Having worked in many different types of employment, I know as well as anyone the grinding slog of 9-5 working week. However, remote work is offering workers the chance to break free somewhat from the shackles of their daily commute and their overbearing bosses.
Remote work is essentially the ability to do your job in a different location.
Think of it like this. The telephone used to be a static, immovable object, plugged into the wall and dictating to unsuspecting owners when and where it should be interacted with.
The advent of the mobile phone completely blew this idea out of the water and allowed people to communicate whenever and wherever they wanted to. Not to mention filtering out all the nonsense and unknown numbers.
Remote work has had the same effect, only on the workplace.
Once upon a time the office was the only game in town. You got a job, and you commuted to your workplace. No ifs, no buts, you had to be at your desk for 9am sharp on a Monday morning, ready to attack the day. And grapple with the fax machine.
Whilst that may still sound like an unfortunate, (or fortunate!) reality for most workers, the opportunity to work on the go, from a more convenient location has never been greater.
And bother employers and employees alike are embracing the change.
Can I do Remote Work?
Well, first of all that depends on your line of work, or your employer. Clearly if you’re a fireman, it’s not going to happen. Although having said that, I bet there are still some desk based roles in the fire service where admin can be completed from home.
If you’re an office worker though, you’re in an ideal position.
Some employers, particularly in the larger companies, actively promote the ideal of flexible working patterns to their employees.
They might advertise the idea of working ‘once or twice’ a week from home, to reduce the strain on employee health and even ease the burden on themselves in the working environment. After all, every employee uses electricity, tea, coffee, paper, ink, wear and tear of IT equipment, bathroom supplies, risk of accidents….. In many ways it’s in the employers interests to keep employees away from the workplace if at all possible.
Indeed, this is why many employers now have some or all of their workforce working entirely on a remote work basis. But again, it depends on your employer as to whether or not it’s feasible.
If this isn’t something that they’re actively promoting, why not talk to your manager or whoever is running the show, and pitch them the idea? It might be something they’d never even considered before, but you might even get brownie points for coming up with a clever new idea to bring the company into the digital age…
If you’re not already in employment there are loads of remote work opportunities out there. Like, loads. There has never been a better time to seek a job that allows you to work from home or from a mobile location.
There are sites like flexjobs dedicated solely to advertising remote working opportunities. And many other who will offer the chance to do either all or part of a job from whatever location is suitable.
At the end of the day, the main focus of any employer is that work is completed well, and in a timely fashion. If you have all the skills and equipment to complete this from your home office, why would they care?
Okay, they might insist on inviting you in once a week to network with colleagues so you’re not totally alien to each other, but other than that why not? As we mentioned before, there are potential savings to be made for companies.
Besides, there are loads of ways colleagues can communicate anyway without literally sitting next to each other.
Apps such as Skype and Whatsapp allow you to not only talk with colleagues but see each other as well. Also, there are web conferencing facilities that allow colleagues to interact with each other onscreen and share slides and powerpoints etc.
Really, the only thing that’s missing is the occasional offer of a cup of tea or perhaps the enjoyment of the banter side of human interaction. I would suggest it’s a fair trade off if you can save £200 per month and lots of commute time by not having to sit in traffic.
What about us freelancers?
Negotiating remote work with your employer is one thing. Not necessarily easy. However, if you’re self employed, the beauty is you’re your own boss!
If you know you can work successfully under your own steam, from your own chosen location there’s clearly nothing stopping you. One of the things we’ve mentioned, however, is the lack of interaction you get from working in an environment alongside fellow employees.
If you’re a designer who thrives on networking with others, sharing ideas and concepts and pitching new proposals etc then perhaps co-working is something you could consider.
By working in a co-working space you would get many of the benefits of the human interaction, whilst still working under your own steam. You would still be able to carry out tasks and gigs for prospective buyers all over the globe in a remote work capacity, but not totally isolated at home.
For many freelancers though, working entirely for oneself really is the holy grail. I must admit, that’s how I operate, and that was really my sole motivation.
I’ve done writing or fulfilled gigs for people all over the place. From home. From the pub. From cafes. Once from a park in the middle of London.
Anyone familiar with London will know that one of the main obsessions is the weather. Any slight hint a ray of sunlight peeping through the clouds immediately leads to a throng of workers appearing, as if by magic, on every corner of parkland in the city. Every blade of grass, every park bench. Every public space. All full of workers cramming in some sun worshipping into their lunch hour.
I’ve added to the hordes of people on a number of occasions, taking up space on a public bench or outdoor coffee table, getting stuck into a juicy piece of writing. And it has to be said, there’s no more rewarding feeling than knowing you’re carrying out paid work with the sun on your back and at your own pace.
There are a couple of downsides of course. Wifi can be unreliable. Batteries on laptops and phones can quickly die. The general public can annoy and distract you in innumerable ways. All these pitfalls don’t exist in a fixed workplace environment where everything is set up for you to succeed.
But overall, there aren’t any hurdles you can’t overcome.
It’s dead easy to activate a Wifi hotspot on your phone to overcome any dodgy in-store Wifi. Spare batteries can be bought and fully charged as backup. And as for the public – that’s nothing a good pair of headphones can’t block out. Or you could even go one better and pitch up in your public library, where silence is golden. Yes, we still have libraries and they appreciate the company!
When can I start!?
Really, that’s up to you. But there’s certainly never been a better time to look into remote work.
I came across an employer in the UK recently called Sensee who employ workers exclusively on a remote working basis. The nature of their work is customer service orientated, so requires working from home, on the phone. It just goes to show though that the industry is so strong that companies now exist solely to recruit remote workers. So if you’ve got a quality home office based set up already, with phoneline, reliable internet and quality IT equipment there’s nothing stopping you taking up one of their positions.
If however yours is the dream of hanging out in a coffee shop all day, doodling away on some design work or creating lavish, creative writing essays or ebooks about your adventures in Europe during the fall of the Soviet Union – then you sound like a freelancer.
As I always say though, far too often people focus on the goal. They want to live the dream of freeing themselves from the office environment, but without an understanding of what they’re good at, or what they’d like to do. And that’s not going to get you anywhere.
For me it was quite simple. I love writing. I could write all day about the financial and employment sectors then go home, have tea, and start writing again about the holes in the plot of the Last Jedi. Because that’s my thing. It doesn’t make me a millionaire, admittedly, but I’m able to pursue my passion and turn it into an income. And all the while working remotely from whichever location takes my fancy. Or indeed is determined by my other commitments.
So narrow in on your focus, what field you’d like to work in, or are already working in, and there’s a good chance there’s capacity for remote work in that area. And then you’ve got a good basis to get started.
And just finally you must admit. The Last Jedi was rubbish wasn’t it?