The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work

Today, remote work can be done from your lounge chair next to a pool in Maui. Or a glass igloo in Lapland beneath the Northern Lights. That’s the dream, right?

But in reality, most remote work is often done from a spare office space in your house or a local coffee shop.

Working remotely is somewhat different from working remote. Working remotely is generally for individuals who have a job and are working away from home, hence remotely. Remote work is self-employed, self-sustaining job.

They’re similar in that both can be done from anywhere in the world, but for most jobs, working remotely will eventually require you to appear in an office. Yet, remote work is freeing in a way that most jobs aren’t. Having the flexibility to work whenever and wherever you desire is an experience that can improve your mental health and zest for life. 

If you're considering remote work (or working remotely) this is the guide for you, read on!

Shift from working in an office to working remote

Today, a significant part of the population works outside of a traditional office. A 2018 study believes that at least 70% of the American population is working remotely at least 1 day a week.

As technology has evolved, so has the ability to work whilst staying connected. Thirty years ago, working remote was limited to freelancers, today, it is a mainstream career path that allows people to work a job they enjoy wherever in the world they are.

As companies become more eco-conscientious, they become more accepting of working remote employees, even if it’s just a part-time working remote gig. Consider San Antonio, Texas as they recently asked companies to allow workers a 4 day work week to reduce emissions in their city and to cut down on ozone damage.

Whether you’re new to the remote work lifestyle, or you’re just interested in options outside the four walls of your office, this article is for you. 

Why Work Remotely Anyway?

An opportunity to travel

Of course, there are many reasons to work remote. For some, working remote offers an opportunity to travel. According to a recent study, around 4.8 Americans identify as “digital nomads” where they “choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world.”

This lifestyle is appealing, if you enjoy traveling, seeing new sights, and are still able to work independently, despite a variety of distractions that could take you away from your work, or at the very least makes it difficult. 

A  More flexible lifestyle

Working remote doesn’t mean you’re working in Saudia Arabia, whilst your home typically is based in Arkansas. You can work remote only three blocks down from your house. What working remote does offer is a flexible lifestyle, an opportunity to work when it is best for you.

Are you a night owl who suffers through the morning at the office? Working remote will allow you to work late into the wee morning hours, as long as your work is done. The flexible lifestyle is appealing to many, but it’s also easy to get caught up in your lifestyle and forget to work. 

Cut down on work-associated costs

A massive positive for working remote is the opportunity to save money whilst making money. Working in an office setting can be expensive from obligations to birthday parties, drinks with coworkers that run into the hundreds, to dining out or snacks from the vending machines.

If you have a difficult time saying “no”, chances are you’re spending a bit of that paycheck while you’re making it. And even if you’re not spending money on food, if you have a professional wardrobe, maintaining that can be expensive depending on tastes.

Working from home will allow you to wear whatever you like, and while most people find their productivity increases by getting fully dressed for the day, your daily wardrobe may be considerably cheaper than your work wardrobe, allowing you to save valuable money there. 

Of course, factoring in the cost of transport to work, insurance, and possibly parking fees all add up as well. If you crunch the numbers, you may realize that you’ll actually be saving money and still make money staying from home. 

Opportunity to best enjoy one’s work

Perhaps you don’t love your job. Or perhaps you find your coworkers increasingly annoying and disruptive.

Would getting away from them help you rekindle your love for your job? Perhaps it's coworkers and the group environment that really leave you struggling with your job. Would leaving your office job completely and finding something else working remote be exactly what you need to rediscover your zest for life and for your job?

Consider what you want to be and how you can best reach that without the confines of the office. Perhaps, working remote will give you exactly what you need to better rediscover what you love to do, while getting paid for it. 

Higher productivity with fewer distractions

If you focus best in a quiet environment, with few distractions, working from home could be a lifesaver for your productivity. By removing the coworkers, silencing your phone, and settling in to focus on your work, you may discover that your productivity increases, and along with it, your love of your work.

If you’re able to work uninterrupted, you may find that your overall workday doesn’t need to be 8 hours from start to finish, giving you a higher productivity rate, better quality work, and a shorter work day allowing you to do things that you truly enjoy. 

Not needing to pay for childcare

If you’re a new parent, childcare is a massive ordeal. Finding the right daycare is difficult enjoy, but on top of that, there is always a worry about your child and whether they’re happy or not. Working remote would allow you to keep your child with you, at least part-time, and the savings of not paying for childcare would be massive.

Childcare can also be a negative for remote workers though. If you have highly energetic children, chances are they may not be happy to sit quietly in the living room while you work four hours straight. Even babies need frequent cuddles; unless you’re flexible, this can be difficult to handle while you’re working.

How to Stay Motivated When Remote Working

Finding your motivation and sticking with it can be a difficult part of working remote. Since everyone is propelled and encouraged by a variety of things, there are no hard and fast rules that apply to every remote worker.

There are a myriad of tips out there, and here are a few common ones: 

Create a separate office or work space 

Working from home in your bed sounds cozy, but in reality, it could lead to a lot of issues. Your bedroom shouldn’t become an office; making it one could make it difficult to “turn off” your brain when it’s time to sleep. Instead, create an office or working space in your home.

Decorate it to your tastes to improve productivity, and then use it. Find an office chair that is comfortable (but not too comfortable!) and use that as motivation to sit somewhere and work. Adding in a plant, or five, to keep the air clean and anything else that might help you feel motivated.

If you find though, that space isn’t working out, maybe move it around, or try working somewhere else. Or, set up multiple mini offices around your house and move when you need inspiration. 

Use a coworking space

Coworking spaces are becoming more popular as more workers work remote or remotely. In 2017 there were 4,000 office spaces in the USA. By 2022, that number is set to pass 6,200.

Essentially a coworking space is a paid for, open office environment. If you work remote, but you work best in an office environment, a coworking space is probably best for you. 

Create and stick to a routine

Just like in an office, keeping a routine is best. Of course, if you’re your own boss, you can set the hours that work best for you, but sticking with those hours and a routine is optimal. If you walked into the office and made a cup of Earl Grey tea, continue that with the start of your daily work routine.

Keep mealtimes free from work and have a designated shut off time in the evenings so you don’t have work interfering with your bedtime. If you find it tempting to start working during your “off” hours, stop your distractions. That may mean you set your phone to “do not disturb” mode and you close your laptop.

Perhaps, even moving your “work” apps to a different page on your phone than your “play” apps might help. Often it’s easier to ignore reminders if they’re on a different page. If you work constantly, while you work remote, you’ll get burnt out very quickly. Set up limits and stick with them to keep your work and play life separate. 

Exercise and getting away from work

Just like in an office setting, exercise is important. Too much sitting can leave you prone to a host of side effects like dementia, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, varicose veins, stroke, heart attack, obesity, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Obviously, exercise daily is recommended, but if you sit for long periods and then exercise, the exercise is not as good for you unless you got up and moved around for parts of the day.

Working remote means you no longer have a nosy boss who is watching your every move and monitoring your bathroom breaks. So, break up your work day. Get up every hour and do a quick lap around your house or go up and down your stairs a couple of times. Create a standing desk at your kitchen counter.

Take a walk outside, even if it’s just to go to the mailbox. Hop on a treadmill to conduct your office calls, or at least answer calls standing up. Not only will moving keep you healthier and less stressed, it may even prolong your lifespan compared to office workers. See? Working from home is just healthier. 

What are the disadvantages of working remote?

We’ve talked about all the pros of working from home, but of course there are a myriad of cons. Some of the pros may even be a negative for you, depending on your personality. 

1. Distractions 

Working remote, particularly if you are working in your house, may provide you with many distractions. You just sat down to write an email to someone, and you suddenly remembered you didn’t turn on the dishwasher. You get up and take care of that and get back to your seat when the microwave beeps and reminds you that your coffee is ready.

As you wait for that to re-heat, you may think about all the other household chores that need to happen, and before you know it, your house may be clean, but your workday is still blank. The same goes if you work in a coffee shop where it is easy to be distracted by people walking by, friends, or an interesting article on social media.

Working remote gives you the opportunity to work in a place that is best for you, but sometimes, you may simply work best in an office setting. 

2. Isolation 

If you’re a people person that thrives on interactions with coworkers, working remote can be isolating.

Once again, working in a communal office may be best, just to allow you the opportunity to get out and interact with other people. 

3. Being responsible for your own time management

Part of the difficulty of working remote may be others reactions to your job. They hear working remote and assume that you have less to do now, so a three hour long lunch to catch up would be workable.

After all, you’re no longer on a schedule. Time management problems can plague even office workers, and unless you’re independent and are great at monitoring your time management, it can be a struggle.

If this is a struggle for you, don’t fear, you can overcome it. Create to do lists, and stick with them. Set a timer for yourself to complete tasks. Resist the urge to check social media or news sites, or anything that could distract you from the tasks at hand. Determine the time of day when you’re most productive and use that time to really work hard. 

4. Easy to feel like you are “always on” 

One of the most common problems that occur when you work from home is the mindset that you’re “always on”. From getting messages about your work or potential work all times of the day or night, to emails interrupting date nights, to phone calls when you’re doing the dishes, it’s easy to feel like you’re working 24/7.

To combat this, many people recommend turning your phone off, or at least putting it on do not disturb outside of your working hours. Removing Slack or any messaging you use for work off your phone may also be helpful, especially if you find getting those messages pulls you back into a work mindset. Editing your email settings, so you don’t get emails outside of business hours would also be helpful. And lastly, screen your calls. If it’s a work call and you’re not working, don’t answer it. 

5.  No stationary cupboard to steal from 

Now that you’re based from home, all the costs come out of your pocket. Your pens, your computer, the printer, ink and toner all are costs you are now responsible for. In some cases, the only thing you’ll use for working will be your computer.

But, there are always instances where you’ll have to print off papers, and pens and paper can add up. Depending on your job, you will also probably need to hire an accountant to handle your taxes. It’s not a non-negotiable, but it’s also something to keep in mind. 

The Jobs that Work Best for Working Remotely 

Freelancer 

If you’re a freelancer, you’re self-employed and you choose the jobs, instead of your employer choosing you. Most freelancing jobs are in creative industries such as graphic design, illustrating, photography, computer programming, and web design.

Writing, be it copywriting, blogging, technical writing, or editing is an excellent job to have, either full or part-time. Many bloggers make well over six figures, and with sites like Amazon, you can easily self-publish a book and have it read by actual people.

Writing freelancing will require skills, a strong knowledge of grammar and spelling, and a reasonably strict schedule to maintain if you want to have articles submitted by the deadline. If you’re a skilled writer though, writing is an excellent way to make money.

If you have a technical background, working as a designer or developer may be just the course for you. If you’re a developer, you could be hired for anything from app developing to website design. There’s a broad range of job categories under the developer heading, but if you have the background necessary, there are an equally large number of jobs out there for the taking.

If you’re a designer, you may be able to find a job by sourcing yourself out there. While the design market is less accessible due to the variety of resources already out there, there is always going to be a need for people who have skills in design work.

Even jobs like assistants can be done virtually. There is a strong need for virtual assistants who work remotely by answering calls, scheduling meetings and appointments, all without even entering the office. And certain accounting jobs in niche markets, like small business accounting or international taxes can be done remotely.

Accountants do need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and certification though, but if you fit the qualifications, you may be able to work remotely doing what you enjoy. 

Entrepreneur

Having your own business allows you to set the hours you work. Of course, you can’t just wake up and decide to become and entrepreneur overnight - most often it is the result of years of hard work and effort.

Yet, this job gives you the benefit of working wherever you want to, within reason, and whenever you want to with the added benefit of receiving a consistent paycheck. 

Remote employee

Working remote doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to be self-employed. You can work remotely whilst working for your employer. Sometimes, you can stay employed at your current job and work remotely from there. Other times, finding a remote job will take a career or at least a job change.

Today, there are many companies that will hire teachers to teach students, most often a foreign language. If you have strong language skills, teaching experience, or speak a foreign language, you may find that you can be hired by a company to teach.

While the reliable paycheck is a plus, you will have to keep strict and consistent hours and teaching via Skype may not allow you as much freedom as other working remote jobs.

Working in customer support is another example of a remote employee job. Many companies are now outsourcing their customer support because these jobs generally do not require support within the team.

If you have excellent English skills, can use Excel, and have reliable internet and a phone, you should be set to go for most customer support jobs. As more and more companies need customer support, there is a wide variety of jobs and many pay well (around $30,000 annually according to Glassdoor). 

How to find work remote jobs

Of course, jobs catered to working remotely can be difficult to find. As more and more people want to work remotely for a variety of reasons, there will always be competition for jobs. Yet, if you’re qualified and persistent, something will open up for you.

Upwork is a great online resource to finding remote jobs. You upload your information and apply individually to each job that suits you. There are a wide array of jobs on here, with a wide array of work times from short-term to long-term. While it can be difficult to get accepted on Upwork and the competition is high, it’s a spectacular resource and site.

People Per Hour is great if you’re a worker or if you’re an employer trying to find freelancers. With over 900,000 businesses on here looking for employees, this is a great site to find your next job. Also, it’s been recognized by the likes of Forbes, BBC, and Business Insider as a unique way to source talent.

We Work Remotely is just that. A site dedicated to people who work remotely and need jobs. Over 2.5 million people use this site, making it a behemoth in the world of job sites. Further resources are available as needed, and many other sites recommended WWR like Google, Amazon, and Basecamp.

Jobs Abroad is less working remotely and more jobs overseas. Yet, it still makes the list as a great resource if you’re looking to break up the monotony and get out and see the world, while keeping a reliable paycheck!

Toptal hires exclusive freelancers, and is full of first-class talent. If you’re highly talented in a specialized field and wanting to work remote, this is the site for you.

Indeed is more well-known for local jobs, but occasionally you can get lucky and find a job working remote. It will require more research and effort, but remote jobs are on there. 

Remote work, wrapping up..

Working remote is not for everyone, but for those that it appeals to, it is a wonderful way to support yourself.

Whether you see yourself working far away or in your own home office, working remote offers you job flexibility with a paycheck.