In recent years, remote work has become a popular topic of discussion among employers and employees alike, and many jobs can now be done remotely. But what is a remote job and what does it entail?
Simply put, a remote job is one where you work outside of a traditional office setting. This can include working from home, working while traveling, or working from a coworking space. You probably know people who work remotely, but if you want to know whether this lifestyle is for you, dive in and learn everything there is to know before you make your decision.
What Is Remote Work?
Remote work is a type of employment that allows employees to work from outside of the traditional office. With it, employees can choose to work from home, a coffee shop, or any other location with an internet connection. There are many benefits to remote jobs, such as increased flexibility and freedom, no need for expensive commuting costs, and the ability to work from anywhere in the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the lives of pretty much everyone around the world, with one of the main changes being how people work. Some employees who were forced to work remotely during the pandemic later chose to continue working that way, even when it was safe to return to the office. If you’re considering going remote, we have a few useful tips to prepare you for working from home.
Understanding the Terms
We often hear terms like remote work, working from home, flex work, and telecommuting used interchangeably when referring to any work done outside of the office. However, there are some slight differences you should be aware of when understanding these terms.
Remote work: If you’re working remotely, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working from home. You can choose any location with a reliable internet connection, as long as you find it comfortable for working. Indeed, many people set their homes up as their offices, but many others prefer coffee shops, coworking spaces, or even exotic destinations like the beach or the mountains.
Work from home: Working from home is a pretty self-explanatory term. Employees who use this option work from their home offices and can do full-time or part-time remote work, depending on what works for them and their employer.
Flex work: Flex work refers to the option of creating your own flexible schedule without having to work eight hours per day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flex work is not always associated with remote work. Companies with staff in different time zones often allow this type of work so that employees’ hours overlap. With this type of organization, you can discuss when and for how long you want to work.
Telecommuting: The term telecommuting is a bit outdated; it was used mainly for professionals who worked in customer support, sales, and marketing who used “telecommunication” or phones in order to communicate with their coworkers. Today, telecommuting refers to remote work with occasional visits to the office.
Basic Requirements for Successful Remote Work
Any team that aims to meet its targets while providing both employee and client satisfaction needs to have a strong organizational structure and a willingness to adapt to a new business model. Some of the key aspects necessary for a team to thrive while working remotely are:
- Impeccable connectivity: High-quality computers, smartphones, and a reliable and strong internet connection are paramount for working remotely. The internet connection has to be reliable and as fast as possible, and the equipment needs to be able to support long and intensive use without crashing or requiring frequent maintenance.
- Tools for communication and collaboration: Team members need to be able to share, connect, and communicate throughout the day using the appropriate platforms. The sensitive data that is sent from one employee to another needs to be safeguarded from any potential breaches, so these tools need to be well-designed, fast, and secure. You need software that can provide seamless video calls, chats, and other forms of collaboration.
- Positive company culture: High-achieving teams that work remotely understand that their success doesn’t depend on team members being physically present, or even working in the same time zone. Instead, they create a positive work environment that’s focused on results and an atmosphere in which employees feel appreciated and comfortable while achieving everything that’s expected from them, whether in the office or remotely.
Different Types of Remote Work
Depending on the scheduling model, there are two types of structures a remote employee may find themselves working in. This is usually organized based on whether or not the team members live in the same time zones.
Synchronous work: With this model, all employees must log in at the same time and work (roughly) the same hours. This is great for roles that involve interacting with customers during set business hours, or for when team members need to regularly communicate or attend meetings.
Asynchronous work: This system doesn’t require employees to log in at the same time as the rest of the team. In such organizations, work is done mostly independently, and remote workers can decide when to start and finish. They only need to work the number of hours required of them and make sure their tasks are completed.
Apart from the distinction between when to finish and start work, there are also different types of remote work based on how flexibly team members can organize their time. Some companies have strict rules for remote work, while others offer many different options for employees to consider. Here are the most common remote work models.
- Option for remote work: These are not remote companies, but in some cases they will allow their employees to take a day or two to work from a remote location if they have an emergency, or if it’s easier for them to work remotely on those particular days due to their personal schedule. These are sometimes called “flex days,” and some companies now offer the option to work Monday or Friday remotely.
- Temporarily remote: Temporarily remote companies work this way continuously for a period of time until they go back to the office. Many companies embraced this model during the pandemic; they knew they’d go back to the traditional way of working at some point, but decided to keep the team work remotely until it became safe to return.
- Remote-first: These companies are considered remote, but they might also have an office that is sometimes used for meetings. Team members can visit it from time to time when it suits them.
- Hybrid model: Companies that opt for this model have some team members working fully remotely and some in-office employees. There can also be some employees who split their time between working remotely and in the office.
- Fully remote: These companies do everything remotely; they do not have offices, so all communication is done online or over the phone. These companies typically host gatherings such as team buildings, but there are no offices for employees to visit.
Jobs That Can Be Done Remotely
The list of jobs that can be done remotely is long, and it’s getting longer as more and more companies try out this business model. Professionals who work in graphic design, web development, marketing, sales, and content creation are in the perfect position to benefit from remote work. And while industries such as finance, defense, and healthcare were much slower to allow their employees to work remotely, there are now some signs of this changing, too.
The most common remote jobs are:
- Content creator
- Sales representative
- Web designer
- Customer support representative
- Marketing manager
- Project manager
- Software engineer
- Data analyst
Finding a Remote Job
If you want to get a remote job, you must be well-prepared. Firstly, work on your CV to make sure it’s spotless.
When it comes to the job hunt, note that some companies won’t use the wording “remote work,” so be on the lookout for job posts described with words such as “telecommuting” or that mention “work-life balance.”
Also, if you find a job that offers remote work and you want to work fully remotely, make sure you’re not applying for a “flex work” option, as that may require you to work from the office sometimes. You can look on a number of proven websites that offer remote work and start applying.
Remember that many scammers use remote work to disguise their schemes, so always research the company you’re applying for. Finally, if you already have previous experience working remotely, mention that in your application, and be sure to list all of the transferrable skills you’ve picked up along the way.
Remote Work Benefits
There are many perks of remote work, and they’re not limited to better productivity or improved results for the company. Both businesses and employees can gain a lot from this type of work. The main advantages include:
- Decreased office costs: Companies that work remotely spend far less money, as there’s no need for a physical office.
- No commuting: If an employee works from home, there’s no need for them to commute to work, which saves a lot of time and money. Instead of spending half an hour driving to work, professionals can relax with a cup of coffee and prepare for the day.
- Better adaptability: In situations when there needs to be a last-minute change for a meeting, virtual teams have the advantage of simply switching to a different virtual channel or rescheduling for an hour or too later. Last-minute changes to an in-person meeting can be much trickier, as people may have to change their travel plans.
- Better hiring and recruiting: When companies hire remote workers, they have the advantage of choosing candidates from many locations. They can also interview far more candidates, and for those they hire, they won’t have to pay for hefty relocation packages.
Remote Work Disadvantages
Before you decide to work remotely, there are a few things to consider. Although there are some great perks to working remotely, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
- Work-life balance concerns: While many people find it easy to balance their work and life by working remotely, others can find themselves blurring the lines between these two things. For some, staying at home while working can mean that they never truly switch off, and find themselves completing work tasks well outside of standard hours.
- Loneliness: Even though many find it easier to be at home and focus on their tasks, at some point, employees might feel isolated because they don’t get the chance to see and hang out with their coworkers. This can bring a certain level of monotony into their lives, and the fact that they’re alone at home can affect both their satisfaction and productivity.
- Distractions: At other times, people can be distracted by their family, their TV, or simply their surroundings. In these situations, it might be challenging to stay focused, as there are many things that might distract remote workers from what needs to be done.
- More meetings: This isn’t always the case, but having employees working remotely means that you can’t just drop by their office and check in with them. This can result in longer and more frequent scheduled meetings.
Misconceptions Around Remote Work
While many people have adopted remote work, those who haven’t may still be slightly prejudiced against the idea. Below are a few of the negative preconceptions people have about remote work.
- Remote workers aren’t productive: Some people assume that just because your remote job involves working from home or a coffee shop, you’re actually idle most of the time and you only do the bare minimum. This is not the case; many teams are doing splendid work, and their numbers look great. Besides, some people’s productivity actually increases when they’re not surrounded by other people.
- Remote workers require a lot of technical support: This belief is pretty common, but it’s far from true. Most jobs require standard computers and equipment, but you probably already have that at home. It is true that there are jobs that might require additional apps or hardware, but the average remote worker doesn’t need anything out of the ordinary in order to do their job.
- Remote workers work non-stop: The reason why some workers opt for remote work is that they want to organize their time better. However, like any other employee, they clock out once their work is done for the day. It’s also not in the employer's interest to have their staff work too much, as this can lead to burnout.
While there are some tangible pros and cons to this model of work, it’s really down to the individual whether or not they’re cut out for it. Now that the meaning of remote work, its benefits, and its disadvantages are clear, you can take a moment to decide whether you’d like to stay in the office or explore a whole new experience.