Working remotely has become far more mainstream in the last few years
With the COVID-19 pandemic in full flow the numbers of people working remotely has mushroomed. The pandemic has demonstrated to many employers that remote work is not only viable but offers the opportunity to make significant costs savings while also increasing staff satisfaction and retention. With a surge in unemployment looking inevitable, it’s important that employees know how to seek out every possibility for potential work. As long as you have saleable skills, it isn’t difficult to find a remote job and earn a good living as a remote worker.
So how do you find a remote job?
There are a variety of ways you can work remotely. The first for many people is with their existing employer who may offer the opportunity to work from home for some or all of the week. This is far easier to achieve than it used to be with the pandemic having removed many of the insecurities that employers used to feel about loss of control with people working away from the office.
If you’re looking for a new role, while not many years ago this might have been seen as an odd question to ask at an interview, don’t be afraid to ask a potential new employer what their policy is on working from home. You’ll usually be met with a constructive response. Some big employers even before the pandemic positively encouraged employees to work from home. It keeps their overheads low and may also fit in with what they’re trying to sell to their customers. My history with remote work goes back 15 years and in those early days I talked to both IBM and BT who were enthusiastically embracing it. This was the way they saw things going and were positioning themselves to learn lessons from their own experiences which would help them market solutions to their customers.
The other main routes to find a remote job are running your own business from home or to look directly for remote roles through the many websites and agencies advertising them.
There is little doubt that after the experience of the COVID-19 epidemic, remote working opportunities will rocket. As a very small example, I’ve been attending a French conversational class for a couple of years. It’s run by a teacher who leads a number of classes on different days and in locations within a 20-mile radius. During the COVID-19 lockdown the group has gone online and started using Zoom. This has worked very well and suddenly, with its geographic limitations removed, started attracting members from much further afield. She also runs Spanish conversational classes and has attracted two British participants who live in Spain who want to improve their language skills. Suddenly almost by accident, the owner has transformed a local business into an internet one and all of the potential growth opportunities that might lead to.
Lots of small businesses are run remotely, some have an office with a small number of people but all of their clients are remote, some have no office but come together as a team to work effectively. I’ve been working as a consultant to a small American IT company for a few years. All of their employees work from home and a number are contractors. This works very well for them. Their overheads are low and as business expands and contracts it’s very easy to flex their workforce.
What jobs can be carried out remotely?
So if you’re wondering what jobs are available to be carried out remotely you can start with the thought that almost any office based job could be remote and carry on from there. A quick scan of remote jobs recently advertised included: IT developers, IT testers, IT support, Copy/Content editors, Customer service, Graphic design/Photo editing, Sales consultant, Marketing and communications manager, Education/On-line learning, Health, Counselling, Recruitment, Clothes design, Procurement, Translator, On-line journalism, Data analyst, Insurance claims, Project manager, Growth hacker, Payments processing, Mortgage broker, Bid/Proposal writer, Litigation attorney. And of course, there are many more.
The world of remote work is expanding and is truly international. There are some roles that will of course never be remote e.g. manufacturing, construction, hospitality and personal services such as hairdressing and dentistry, but if you’re looking to find a remote job than there are thousands advertised weekly.
Working for an employer
So, if you’re looking to find a remote job you need to think more broadly than you would for office-based work. Remote work is international and while there will be some restrictions where local knowledge is required, if you have a skill such as computer programming, project management, copy writing, design, journalism, sales, marketing or procurement these are in demand worldwide.
All job sites ask you to enter the role you’re looking for and a location. Most but not all will allow you to enter ‘remote’ as location. This works for Linkedin, Monster, JobServe, Indeed, Glassdoor and many others.
On top of this there are specialist remote work sites such as Remote Jobs, Flexjobs, We Work Remotely and Workew who only advertise remote jobs. These are some of the longest established sites but with crisis being the mother of invention, new remote job sites are springing up all of the time.
If you search for #remotejobs on Twitter you’ll get lots of hits for remote work. You can also join Facebook groups set up for remote jobs, just search for remote jobs and you’ll find lots of groups where jobs are advertised and where you can post saying you’re looking for a remote job – you’d be surprised how effective that can be.
The jobs advertised will be both permanent and contract positions but if you do intend working for yourself or setting up your own business to market your skills then you’re better to look at the gig economy – people offering temporary positions or complete pieces of work for a fixed fee.
Working for yourself
This is an ever growing and truly international market and there are some good people out there who will help you market your talents.
Toptal – short for Top Talent – they claim to have the top 3% of the world’s talent to hire on a contract basis. Toptal work more like a traditional recruitment company but focus on supplying quality individuals. If you think you have a top talent then try Toptal.
Freelancer – is one of the longest established sites for contract work with a huge number of contractors registered for work on it (they claim 15 million) and a very wide range of skills. Buyers post work and contractors bid for the work.
Fiverr – works in the opposite way to Freelancer, you post your services and rates and buyers find you and employ you, but be aware that Fiverr rates as the name suggest start very low. Fiverr has been accused of encouraging a race to the bottom as sellers from all over the world try to undercut each other on rates. If you use Fiverr you’ll need a strategy to upsell more expensive services or you’ll work very hard for little income!
Most of these sites deal with invoicing the customer and take a cut of what you earn.
Of course, you can forget all of the above, build your own website and market yourself. In fact, you could use Fiverr to find a website designer and get exactly what you want built very cheaply. As all small business owners will tell you, setting up a business is easy, it’s getting customers that’s difficult and the best way to do this is through contacts rather than advertising. I’d recommend you carefully cultivate contacts wherever you work. If it’s in your mind to work for yourself at some point then connect through Linkedin with everyone you meet, but also invite work acquaintances to become Facebook friends – you might want to have two Facebook accounts, one for personal friends and the other for work acquaintances, but it’s a very effective way of staying in people’s consciousness and contacting them if you’re looking for work.
If you have to rely on advertising then try free posts on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin first and try to work out what captures most attention. If you’re selling a scarce skill then try to use SEO to get on the first page of a Google search…this is of course easier said than done and can cost a lot of money to achieve.
Gren Gale is an author and consultant