More people are choosing to work remotely than ever before. In fact, according to a Fundera report, the number of regular telecommuting employees (not including the self-employed population) has grown by an impressive 115% since 2005.
The rise in remote working coincides with advancements in technology. Widespread access to WiFi, smartphones and sophisticated communication apps means that many of us don’t need to be in an office for 40-hours a week to do our jobs well.
It’s easy to see why telecommuting (a jargon term for remote working) is proving so popular with both employees and employers. For starters, remote employees save time and money on commuting, and according to the report, 82% report lower stress levels. Less commuting means fewer emissions, so it’s better for the planet too!
Businesses have also realized that a workforce who have the option to work flexibly are more likely to be more productive and stay loyal to the company. What’s more, having less “in-house” members of staff can save a company a lot of money on office space.
So, now that we’ve explored a few of the benefits, let’s take a look at the particulars.
Being a freelancer
Being a freelancer isn’t the same as being a remote employee. Freelancers are self-employed people, sole proprietors who often work for multiple companies at a time. You can freelance in a variety of industries these days, from education to advertising.
Freelancers usually pay their own taxes and can set their own hours. This level of autonomy is attractive to many, especially digital nomads who choose to work from their laptop while traveling the world. Freelance life can be unstable though, and you don’t necessarily have the same rights as an employee
Finding freelance work
Freelancers find clients through word of mouth, inquiries through their website or social channels, by applying for freelance positions online and through “gig” websites like Upwork.
Being a remote employee
As a remote employee, you’re still an “employee” of the company and should have access to some of the benefits an in-house employee does. Increasingly, companies are allowing individuals to work remotely at least part of the time; say, for one or two days a week.
This type of arrangement suits a lot of people well as it strikes a nice balance. When applying for remote positions, it’s important to find out what your employer’s expectations will be, whether you can work in the house occasionally if you need to and if you’ll be provided with the technology you need to do your job well from home.
Finding remote work
You can search for remote jobs online on sites like indeed.com and remote.net. LinkedIn also advertises remote roles.
Having a side gig
In this day and age, many people are turning to the humble side gig to complement their regular earnings. Side gigs are great because they’re flexible (you can choose to take on as much work as you are comfortable with) and they provide extra cash for holidays, etc.
Taking on a side gig is also a good way of testing out and eventually segwaying into freelancing.
Finding side gig work
Websites like Upwork, Fiverr and Outsourcely are hotbeds for gig workers. Like freelancers, you can find gig jobs via word of mouth too.
Tips for working remotely
Working remotely requires a different mindset and set of skills. Yes, you’re less likely to be micromanaged but to succeed you need to be able to self-motivate. And although there’s more autonomy, the life of remote worker can sometimes be a lonely one.
The following tips will make the transition a bit easier.
- Establish a routine
Anyone who’s worked from home will tell you that the lack of structure can be prohibiting. Make life easier by establishing – and sticking to – a routine. Find out when your “peak productivity” times are and reserve these for more complex tasks if possible.
Get up at a reasonable time each day, aim to give yourself an hour for lunch and leave the house during this time to get some daylight. Similarly, try not to work into the evening – after all, one of the reasons for “going remote” is to achieve a better work-life balance!
- Set up a workspace
Whatever you do, try not to work in your bedroom. Instead, set up a workstation somewhere else in the house. Freelancers might decide to get a coworking membership which will enable them to socialize with others and get access to useful facilities – including, in some cases, yoga.
Some people find that even small things like wearing different clothes for work can promote better wellbeing because it helps them to establish a boundary between work and life (which can be hard if you’re working from home).
- Be social
As previously mentioned, remote working can get a bit lonely, so be sure to make time for socializing with friends and family. Even interacting with a shopkeeper or talking to someone on the phone can make a difference.
There are lots of online groups and communities out there for remote workers looking for some advice or just a chat with like-minded people.
- Minimize distractions
This seems pretty obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Minimize distractions to maximize productivity; keep the TV off, mute notifications and try not to engage in domestic activities – no matter how tempting it might be!
Likewise, find out what makes you focus better as a telecommuter. Maybe it’s classical music on a low volume, listening to a podcast or total silence – it’s different for everyone.
- Ask for help
Last but by no means least, ask for help when you need it. You might be working in isolation, but you’re still part of a wider team and its likely that you’ll have someone to report to. Your employer, or client if you’re freelance, will probably appreciate you more for it.
If working remotely has always appealed to you but you’ve never taken the plunge, there’s never been a better time to do it. There are so many opportunities out there for both freelancers and employees – you just have to know where to look.