Remote work is a trend that has been gaining popularity over recent years. There’s no doubt that despite all the difficulties the pandemic came with, expanding the availability of remote jobs has been one of the biggest benefits. The proliferation of online work and collaboration platforms like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams has allowed a lot more flexibility within the workforce.
In years past, it was unheard of to have a job where you didn’t have to go into the office every day. The growing push for remote jobs started with the digital revolution, allowing employers to provide hybrid schedules for their employees, where they would have set days that they came into the office and Saturdays that they worked from home. The increasing ability of collaboration and video conferencing platforms to provide all of the conveniences and connections you would have while working in the office, despite being in your home, is allowing employers to offer full-time virtual roles. If you’re wondering how to get in on this growing trend, read along to find out how you can work remotely and still be a productive and valued employee.
TOP REMOTE JOBS AND INDUSTRIES
Remote roles are not only attractive to employees, but forward-thinking employers are using this movement to reduce their overhead by downsizing office space and attracting skilled employees that prefer remote work. By leaning into remote roles, rather than fighting against them, innovative companies can save money by paying for less square footage, utilities and consumables, all while being an attractive employer for top-tier talent.
While many careers can be adapted to remote work, some are, by nature, more conducive to this style. If your daily workflow sees you making lots of phone calls, sending emails, communicating with clients, or doing in-platform design or writing work, chances are you can easily convert it to a remote role. Requiring a high level of trust from employers, remote jobs are often based on commission, have clear milestones and project deadlines, and are easily measured with key performance indicators (KPIs). Below is a list of the most common remote job titles:
- Teacher/ faculty/ tutor
- Project Manager
- Customer Service Representative (CSR)
- Business Development Manager
- Account Manager
One of the great things about remote work is that there are a lot of freelance opportunities. If you’re considering a career change, you can go after entry-level roles and maintain a full-time in-office schedule until you build up enough experience to move into fully remote work. It can be a bit hectic once you reach the tipping point where your side work is getting busy and it’s tough to juggle both jobs, but it’s all part of the process!
Easing into remote work is also a great way to test the waters and see if a career change suits you. Instead of fully diving into a new type of job, you can take on small freelance projects that fit into your current schedule and see if you think that type of work would suit you on a full-time basis. If so, great! If not, you’ve tried something in a low-risk way, and it might still be something that works for you to make extra money on the side — if not full-time.
IMPROVING YOUR SKILLS
Another plus of the digital movement is that learning new skills can now be done easily online. Instead of gaining new certifications by registering for an in-person night class or attending an off-site training program, employees can now enrich their skillset on their own schedules online. Staying current on new technologies and methods is a top-notch way to help you to stand out from your peers and can be the thing that enables you to beat out the competition for the best roles.
If you’re not sure where to start, working with a career coach can be a great way to help you work out what you want and how to get there. Career coaches specialize in assisting people in distilling their strengths and desires for their careers and will work with you to set up a plan for how to get there.
If you’re thinking about doing some online education, here are a few areas that you could focus on to add another level of knowledge to your resume:
- Digital marketing
- Technical writing
- Project management
- Business management
A new advent in the past decade, remote-first companies work oppositely from remote-friendly companies that are primarily office-based but with some availability for remote roles. The default for remote-first companies is that the majority of their workforce is remote, with only specific essential roles being office-based.
Companies with remote-first cultures often strive to provide team bonding and collaboration opportunities with virtual events like happy hours and training sessions. Employee engagement is still important, but how it’s achieved looks different from traditional companies.
HOW TO FIND A REMOTE JOB
Not every job will be the right fit for you just because it’s remote. Similar to in-office jobs, each company will have its own culture and style, even if you’re remote. Taking time to learn about the company, its culture, and its expectations is critical to finding the best fit for you.
When you’re first getting started looking for a remote role, there are a few apps and websites that you can turn to for opportunities:
- UpWork (freelance only)
Always go through well-known websites when looking for online work, and keep an eye out for scams. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Any job offers that come from strange email addresses that don’t end in the company’s email client are likely bogus unless you can verify that they’re from a legit recruiter.
VIRTUAL RECRUITING PROCESS
GET YOUR INTERNET ON POINT
Remote working is contingent on one central element — your internet. In many cases, employers will require you to submit verification of your internet speeds to be considered for a role. They need to verify that you have a stable and strong internet connection to be confident that you can be reliable. Even if this isn’t a prerequisite for the role, you’ll want to do this anyway since having patchy internet can make you look unreliable — the last thing you want to appear to be to a new employer.
CREATING AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO
Creating an online portfolio can be a huge factor in winning new clients if you’re a freelancer or landing a full-time remote role. Having a quick and easy way for prospective employers to check out your work history can give you a definite edge over people who only submit a written resume. Keeping your portfolio updated and organized, with descriptions of each item, is a great best practice to put your best foot forward.
THE ULTIMATE RESUME
When you’re putting together a resume to target remote roles, some key considerations will make you look even more attractive to potential employers. Making sure your resume is concise and updated is critical, but there are a few more specific things for remote roles. If you verify your internet speed, put that into an information section. Additionally, include your experience and familiarity with common collaboration platforms like Slack and Teams, as well as project management programs like Trello and Redbooth.
NAILING ONLINE INTERVIEWS
Doing a great job in an online interview comes with all the same advice as an in-person interview, with some additional elements to consider. Your lighting, background, and camera position all contribute to your overall image, so ensuring you have a clean backdrop and good natural lighting is essential. In addition, take time to test your video beforehand so that you can ensure your camera angle presents you in the best way.
WORKING REMOTELY 101
OPTIMIZING YOUR WIFI
If you’re finding that your home wifi connection isn’t as stable as you’d like, there are some easy fixes you can try. If you can’t move your router closer to your workspace, consider installing a wifi range extender to gain a stronger connection.
On the topic of wifi, be wary of working from coffee shops and other public wifi networks. The security is minimal and you risk having sensitive data stolen from your laptop. Unless you can connect to a private VPN, it’s best to only work from secure networks
CREATING A SCHEDULE
Creating and sticking to a schedule is critical for people who work from home to maintain productivity and consistency. Chances are, whatever worked best for you in the office to organize your day will also work best for you when you’re working from home. Routines help us structure our days, which applies whether you’re working in an office setting or at home. Take some time and experiment with what type of routine works the best for you and what helps you stay consistently productive throughout each day, and make an effort to stick to that. It can be tempting to stray from routines when working from home because of the increased amount of flexibility. However, doing this can result in a varying level of productivity which usually spells trouble.
For other work-from-home employees, setting boundaries is incredibly important. It’s an easy habit to fall into to let random and spontaneous plans guide your day, but it rarely leads to good outcomes in your work life. Whether it’s letting your family know that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’re available to them throughout the day or enforcing a schedule for yourself, it’s essential to set boundaries.
MAKING IT BIG AS A FREELANCER
Being a freelance employee means you work for yourself and contract out timelines or projects with clients instead of working for one employer full-time. There are many benefits to freelancing, including scheduling flexibility, choosing projects that interest you, and having the freedom to work where and when suits your lifestyle the best.
This isn’t to say that being a freelancer is all rainbows and puppy dogs, though. It comes with an increased risk of uncertainty and where your future income will come from, as well as the trials and tribulations of dealing with clients as a business owner daily. Learning to deal with demanding clients is a part of the freelance learning curve and you will make some mistakes and learn from them along the way, eventually finding your groove if you decide that freelance is the way to go for you.
BECOMING A DIGITAL NOMAD
People often mistake remote work for a digital nomad lifestyle, but the two aren’t necessarily the same. Well, digital nomads do technically work from home — home can be wherever they find themselves at the moment. Typical work from home employees do actually work from their homes. They have an address and a more traditional lifestyle that just happens to include working from home instead of a classic in-office space. Digital nomads, on the other hand, travel the globe while also working. This isn’t to say that they don’t have a fixed address, but they find themselves on the road in foreign countries more often than at home.
It’s important if you want to be a digital nomad to ensure that you have a solid understanding of what you need to function efficiently and productively while traveling. Things like ensuring a consistent Wi-Fi connection and knowing your travel schedule will let you be there for your clients and your team while also getting to experience different countries and adventures.
There’s no doubt that there are different points of view on the value of remote jobs. While some take the dim view that employees are less productive and take advantage of employers in a remote work set up, what is increasingly being seen is that people are getting to experience life more fully, spend their time where it means the most to them, and live life in a way that makes them happy. It’s hard to deny that those are great benefits, but they mean that you’ll have to make sure you do your due diligence and are organized, responsible, and reliable. Once you’ve sorted out how that looks for you, there’s no reason that you can’t have an adventurous and fulfilling career working remotely.