With remote jobs, flexible work options are a given, right?
The main difference between a telecommute position and one based in a office is really quite simple. Work at home jobs are just that – jobs where you work in your own home. All other aspects of the job are the same: you may still have to go to meetings, be available at certain times or even bend to someone else’s schedule.
’Remote’ does not always equal ‘flexible’.
It’s food for thought when you’re looking for new challenges. Admittedly, working remotely often does mean that you’re on a flexible schedule. Especially if your colleagues are scattered throughout different time zones. Often, you’ll have to adhere to only a vague or loose routine in order to facilitate efficient communication.
That’s why it’s important to look at the fine print before you decide to continue with that application.
Remote Jobs: Flexible or not? What I noticed when searching
Whether remote jobs are flexible or not depends on several factors. These are often the same factors that determine whether any other office-based position offer flexibility:
The nature of the job: If your job is tending to the needs of customers, you may be required to work in shifts. Call-centers spring to mind.
What your colleagues need: Your work could theoretically be deadline-based, but if your colleagues want you on call at certain hours, you may be required to work specific times.
Meetings: If you’re needed in a bunch of important meetings throughout the day, it could leave you with very little wiggle-room.
If the company is more traditional/corporate then it’s likely you’ll only receive a certain level of flexibility.
Not everyone who wants a work from home position necessarily needs to be on a flexible schedule. For many people, scheduled breaks and lunch hours are usually enough.
Types of jobs which may not be flexible
The Western world at least is moving towards a more flexible work mindset – which is a good thing! However as stated before, the nature of your job may only allow for a certain amount of flexibility. The following remote jobs may not offer as flexible a schedule as you might think.
You may need to be in regular meetings or on-call throughout the day to answer certain questions. This is especially true if you have a lot of different meetings throughout the day. If anything, remote HR jobs aren’t very different from the in-office variety: you just have the luxury of sitting at your kitchen table.
It probably doesn’t matter if you’re mostly answering emails. But if you’re on the phone to customers or chatting with them online, you’ll probably have to work in shifts.
A lot of VAs actually work in accordance with a rather strict schedule. That’s because people need to know when their VA is available in order to speak with them, give them tasks etc.
While these are three of the most common types of job with limited flexibility, there are many more. At the end of the day, a job isn’t just about your skills or the specific tasks you’re needed for. You’re there to help a company get things done and grow: sometimes, that means less flexibility.
Maybe you can imagine how excited I got when I learned that location independence was actually a thing.
I mean, I got really excited. Having grown up in several countries, I never liked the idea of being tied to just one.
It does sound like a flight of fancy. Though practically speaking, it’s possible (especially for full-time digital nomads). Yet how many people actually achieve it? For the most part, it seems to be the domain of successful business people and/or the independently wealthy. Certainly, the rise of remote working as a more accepted style of employment has also helped. But for the individual who simply wants to choose where they live -regardless of employment- it can seem that bit more daunting.
Here’s the thing, though: Being location independent doesn’t mean you want or have to flight from one country to the next. Since you’re independent, you can choose to stay in the same damn place for the rest of your life.
That’s the whole point…
…your choice of location is up to you.
The Real Definition of Location Independence – and how to achieve it
Location independence can be considered a lifestyle. It means you’re not dependant on being a specific geographical location – for any reason. Of course, there are many implications that come along with this. Many take it to mean that they can work from anywhere, but it goes further than that: you don’t have family obligations, you don’t have property that you must oversee, there isn’t a wild tiger that you have to defend your bear cubs from, etc.
When talking about digital nomadism though…
The only factor limiting most aspiring nomads is the job they work to earn money, survive and live.
The truth is that even today, most companies don’t offer full-time remote work straight off the bat.
But for most people, the path to location independence requires work and planning. Just like anything in life. There are lots of industries that provide the possibility – in theory. But it’s not as simple as getting a new job.
Often, it helps to have a bigger plan:
Look at your current situation. Ask yourself just what it is about it that you don’t like. Do you hate going to the exact same building every day, at the exact same time? Does your daily commute knock ten hours out of your week? Look at these problems closely and see how they can be solved.
When thinking of career, consider whether freelancing is a viable option. The truth is, not everyone is built to be a freelancer. Or to set up their own business.
Would you be happier maybe with a mix of both? Perhaps commuting to the office one or two days a week isn’t so bad. You can do most of your work from wherever you want, but you still get a bit of facetime with your boss.
Or perhaps you really just want to get out there and see the world, and holidays are NOT enough. For digital nomads, this makes total sense!
For digital nomads, work and career are still highly important
As a digital nomad, you’ll miss out on a lot of career opportunities by refusing to be tied to one place. This is a sacrifice you’ll have to seriously consider. For those who find it difficult to get a full-time remote job, there are alternatives. Freelancing is one of them, but also consider contractual work.
If you’re in an industry that doesn’t lend itself to location independence, it may be time to switch careers. See what transferrable skills you already have – and apply them to something new. But with that we’ll give one small hint: don’t just go for a job because it’s remote. You must at least be competent at it and enjoy your work.
I decided to do a review of Europe Remotely for one simple reason: I live in Europe.
Germany, to be more specific.
During my job search, I found plenty of telecommute positions located in far-flung places. The United States, Canada, Australia… Even New Zealand (not that there’s anything wrong with that…).
I have no problem working for a company in a different time zone. I’m quite happy to compromise occasionally and work a few odd hours during the week. However, certain remote companies do seem to have an issue with me being in Europe.
How do I know?
’Remote – US & Canada Only’ frequently appears on job advertisements.
Not all of them, mind you – but this notice appears enough for it to get tedious. So I dedicated part of my job search to finding jobs specifically located in a European time zone.
When it came to platforms focusing on Europe… It was slim pickings. Then, I found EuropeRemotely.com.
Is Europe Remotely any good then?
I guess it depends on your definition of “good”. As a job board, it’s laid out in a pretty standard manner. This is the first thing you see when you log on:
I mean, it’s pretty much what you want. A list of remote jobs based in Europe… No fancy frills, nothing. As a job seeker, I didn’t really give a hoot. I scanned the list and looked for positions in my field (namely, marketing/copywriting).
And damn… There are a lot of tech and software jobs.
Which is good news for software developers, web developers and IT people. Seriously. If this is your industry, and you either live in Europe or don’t mind working for a European company then keep this platform in your bookmarks.
Scrolling down a little further though, Europe Remotely showed me this:
Ah, so they do divide it into categories. That’s handy.
After that… There’s not much else. Well, a blog with three posts. Thankfully, the jobs are regularly updated. Even for techies though, they are rather minimal. This platform’s definitely worth a look now and then but don’t rely on it!
When I started freelancing and working remotely, I was willing to take anything. That included doing menial, mind-numbing tasks. If it made me money. Writing content made sense: even though I initially made relatively little, it still added up to a pretty alright hourly wage.
Then, I stumbled across a range of different data entry jobs that could be done from home. I was intrigued, so I investigated further.
But wait… What is data entry?
Data entry is simply a task. Data entry, in essence, is simply a task. It’s a part of the general work day for a number of professions: copywriters, programmers, virtual assistants and many more. In the olden days, it was a typical “basic” office job. Of course, nowadays it is entirely possible to do this job remotely. After all, only a computer is necessary (and you have to communicate with your superiors… but you don’t need to be physically present to do that!).
…typing various forms of data into electronic formats. This can be Excel sheets, Word documents, etc.
As a fresh-faced freelancer, I thought this would be an excellent way to earn some money. Possible even develop new skills or introduce me to new concepts. There were both full-time and part-time remote positions advertised: naturally, these seemed perfect to me.
After some investigation, I saw what data entry jobs from home really look like
I’m not saying all data entry jobs from home aren’t worthwhile. What I am saying though is: don’t get your hopes up. In this type of remote job, your role is to follow instructions down to a mark. Often all you need is a basic laptop with a good Internet connection. The specifics of what you do is down to the client/company you’re working for.
Tasks could simply include organizing or transferring data. Typically, there are really only two types of legit data entry jobs people do from home. They can be…
Small, micro-tasks (such as with platforms like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk) which don’t pay very much. Maybe a couple of dollars here and there.
Then the “full-time” variety… Which is often part of a much larger job description, which you will also need other skills for. Virtual assistants, for example.
If you avoid the scams and are looking for something genuine, you need to expand your skillset or look for more specialized jobs. No matter what the Internet promises you, most of these jobs are basic, grunt labor. You’re never going to make thousands of dollars by simply pressing a few buttons. Not legally, anyway.
So what should I really be looking for?
You shouldn’t be specifically for data entry. Remote job positions that often require ‘menial’ tasks are very common… These days, they’re known as VA roles. However, these roles also require a much broader range of skills! The more skills you have, the better pay you’ll command and the better the quality of remote job you’ll find.
Virtual assistants are essentially there to assist others in any time-consuming tasks that need to get done. The creative department needs a few images/videos quickly edited, SEOs need a few articles uploaded quickly, the CEO needs his next trip to be booked… That’s what the VA is for.
VA positions also pay better than a lot of data entry jobs… And they can be done from home!
The greatest advantage is that they allow you to get started building and expanding your skillset. When beginning anything new though, you need a starting point. For those who want a telecommute job, it can seem intimidating. It may seem that these jobs require years of experience, high qualifications and impressive portfolios.
And of course, they do… if they offer a high wage. But many companies are also willing to hire absolute beginners and train them.
So, what I’ve done is compiled a small list of the four most common remote jobs that can be done at entry level. These are essentially “foot in the door” options. At the very least, they can still be a wonderful way of gaining experience. You’ll very quickly learn about what you really want… and what you don’t want.
Content Writing & Copywriting
Content writing and copywriting are definitely skilled positions – but entry level jobs in this field are the best way to practice those skills. While earning a bit of money (even if its not a lot). Many businesses offer these as entry level positions in the hope that they can train someone to become a persuasive wordsmith. Copywriting was in fact the first remote job I ever had – working as a freelancer and simply selling my words. And believe me, I wasn’t paid fantastically well. Not at first, anyway.
For those who have a passion for writing, this could probably be one of best entry-level jobs to get a foot in the door and kickstart a career.
Content moderation requires a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of speed. You are essentially “cleaning up” the content of a brand’s page. For example, if a company has a Facebook page promoting something, you probably don’t want to have too many rude, negative and sexist comments on it. That’s where content moderation comes in: essentially, you ensure that content (often user-generated) adheres to specific guidelines. Offensive or irrelevant comments are deleted.
While this job often doesn’t require previous experience, you do need to have a good eye for detail. Another challenge is working fast and ensuring that a page or a channel is spanking clean – and lives up to community guidelines.
Much like content writers, VAs can command a high wage and many companies wanted experienced people. But again, there are plenty of smaller companies and start-ups that are willing to hire someone with little to no experience. Virtual assistance can involve anything from simple content management (posting stuff on a website, updating Facebook/Twitter posts) to doing general admin: organizing cloud files, booking hotels or answering emails.
Customer service jobs exist online too. Many “call center” jobs can and are done from the employee’s home: depending on the company. But customer contact also takes place through the medium of writing. Which can mean answering customers’ emails and queries, or replying to them through social media channels.
Remote.co stands out for me because it’s more than just a remote job board. They actually style themselves as a resource for digital nomads and remote workers.
It’s not just for employees, either. Their blog contains a lot of information about managing remote teams.
After applying through jobs on this platform, I found it useful to skim through a few of their articles. Which was a nice break, especially since applying for jobs can really take it out of you.
So, how is Remote.co useful to work at home job seekers?
Beyond providing general advice, there’s a section on Remote.co dedicated to remote workers. In fact, there’s a list of remote workers who’ve shared their insights on various questions people ask. Which I think is really important: sometimes, you can get really bogged down in your search and forget about other perspectives.
Some of the insights include…
All about going remote (the how, why, different motivations people had, etc.)
What it’s actually like to work remotely (Do they keep a regular schedule? What are the pain points and how do you address them?). These insights are especially useful for those starting out in their remote careers.
The best way to find a remote job, what industries these remote workers’ companies are in, etc.
Remote life: how their job has impacted their lives outside work, how work/life balance in general compares to being in an office.
As stated before, Remote.co puts an emphasize on providing advice for employers who have remote teams/individuals working for them. It’s not only focused on those looking for a telecommute position. So even beyond a job board, it’s a pretty holistic resource.
What remote jobs are on offer?
I was quite impressed with the selection of jobs and industries available here. As well as how regularly it was updated. As usual, the most frequent remote positions were those in the area of tech, IT and software.
There was a substantial number of ads in the following industries as well:
Customer service (which is a pretty big telecommute industry anyway…)
Design (in some cases, can also be considered “tech”)
Marketing (mostly digital marketing, though)
Recruitment & HR
Online Teaching (not as many…)
…and a “miscellaneous” section.
Evidently, Remote.co’s job categories are very, very detailed. Which is good – although if you have a number of different transferrable skills, you may want to search in several categories. Restricting yourself to one will seriously limit the job suggestions.
I’m keeping Remote.co on my list of top remote job sites. They were invaluable to me during my search – and I managed to get into two interview processes through this platform. Although I haven’t joined it yet, they even have a community you can join. Definitely useful!
In bygone days, the most common remote jobs were in tech and IT.
By and large, that often meant you had to be a developer in order to work remotely.
The reason? I’m willing to bet it’s because programming is damn hard to do. Many business owners lack the expertise. Unable to find suitable talent to fill certain positions, they had literally no choice but to hire experts from a distance. And good for those experts, too: they had a powerful skill that they could leverage.
As a result, remote working culture has become an incredibly powerful force within the tech and IT community. You can see this in the open source community: the majority of projects are carried out and executed remotely. Contributors come from all over the world. The likes of GitHub and various project management philosophies (such as Kanban) contribute to creating smoother, more efficient workflows.
For many of us who prefer to work remotely (i.e., not put up with petty office politics and other pointless bullshit) – things are a little harder. For the most part, jobseekers will stumble across plenty of job boards which unfortunately simply direct to the same few non-tech remote job postings. That is, unless you’re looking for a job specifically in tech.
If you’ve got experience in this field and love it – then great! Use that to your advantage. Having a set of highly in-demand skills will help you land a job you can do from anywhere. So, that’s one type of person sorted.
However, many of us still ask…
…is it possible to have a non-tech job that is also a remote role?
The simple answer is: of course.
However, there’s a big BUT:
Regardless of what job you’re going for, you still need relatively good computer literacy. Hell, every single office-based job requires it. Thankfully though, you don’t have to be a tech wizard.
That’s why I decided to whip up a list of some of the most common non-tech remote jobs out there. I’ve included a broad list of expected tasks and even salaries. Bear in mind, though: salaries are present in US dollars, because that appears to be the most common currency roles provide their information in.
PLEASE NOTE:Although finding a remote job these days is still a challenge (less so if you’re in the United States), it is getting easier. Statistics show that remote work is on the rise.
Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Administrative
You’ll be surprised to learn that a lot of administrative roles these days don’t necessarily require a “hands on” approach (at least in the physical sense). Administration is keeping things organized. These days, it often means keeping files in order and making sure that an organization ticks along smoothly.
Which is why the following jobs can easily be worked from anywhere…
“Project manager” is quite literally someone who manages projects. It’s pretty self-descriptive. However, many tend to sit in offices by themselves and communicate with others at a distance. You may be required to go to meetings or at least attend one via Skype. However, it is quite possible to land a project management role without having to spend too much time in the office.
Pay:Most project managers’ salaries are calculated on a yearly basis. You can expect USD$60,000/year.
Schedule Setup: It depends on the project, but for the most part you can expect 9-to-5. However, it also depends on the company you’re working for.
I don’t know much about accounting as a career. But I do know that the majority of roles can be performed pretty much anywhere. Traditionally, many companies want their accountants onsite. However, they often tend to sit in a room by themselves. Sometimes they travel to meet clients. In theory, it can be pretty easy to find an accounting job. You could even be self-employed with several clients, and only occasionally travelling for face-to-face meetings.
Pay: On average, accountants tend to earn around USD$45,000. As with project managers, it depends on the company and the country you or the company is based in.
Schedule Setup:As an accountant who mostly works alone, it is entirely possible to have a very flexible schedule. Many tend to follow a 9-to-5 routine.
Managerial roles vary, but plenty of office-based roles can and are worked remotely. Since many companies have distributed, worldwide teams – higher-ups can often demand flexible schedules and location independence. Travel for meetings and events may be necessary.
Regarding pay and schedule setup – it depends heavily on the specific company and the role.
Many offices have closed, many have downsized. But in spite of this, administrative assistants are still necessary. The only difference is that files are now stored on a cloud.
Virtual assistants provide administrative services and support. They may also have other duties. Typically though, a VA will…
Maintain calendars, set up meetings.
Carry out (virtual) administrative tasks.
Make travel arrangements.
Handle accounting and billing.
Deal with customers/clients.
Pay: Virtual assistants can earn around USD$15.00 per hour. USD$2,400 a month. Or, USD$28,800 a year.
Schedule Setup: This is highly dependent on your boss.
You may be given completely flexible hours, and simply have to perform administrative tasks by a set deadline. Or you may have to follow a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Some employers require their assistants to be available to talk for at least a few hours a day. Therefore, this job can depend on time zone.
Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Creative
“Creative” is a very broad description but it does help describe the following roles. Remote and flexible setups often suit the more “creative” roles. Coming up with new ideas doesn’t always happen in the strict time slot between 9 and 5. While it works for some people, this isn’t always the case for others. Many of these roles are also outsourced, so finding freelance positions is a lot easier.
This job title is pretty self-explanatory. You’re given raw, recorded material and it’s your job to edit it into something suitable according to specific guidelines. It can be anything – camera footage, sound effects, graphics, special effects. While there is a higher demand for video editing professionals in the world of online media, this job goes far beyond that.
Pay: Video editors can earn US$44,357 on average per year.
Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Like a lot of creative jobs, video editing can be done freelance affording you more flexibility.
This is arguably also a tech job (I mean for God’s sake, you are designing websites so why wouldn’t it be?) but it’s also a highly creative position. In addition, there’s little to no coding involved (having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help, but for the most part you’ll have a developer for that!). UX Design is an up-and-coming field with demand rising across the world. Simply put, it involves designing websites, software and other pieces of technology in accordance with the needs of users. You’re designing machines for humans.
Pay:UX designers can earn US$83,000 on average per year.
Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Many professionals in the field will also freelance.