The world really has gone mobile.
We can shop from our sofas. We can shop while riding the train. We can have businesses meetings with people on the ground whilst zipping through the air (expensive wifi permitting).
In the “knowledge” economy, your “workplace” has become less an actual place than a state of mind. Or, more specifically, it has become your laptop and your smartphone.
Job interviews can be held while the grocery shopping gets done. Even for jobs which require a physical presence, certain tasks can be carried out remotely.
At home, well, we don’t even have to be at home to switch on the lights or turn on the heating. Your house can be toasty warm before you even get there.
So, let’s all agree we’re pretty mobile. Naturally, this means remote working is incredibly common – nay, expected – for anyone whose job is done entirely on a laptop.
Or so you think. For some reason, even today…
…finding a remote job is a royal pain in the ass
Well, I’ll go further and say finding any job is a pain in the ass. Still, finding a purely telecommute position (or even a job with the option of it) remains something elusive for a lot of people. Despite our remote and mobile world, too many companies still maintain an outdated, unreasonable resistance to telecommuting.
Which is why I wrote this post.
After I vowed never, ever to work full-time in an office again, I knew I needed a game plan for any new job I applied for.
Okay, so this post isn’t really a full-on strategy, but it does elaborate on a few (vital!) points which have actually landed me a remote position.
Remote work and breaking the default
Part of the resistance to telecommuting is what I like to call the “default”. This default is for “white-collar”, “knowledge-based” jobs which are primarily (or entirely) carried out on computers. That even includes traditionally “non-tech” jobs (accounting, HR, admin).
Despite this, it has taken too long for employers to start offering “work at home days”, let alone completely remote positions within these industries.
Essentially, working in-office is the default for most jobs. It’s standard, how things have always been done, etc. Both employers and most employees alike generally don’t question it. Why would they? Most employees aren’t aware that yes, you certainly can negotiate a remote work arrangement. Either with your current employer or with your future employer.
The trick is to sum up the courage to take a step beyond the yellow line and break that default!
Job Interviews and mentioning your “mobility”
When looking for my current job, I applied for many positions through remote job boards. However, the majority of my interviews came from applications I’d sent out on normal job sites like Indeed.com. Even then, I was careful to read each ad and research each company, trying to determine from afar just how open to remote work they might actually be.
When it came to the interviews, I stated that remote work was the “work environment I’m used to”. Some found it intriguing, others said they preferred me in the office. The latter were often very short interviews.
However, the point is – quite a few companies were open to the idea.
With many jobs, remote working can be a solution
As stated before, many jobs today are conducive to remote working. However, it may not always be on the forefront of an employer’s mind. Yet, here’s the thing: quite a few employers are willing to implement a remote work arrangement as a solution to the problem of distance/travel. Especially if they find it difficult to get someone with the right skillset and/or experience.
Companies, after all, don’t want to hear problems – they’ve got enough of them. They want to hear solutions. This company is in Braunschweig, a relatively out-of-the-way city. Cologne, on the other hand, is the media capital of Germany. Düsseldorf is also nearby. There are a lot of companies I could potentially work for. So, the wonderful vapers sitting in Braunschweig might be taking their time evaluating candidates and trying to make the location as attractive as possible.
All I could do was offer the solution of being available via Skype, email and phone. In addition, I stated that I had no problems travelling for meetings. I offered them a solution immediately. How effectively I did that, we’ll see. As with much of what I’m currently doing, I’m testing waters. If they like it… Well, something substantial might result. If not, I’ll learn from the mistake and move on!
Right then, when’s the right time to ask?
Questions about your future “work environment” come under the same headers as perks, salary, severance package, working hours etc. In reality, you shouldn’t feel that asking for a remote or partially-remote position is pushing it. It’s all part-and-parcel of the negotiations you make before you sign their little piece of paper.
In my opinion, the best time to ask is during the first interview. I would usually wait until the interviewer starts to talk about the benefits of working there. Don’t go in whole-hog and ask about remote working off the bat. Soften it a little.
For example, if their office is located quite a while away, you could ask if it’s possible to work from home some of the days. You can make the argument that two hours a day is a lot to travel.
Applying to a company that’s a good few hours from your home is also an option. If they offer a relocation package, you could ask if a telecommute arrangement might be more favorable. After all, they will end up saving a LOT of money. Not just on office overheads, but relocation expanses.
If you’ve got experience working remotely, you can also do what I do. Mention that you’re used to working from home and that you’d prefer not to give it up.
The “how” is up to you – but based on experience, I would strongly advise asking in the first interview/phone call. Those are usually the “make or break” situations where both an employer and a candidate suss one another out. Remember, they’re not just interviewing you – you’re also interviewing them!