Flexibility, travel, more interesting employment opportunities—these are a few of the main reasons people decide to work remotely. Sixty-eight percent of workers in the US say they expect to work more remotely in the future. More companies are offering remote opportunities, which I’ve boiled down into three models.
1. Digital Nomad
Digital nomads work from their computer while traveling. They may or may not have a home base, but typically they spend most of their time on the road. Some run their own web-based businesses, freelance or work for a company that provides flexible schedule and location options.
In 2017, a friend of mine sold everything she owned, save what fit in her luggage, sold her condo and began housesitting abroad. She doesn’t have a home-base, though she does spend longer periods of time housesitting in one place (1 month-ish).
Another friend of mine travels for a few months at a time, and then comes back home and looks for an apartment to rent. She stores her belongings with family while away.
A few cons about being a digital nomad include difficulty finding reliable wifi at times, the constant packing and unpacking, and communicating with clients in different time zones. You’ll also want to create a working situation that allows you the time to explore where you are (otherwise, what’s the point right?). It’s a good idea to set yourself up with a remote working situation first and test it out before you go traveling, to ensure you’re not stuck job-less and broke somewhere where you don’t speak the native language.
2. Remote Employee
In a previous post, I shared some of the top companies and job opportunities available for remote work. Amazon, for example, is a big hirer of remote employees. You’re typically expected to have a home office and you’ll work a specified number of hours weekly or monthly for your bi-weekly paycheque. It’s just like having a normal job, but without the commute (and you can wear your yoga gear all day long).
I’m a great example of a remote employee. I work 35 hours a week, decide when I work those hours (though I make myself available for instant messaging all day), I get assigned tasks and projects, and I get paid every two weeks. While writing this, I’m sitting in a coworking space in Spain but mostly I work from my home office in Canada.
A few cons about being a remote employee include having a set number of vacation days that you need to plan ahead of time (some companies offer unlimited vacation, but you’ll be expected to keep up with deadlines which can make it hard to take a lot of vacation), being available for meetings at weird hours of the day depending on where your co-workers live (I’ve had meetings at 7pm and at 5am), and you’re on a fixed salary. If you want to start a business or try freelancing, becoming a remote employee first is a good way to transition.
3. Contracting and Freelancing
In this situation, you’ll work on a per-project basis. It technically works like running a business and you’re specifically selling your services for dollars.
I attended a talk earlier this year by a man who helps large enterprises manage change. For example, if there is a merger he can help find ways to combine or renew company culture. As part of his contract, the company will fly him to where their corporate office is located and he’ll spend a specified amount of time there where he’ll be required to work until the in-person part of the project’s complete. This kind of work requires specialized skills and experience, and good connections.
Freelance travel writers will write about their experience in hotels and at attractions. If they’re contracted by a magazine, the magazine will often cover the writer’s expenses. Some writers will travel first and then pitch the story, meaning that they need to cover their own travel expenses.
A few cons about freelance and contract work include not always being able to forecast your income, the admin work required to be constantly pitching clients and searching for gigs, and if you’re solo, convincing clients to hire you over a team. The dream for many is to be on a retainer contract, which means you have recurring hours or project work every month (and a steady income stream!) or landing long-term project. You have far more control over the type of work and the amount of vacation you can take with this model, though.
Consider what model works best with the lifestyle you’d like to live and how you’d like to generate income. For example, if not knowing where your next payment’s going to come from stresses you out too much, then a remote employee position might be best. There are part-time and full-time opportunities that fall within all of these models. If you’re seriously considering working from home, there is probably something out there for you. Start looking!
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