier, but also chew through power like nobody’s business. Invest in an in-car charger and backup batteries so you’re not caught out.

On the car allowance front — keep a close eye on your costs and make sure that the allowance actually covers both what you spend directly (on fuel and maintenance) and the depreciation in value of your car. Also remember that if you’re being paid an allowance, you won’t be able to claim car-related expenses directly against your tax. Given the complexities involved, consulting with an accountant or tax professional definitely makes sense.

Good luck! Again, if readers have their own tips to share, we’d love to hear them in the comments.


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