If you’ve recently found yourself in a situation where you are no longer working in an office and need to better understand how to work from home, this article will give a full and comprehensive breakdown of everything you need to know about working remotely.
Jump to a section you’d like to read about:
- What is working remotely?
- What companies offer work from home?
- What kind of work can I do from home?
- Who is remote work a good fit for?
- What are the pros & cons of working remotely?
- What are the pros & cons of working remotely for employers?
- How do I get a remote job?
- Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Common myths about remote work
- How to manage a remote team from home
- Best tips for working remotely
- Resources for working from home efficiently
Working remotely means you are working from anywhere that is not the office of the business you work for. This may mean you are working from home or another location like a coffee shop or a hotel.
With the Coronavirus pandemic forcing many businesses to adapt to the work from home lifestyle, millions of people have found themselves in unfamiliar territory, trying to navigate the remote work landscape.
Working from home can be challenging but we hope to help you understand and better tackle this new lifestyle.
Or, if you are reading this post-pandemic and hoping to secure a work from home position, you can use this guide as a tool to decide whether or not this method of work is right for you.
Amidst the Coronavirus, many companies that are not typically remote work companies have been forced to pivot to a completely remote workplace in order to stay afloat.
However, in 2021 and beyond, remote work will continue to become more common. Going to work in an office is becoming a thing of the past due to remote work flexibility and benefits.
There are also dozens of job sites focused solely on remote jobs. We recommend visiting these job boards to get an idea of the companies offering work from home. See the section below, “How do I get a remote job?”
Here are some companies you may have heard of that offer work from home positions:
The type of work you can do from home or in another remote location is incredibly vast. You can work for a larger corporation, a startup, or even work for yourself running your own business.
Tech startups have often been viewed as a leader in this space. Many startups have taken this pathway to lower initial costs, maintain lower overhead costs, and provide excellent benefits to employees. Companies on this list include ConvertKit, Brainjolt, Modern Tribe, and MeetEdgar.
These startups aren’t the only players in the space, however. Large corporate entities have also joined along, now offering many opportunities to work from home. Companies such as; Dell, Intuit, UnitedHealth Group, Amazon, and Xerox allow for remote work in certain positions.
The most common work from home jobs all require your own computing device and are typically not “hands-on” positions. You’ll find yourself sitting in front of your computer at a desk 90+% of the time you are working unless travel is required.
Here are some typical work from home job roles:
- Tutor or Instructor
- Account Manager
- Sales Representative
- Web Developer
- Software Developer
- Virtual Assistant
- Marketing Assistant
- Graphic Designer
Not all work from home jobs are traditional positions. One example that is gaining popularity but is commonly misunderstood is a vlogger, or social media influencer. There are more avenues than ever for making a living off of social media, and you don’t necessarily have to go viral to be successful. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, and its fairly accessible monetization option can allow you to build a sustainable income.
Watch out for multi-level marketing (MLM) and pyramid schemes. Learn more about these types of compensation systems here. Joining these types of companies can be a massive risk and easy to fall into if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
If you’ve ever had a friend or acquaintance contact you through a messaging platform asking you to start selling a diet or fitness product with them, likely they are trying to pull you into one of these types of businesses.
Yes, some people have been successful with MLM’s but more than likely, you’ll come out on the other side having not made any money, or in significant debt.
Here is a list of some popularly known companies that use multi-level network marketing:
- Arbonne Internation
- Mary Kay
- It Works!
- Nu Skin
- Pampered Chef
Look for legitimate opportunities that are in alignment with your experience, skills, and passions. Do your research as you would with any other position you apply for, and soon you’ll be working from the comfort of your home!
Working from home certainly allows for creativity. If you’re someone who likes flexibility and the ability to shape your own career, it could be a good path to follow.
Remote work is not for everyone! Although the Coronavirus pandemic has put a large portion of the working community in a position where they have no other choice – many people love remote work and you may want to think about pursuing this type of career.
We’ll outline some personality traits that may help you understand if working from home long-term is for you.
This is especially important if you work for a startup. Your day-to-day schedule can change in an instant depending on client requests or new projects that come in.
If you’re someone who cannot easily shift from one task to another or cannot multi-task, this may not be the right type of work for you.
Driven & Independent
Working from home can be lonely. You’ll have to be able to motivate yourself and make sure you stay hungry for the goal ahead. Not being around coworkers can make this a challenge.
Having a strong drive and independent work ethic will allow you to be successful day after day.
You’ll see “entrepreneurial spirit” often on job listings for remote work at startups. What they’re referring to is that you’re someone who will be on board for owning and building your own piece of the company through your role.
The phrase “it takes a village” is especially true of small startups that are fully remote. Everyone will have to be fully invested in the gameplan.
Timely & Responsible
Not having projects and tasks done on time isn’t an option whether you work remotely or in an office. However, especially with remote work, it’s important for every team member to understand what needs to get done and when.
You’ll have to stay on top of what’s on your schedule and it’s easier to miss deadlines when you don’t have others around the office to remind you. We have some tools and resources down below that will help with this if you’re new to remote work.
This is probably the most important trait you can have if you’re deciding to work remotely. Being at home, distractions are abundant. Whether its kids, the television, or your loud neighbor downstairs – there are a lot of other things to focus on than your work.
Creating a space where you can isolate and stay dialed in is important to get your work done and keep your eye on the tasks at hand. If you’re the distracted type and tend to get easily pulled away from your work, this career path may not be right for you.
The 9-5 grind isn’t for everyone. If you’re interested in an adaptable schedule to complement your lifestyle, some remote work jobs allow you to customize your schedule based on your needs and interests.
This is especially true if you run your own business from home, but other positions like commission-based roles will more easily allow you to get the work done when you want to.
Keep in mind flexibility comes with additional responsibility. You’ll have to stay on top of your tasks and make sure the work gets done. Flexibility doesn’t mean less work or fewer hours, it just means you can do the work when it’s most convenient for you.
There’s no doubt that one of the most arduous parts of a traditional office job (especially if you live in a large city) is the commute. Sitting in traffic, bumper to bumper delays, pure boredom. It can all add up, day after day.
Working remotely eliminates this tedious task. You don’t have to worry about being late or getting home after the kids’ bedtime.
Not only that but you’ll save tons of money from not having to purchase gasoline or a train ticket, you won’t have to pay for parking, and the maintenance on your car will be significantly reduced.
If that’s not enough to convince you, take into consideration there were 36,560 deaths from vehicle crashes in the United States in 2018. You’re keeping yourself safe by staying home and driving less!
Create your own environment
For some people, this is the most important perk of remote work! Some offices are cold and dreary while others have blinding fluorescent lights. Uncomfortable chairs and incorrect height desks abound.
At home – you create your own environment. Want to work on the couch? You can! Want to work in your bed, go for it!
Working remotely allows you to control how your workspace feels and this can be a big deal. In a study done by Fellows, 87% of workers would like their current employer to offer healthier workspace benefits. Needless to say, it’s important to feel good about the space we work in.
More time with family and friends
With the flexibility and lack of commute offered by working remotely, it opens up the door to spend more time with loved ones. This can increase happiness and lead to a more fulfilling life in general. When you’re happy, you’re more likely to stay working where you are and less likely to job hop, which is only becoming more and more common.
Offer more flexible & generous benefits
With lower overhead costs, remote work employers are able to provide excellent benefits to their employees, including unlimited time off, health coverage, and paid-for staff getaways to exotic locations.
This is one huge way remote work employers are able to secure the highest caliber employees, traditional office work employers just can’t compete at the same level.
If you’re looking for remote work, make sure to scan over the benefits as some employers really throw down for their staff!
Challenging timelines and waiting
Working with a remote team can be difficult. One of these challenges are the ever-changing timelines and waiting on task completion.
Without in-office communication, timelines and deadlines can become obscured or lost. You may find yourself without a clear task to work on, waiting on another team or person to complete their work so that you can proceed.
It can be tricky to navigate this situation remotely as you do not want to rush your colleagues or do nothing while you’re waiting.
Boredom & Loneliness
For extroverts and social people, this may be the biggest downside to working remotely.
For most of your day outside of meetings, you may sit in silence. “Water cooler chat” is something that gives some people energy and offers a nice brain break from the grind. Although these breaks may not seem productive, taking breaks actually increases productivity and focus.
Without this, you’ll need to create your own breaks with other activities that typically don’t involve communicating with others. It really can get lonely and boring if you’re someone who needs people around you frequently.
This is the number one issue companies face with remote work. Communication is so critical to internal productivity and business success. When every employee is on the other side of a computer screen instead of the other side of the office, words can get lost or misconstrued.
This can lead to issues with colleague relationships, project deadlines, and much more. If you’re someone who has trouble communicating in person, you may want to consider looking at different career pathways or prioritize this as a point of self-improvement.
Low overhead costs
Remote startups are becoming more and more common for many reasons, but low overhead costs are one of the leading justifications. Rent can be a huge toll on companies and with the risks of a startup, overhead expenses like this are not something you want to have to worry about.
Additional costs that can be avoided by operating a remote business include property insurance and taxes, supply costs, and utilities.
This can also reduce the need to raise significant capital prior to launching, which can be extremely challenging.
Hire who you want
Running a remote business means you have a lot of flexibility for hiring. You no longer have to rely on the population of your city, but rather, you can open up your options to nationwide or even global applicants.
This means you can find the most qualified employee for the role and ultimately run a more successful business.
A study done by Owl Labs proves that remote workers are happier and stay with their companies longer compared to the office-going counterparts. This is good news for employers since longevity and happiness are keys to success in the workplace.
Communication & team development
As if running a company wasn’t difficult enough, operating a remote team comes with many challenges. You’ll need to figure out how to efficiently manage communication among your staff without seeing them in person. We outline some tools below that can help with this.
Continued education and making sure your employees stay sharp is important to continually improve your company as a whole. Implementing a continued educated system may be more challenging in a remote work environment.
More difficult to manage teams
Successful managers maintain close communication with their teams, uncovering team needs and pivoting to respond to those needs in real-time. Engaging with a remote workforce can put a strain on this process, as feedback and two-way communication are much more likely to break down.
When managing a remote team, it is important to develop flexible communication structures that can easily pivot to the differing needs of your team members and workflow processes.
More difficult to create community relationships
When starting a new business, relationships are key. You’ll need to leverage every contact possible to push your company forward. Community involvement is one great way to do this.
Partnering with the local Chamber of Commerce or doing volunteer projects become less of an option if you and your team are remote.
Consider the type of relationships you’ll need to create and rely on in order to successfully grow your company, and assess if being remote will be a hindrance.
Like searching for traditional jobs, finding remote work takes work.
Remote jobs can be especially difficult to land, as it takes more time to build a relationship and trust with the prospective employer.
You may also need proof that you can work well remotely, even if you haven’t before. Highlighting the above personality traits if they are your strong suit could help you stand out to the prospective employer.
You’ll want to make sure you have a reliable internet connection wherever you plan to work, and a capable computer with a decent webcam and microphone, since this is how you will be interviewing and communicating with the employer.
There are several avenues for applying for remote work, the most commonly used being job boards. Using job boards can be an arduous approach, however, especially with remote work, since it will be more difficult to portray yourself beyond your resume and cover letter.
Maintaining connections and reaching out within your network to make contacts with someone related to your target company could be a much faster way in.
If your only option is to go through online job boards, there are some excellent remote work specific websites that will help.
Here are some recommended remote work job websites:
If you’re considering a freelance position rather than working for one entity, there is a completely different set of sites that you’ll want to look into.
Freelance work allows you to complete smaller projects one client at a time under your own name. However, this method of remote work can be challenging to sustain, as you will not have sponsored benefits or the same support that comes from working for a business entity.
People who are successful with this approach are extremely hard working and talented at their craft.
Here are the best websites for finding freelance work:
We are hiring here at Nomadic and have a mix of on-site and remote employees. If you’re interested in joining our team, please visit our careers page.
Working from home has become the new norm. Some estimates predict that around 56% of the U.S. workforce are able to work from home.
This means likely that figure is near its peak currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When in the past this way of working was niche, it is now completely mainstream.
Just look at how search queries around working remotely have exploded in the past month:
This also means a lot of you who are reading this, did not choose to work from home. Any time we get put into a challenging position we did not choose to take on, it can be met with contention and an emotional internal struggle.
While it would be great to think this will all be over soon, the reality is our world is changing forever because of this outbreak. You may not be working remotely forever but it is important to keep your eye on the long term game.
As best you can, settle into your new working situation and do whatever you can to make it manageable and comfortable. Accepting the situation you are in and doing the best you can with what you have will allow you to keep a positive mindset moving forward.
Take this one day at a time and know that it won’t always be the way it is today.
Everyone who does remote work lives on an island
Sometimes when people imagine working remotely, they see someone on an island laying in a hammock, laptop sitting next to them with a margarita in hand.
The reality is, most remote work happens from a home office. Sure, some people work on islands, but at the end of the day, you’ll need a productive place to get your work done on a day-to-day basis.
Every remote job pays six figures and up
No, not every person who works remotely is a millionaire entrepreneur with an offshore account. Yes, some remote work jobs do pay generously, but with remote work becoming more and more common, more typical everyday positions are being filled.
Common work from home jobs will pay anywhere from $30,000 to $125,000 per year depending on the role and your level of experience.
Remote jobs are easy
If you’re picturing yourself napping in between meetings and clicking away at the keyboard every so often with Netflix playing on the side, you’re in for a rude awakening. Similar to on-site jobs you’ll have to be dialed in and focused every hour of the workday. Remote jobs are just as demanding, if not more so than in-office positions.
Remote workers work less
If you think you’re going to be living the 4-hour workweek right out of the gate with your remote job, you’re dead wrong. Remote workers put in similar hours to their office counterparts because, the reality is, there’s still just as much work to get done!
If you’re starting up your own business or freelancing, you may have to double those hours. The demands of making your own income are even greater.
People who work remotely never get out of their pajamas
This may be true for some, but in order to sustain a long-term career in remote work, you’ll need to get serious and sometimes that means getting dressed! Getting out of your pajamas helps you get productive.
Work from home jobs are scams
Yes, there are absolutely work from home scams that you need to watch out for. Do your research and make sure you have study the prospective company well before you dive in. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
There are many legitimate work from home opportunities and we recommend sticking to the job boards above to find those if that’s the method of searching you’ll be doing.
Keep in Touch
The #1 most critical step to successfully manage a remote team is maintaining clear and regular two-way communications. Research tells us that communication breakdown is the leading culprit for most, if not all, organizational challenges. Managing a remote workforce makes this scenario even more likely.
Managers should implement daily check-in meetings with their teams, ensuring team members have an opportunity to provide feedback on active projects, ask important questions, and clarify expectations. If possible, these meetings should take place “face-to-face” via teleconference, to reduce feelings of impersonalization and maximize the team connection.
Keep your door open (even if virtually), and let your team know you’re here for them throughout the day if needed.
Let’s face it – managing workplace expectations (including your own) can be one of the toughest day-to-day responsibilities a manager faces. Managing a remote team makes this even more challenging. You’re juggling the needs of your team, the needs of your clients or customers, and your needs as a manager – it can get exhausting!
The good news is there are many tools available to help managers define scope, deadlines, and deliverables for their teams. Investing in a robust project management platform, such as Asana or ClickUp, is a great solution. For organizations looking to minimize costs, a well-organized spreadsheet tracking system is another good alternative.
Don’t forget to make sure expectations are realistic and timely, and that you are clear about the purpose of each task and how success will be measured.
Trust Your Team
The success of remote teams depends heavily on trust. Just as team members must trust in managers to support them, managers must also trust their team to get the job done. Instead of focusing solely on the hours worked and activities completed, focus on measuring overall outcomes and results.
To increase trust in your organization, encourage open team communication, be considerate and respectful, and make sure to show your support of the team whenever possible.
Developing a healthy workplace culture is important not just for our mental health, but also our work performance. Remote teams are certainly at a disadvantage here as compared to co-located teams, and it might be hard to imagine where to begin when managing remotely.
As a manager, you can build time into your team’s schedule for socialization, and encourage a healthy and productive level of interpersonal connection. This time doesn’t have to be formally structured – making time for informal chats at the beginning or end of meetings, or sharing funny cat memes throughout the day can go a long way!
It is important to remain flexible when managing remote teams, especially in our current environment. As formerly co-located teams move to completely remote work, managers should expect the team’s needs and routines may also change.
Managers should remain flexible in terms of individual working hours and circumstances. Growing trends indicate that the traditional 9 – 5 is out, as individuals increasingly seek less structured work hours. The key is to trust your team to get the work done in a way that allows them to be the most productive and satisfied with their work.
Have clear communication
This cannot be overstated enough, communication is key when working from home. We suggest laying out clear guidelines for communication within your company and team.
Make sure to be extremely clear when communicating tasks and project details. The one way to for a project to quickly fail is to lose communication or clarity.
Use tools like Slack and Google’s Suite of utilities to maintain clear lines.
Set a schedule and plan your day
If you’re working from home as a freelancer or you’re starting your own business, your day-to-day schedule may not be one hundred percent clear. Setting deadlines and having a schedule for yourself each day will be important to keep you on task and working as efficiently as possible.
Create boundaries if you’re working from home
One risk of working from home is getting distracted. Stay away from the television and set a defined workspace where you can have privacy and minimize contact from others who may interrupt your day.
It’s important that you are able to stay focused in your environment. We recommend having a dedicated at-home office and defining work hours with any family members who may be home while you’re working.
Take breaks and get outside
Taking breaks is critical to your productivity and your sanity. When you’re working from home with such few distractions, it can be easy to get lost in your work.
Make sure to be intentional about taking breaks, even if you break them up into small ten-minute increments. This will have a positive impact on your productivity and happiness.
Embrace your downtime and get outside for fresh air to renew your mind and gain a fresh perspective.
If you don’t know what’s expected of you, it can be difficult to provide your best work possible.
Make sure to talk clearly with your management team (or the team you are managing) and double-check that you know what is expected. Since you are working remotely, things can easily fall through the cracks.
Upgrade your internet connection
Without a corporate workspace, you will be reliant on your own internet connection. The last thing you want is for your internet to be cutting out in the middle of an important video conference with a prospective client.
Ensuring that you have a solid and fast connection is important to your productivity and success.
We recommend 50 Mbps and up if you’ll be putting a heavy strain on your internet while working from home.
Be flexible and understanding of others
With remote work, mistakes can happen and timelines will change. Having patience and being able to transition when needed are important traits. Make sure to communicate with your colleagues and work with them through any mistakes or hurdles.
Zoom, Google Hangouts
Both Zoom and Google Hangouts are great tools for video conference calls. Zoom has gained incredible popularity during the Coronavirus pandemic, and for good reason. It is a highly reliable and versatile video calling software. If you’re looking for ease of use, Google Hangouts may be the better option, although it’s less adaptable than Zoom.
Google Drive, Google Calendar, Gmail, etc.
The G Suite set of tools is essential for anyone serious about their work. These are the standard utilities for most companies, and you should expect to be using most of them.
Internal Chat and Text Communication
Slack has gained momentum in the past several years, becoming a staple among tech startups. Slack allows you to have a channel of communication with your entire team that is much faster and organized than email.
Your Slack workspace can be divided up into channels both public and private, allowing you to compartmentalize each discussion.
More importantly, you can use the /giphy command to lighten the mood!
ClickUp & Asana
Keeping track of timelines, deliverables, and team capacity is simplified with project management software like ClickUp or Asana. Both products are highly customizable, optimized for the user experience, and chocked full of robust features and integration capabilities.
We like ClickUp’s analytics, reporting, and goal-tracking features, in particular!
Spelling and grammar mistakes are real! We all make them and it can look unprofessional or even lead to serious misunderstandings. Grammarly is a tool that you can install to your browser that will check your spelling and grammar across the web, whether you’re typing an email or writing a blog.
LastPass allows you to organize all of your passwords into one place so you never lose them or have to remember what they are. It’s extremely secure and credentials can be shared across the company or kept under lock and key in individual accounts.
BONUS #1: Get to know your staff and colleagues better by taking the 16 Personalities personality test. The test has extremely comprehensive results about each personality type and even an entire section dedicated to how to work well with each person.
BONUS #2: Looking forward to an even deeper dive into the remote work lifestyle and how to adapt to it? Hop over to Toptal’s Suddenly Remote Playbook and learn from the world’s largest fully remote company.
You’re now equipped to take on remote work! We hope you found this information helpful, please pass this on to someone who needs it.
What do you find most challenging about working from home? Comment below!