Remote work has become extremely popular in recent years. The younger generation preferred working far away from offices as they travel around the world while still earning a living.
I started remote work after leaving my senior associate position in a Big 4 firm. I am an accountant and a lawyer, so I was wired to work the traditional way — in an office cubicle, drafting and reviewing contracts.
But owning a tech business and being a former virtual assistant and online worker made it easier for me to ditch my “traditional” career and pursue remote work. One, I own my time. Second, I can travel around while still earning.
You might have some questions about remote work that need answers before deciding if this career is for you. Naturally, you get hesitations as jumping into working virtually isn’t a smooth transition as one would expect.
So stay with me as I compile a comprehensive guide to remote work, an easy-to-follow outline for those interested to start working online, and combine the flexibility of work hours with our adventurous lifestyle.
Table of Contents
What is Remote Work?
Remote work is simply traditional white-collar jobs done outside of the four walls of offices. The idea is that work tasks are completed, and deliverables are fulfilled without being confined in offices.
With remote work, you no longer need to commute to sprawling office complexes and spend the next eight hours of your workday inside a tiny cubicle working to execute tasks for projects and engagements. On the contrary, remote work allows you to do the same functions but in the comfort of your own home.
It was made possible by the technological advancement in telecommunications and the penetration of the Internet in all of our lives. It created a paradigm shift in the way we work and overall work culture across the globe.
It gives workers a sense of freedom, as you get to visit places and then do work tasks during your work shift. No more planning holidays after securing leave from work, right? It is this flexibility that makes remote work very attractive, especially to the new generation.
How do people work remotely?
As I have mentioned above, technology is the primary driver of remote work becoming more and more available for many. Face-to-face interaction between team members and officemates can now be dispensed due to the massive improvement in video messaging and chat functions.
In the Breaking Barriers 2020 Report released by Fuze, it was found in a survey that at least 83% of the workers find that there is no longer a need to go back to offices after the COVID-19 lockdowns that have swept the globe. It is probably high because computing technology and Internet speed have improved tremendously and things are easily done at home.
An ordinary remote work setup would involve someone working in a workstation at home. It can either be a home office or a dedicated table in a hidden corner of the house.
It is working while physically away from the rest of your team has been possible by messaging applications and project management tools that allow collaboration among multiple individuals, assignment of tasks, sharing of project calendars and timelines, and monitoring of task fulfillment.
Some remote workers prefer to work outside, like cafes and coworking spaces, as they may find working from home problematic on their productivity. For example, some remote workers prefer to create a separation of their work and personal spaces.
But working at public cafes and coworking spaces would still be better compared to working in tiny corporate cubicles as it gives workers the freedom to choose where these cafes or coworking spaces can be located.
Yes, they don’t work from home, but they could be working at a public cafe in Bangkok, Thailand, this month and then a coworking space in Bogota, Colombia, next month. It all boils down to flexibility.
What are the benefits of remote work?
Now that you’ve got an idea of how remote work is done, the next question probably in your mind right now is why career professionals would choose to dump their current jobs and switch to remote work.
There are many benefits that remote work can give to both employers and workers.
Benefits of remote work to Employers
For employers, you can check out our Outsourcing Guide section to learn more about the wonders that remote work can do to your business.
But we can sum it all to these four benefits:
1. Cost savings
The most apparent benefit is on the business’s bottom line. Having your entire or a portion of your entire work staff working from home means a decrease in overhead costs, i.e., rent, as you’ll need zero or smaller rent, utilities, and other office-related expenditures.
When you accumulate savings on monthly rent and office expenses, and they start to stack up, that’s the time you’ll feel the cost savings and how it reflects in your financials. And your cost savings do not stop there.
Since you’re hiring staff for remote work, you can also explore building a team from India, Latin America, and the Philippines, countries with skilled and affordable remote workers. You’ll save up to two-thirds of your total staff cost if you outsource many of your operational activities to these countries.
2. Lesser investment needed
Without the need for a massive office, you’ll need a way lesser investment for the business than the traditional setup as you will no longer need rent for office space and other fixed expenses. Moreover, employers are no longer required to spend on expensive design and renovation costs for workstations, meeting rooms, brainstorming nooks, and pantry.
3. Increase in cash flow
With the cost savings and lesser investment requirement, employers and businesses that have shifted to remote work will consequently enjoy increased cash flow and a highly-improved bottom line in their financials.
4. Having access to a bigger talent pool
Since you’re no longer limited to a specific geographic location, you have virtually expanded your talent pool to the entire globe.
Office-based operations mean you’ll hire applicants who live within the vicinity that can be accessed through the daily commute. On the other hand, remote work opens up businesses to the possibility of hiring talents from different countries and continents, bringing new expertise and competence.
Benefits of remote work to Employees
Remote work has done wonders for many, from improving their quality of life to pursuing different life goals as their remote jobs no longer pose a hurdle.
Below are some of the top benefits of remote work to employees:
1. Flexible lifestyle
The primary reason why workers pursue remote work is the flexibility that it offers. While remote work still requires the traditional eight-hour work shift, the fact that employees are no longer needed to be in an office means traveling to destinations and continuing working during their shift.
It’s no wonder that remote work appeals to people who are always on the go or those with an adventurous lifestyle. In fact, remote work gave birth to the new breed of virtual professionals called digital nomads. They earn a living while traveling around the globe, akin to the nomads who have no fixed habitation.
2. Better for overall health
As reported by Forbes, the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK conducted a study and found out that workers commuting daily to work are 55% more likely to be stressed out.
With remote work, the daily commute is eliminated.
With less time consumed by traveling, remote workers are found to have plenty of time for more worthwhile and physical activities that may result in better health and less stress. Moreover, fewer individuals commuting means fewer carbon emissions, which can help fight against global warming.
3. Better work-life balance
Remote workers are reportedly enjoying better work-life balance than their counterparts in the traditional office setup.
In a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs, 73% of its 4,000 respondents said that working from home has dramatically improved their work-life balance. Remote work has given them more time spent with their loved ones and does more enjoyable things.
What are the drawbacks of remote work?
Even with all the benefits laid out above, remote work is not all rosy and perfect both for employers and workers. Some of the possible drawbacks of remote work are:
- Availability of many distractions at home, e.g., young children or pets that divert attention from work;
- Loneliness as you are working alone at home and only making interactions online;
- Lack of physical interaction and building friendship with workmates or officemates;
- Harder to create a distinction between professional and personal life; and
- Difficulty of unplugging from work given the clear physical boundary between “work” and “personal” spaces.
READ MORE: How to Work From Home with Remote Work
While these drawbacks are valid, it is a matter of weighing the things you prefer and your life’s priority in considering foraying into remote work.
If you want to travel and pursue your active lifestyle, remote work is for you, even if it would mean you’re leaving your work colleagues and the years of friendship built.
In contrast, if you value working with colleagues physically and working from home is not productive, remote work is not for you. Your decision to work remotely is based on your way of life and your life priorities.
When I decided to work remotely, it was more on choosing between freedom vs. being confined in my office cubicle most of the week. I felt that there was more to life than being a corporate slave, so I resigned from my rising career and embarked on this exciting journey.
What jobs can be done remotely?
In general, remote work is possible for many jobs across all industries. And most of the available remote work is those jobs whose bulk of tasks and activities can be carried out online or in a local device that can be transmitted via the Internet.
Some jobs can be modified to make remote work possible. A concrete example is the work of human resource personnel, where face-to-face interviews and on-location recruitment were the norms.
With the growing popularity of virtual interviews and online onboarding, the job of an HR staff has been retrofitted to remote work. And this is most true, especially for remote positions and online jobs.
In a published survey by FlexJobs, the top five most popular roles for remote work are (1) accountants, (2) engineers, (3) tutors, (4) writers, and (5) consultants.