Have you noticed that there are more and more products and services for digital nomads? From six month “travel and work” programs (Remote Year) to co-living spaces in locations like Bali or Tulum (Roam, Outsite), the whole industry around remote work has exploded in the last two years. Meanwhile, you’re probably still sitting at your desk in an office surrounded by your coworkers, watching this with envy. When freelancing or self-employment don’t seem right for you, finding a remote job could be the answer. Whether it’s full-time or part-time, remote work can give you the best of both worlds: secured employment and maximum flexibility when it comes to work environment and schedule.
But is remote work right for you?
Before you dive into the job search and book your plane tickets to your dream destination, there are pros and cons to consider.
1. You can live wherever you want
Yes, technically you can set up your office in a hammock on Canggu beach, but will you be productive there? Finding a stimulating work environment is crucial to being effective. It’s also not a great idea to plan a 3-month South East Asia trip while working full-time in a serious position. If you want to live the nomadic lifestyle, pick one location for at least a few weeks at a time. Make sure you arrange travel on the weekends or times you’re not required to be available for work. That way you have enough time to complete your responsibilities while also immersing yourself in the culture of your destination.
Time zones and work permits put some limitations on this. It’s important to check with your employer what’s expected of and required from you before you start your remote job.
2. Your home can be your office
You’re not a world traveller, but working from home is your dream come true? Setting up an office at home is one of the greatest pleasures. Finally you don’t have look at your coworkers cat poster or go hunting for your favorite mug. Is it in dishwasher, dirty in the sink or does your company nemesis hog it again? Working from home promises all the comforts you’re missing at the office. Nevertheless, you’ll want to clearly distinguish your work space from your personal space. Working in bed, for example, is definitely not a good idea and can even compromise your quality of sleep.
3. Your job will most likely be highly independent
Since your boss can’t look over your shoulder and control your every move, a job well done will depend entirely on you. They will also judge you almost entirely by outcomes and the quality of your work, and not on how much time you spend completing it. On the upside, staying late at the office to “show your commitment” or how hard you’re working is a thing of the past, too.
It counts to be effective, because a completed task means you can move on to personal things. This also means that you’ll have to motivate yourself every day to show up and perform. Obviously it helps to do a job you actually enjoy doing. If you hate customer service at the office, it’s unlikely that you’ll love it working from home. If anything, it’ll be harder to get out of bed in the morning and be disciplined about completing your tasks.
But while nobody likes a micromanager, remote work requires carefully structured communication and clear goal setting. It is crucial that you, your team and your boss align expectations to avoid misunderstandings and develop trust in each other.
4. You get in the zone because nobody distracts you
While working from home can certainly provide a variety of distractions, nothing is as distracting as a constant stream of coworkers stopping at your desk. Whether they have an “urgent” question, or just want to gush over last weekend’s adventures, it’s easy to waste a couple of hours on office chit chat. The same goes for poorly structured, or completely pointless, meetings. “Meeting mania” eats away at your time at the office, and often ends in the actual work being done after hours (probably at home!).
If you’re suffering from interruptions to your flow and the resulting ineffectiveness, remote may be the way to go. Being physically removed from your coworkers forces everyone to rethink the purpose and method of reaching out to you. Meetings have to be well structured in order for remote workers to understand and contribute. Chat programs like Slack collect questions and chit chat, which you can respond to in your own time.
5. You’ll have more time for friends and family
Time is money, but you’re also saving actual cash by skipping the daily commute to the office. That’s why choosing the right work space is crucial. If home office is not for you, joining a nearby co-working space (such as WeWork) can be a great option, and many remote employers will subsidise your choice. Cutting out the commute gives you the extra hours you need to prepare a special meal for your loved ones, intensify a hobby or simply get in a few extra sessions at the gym.
Overall, remote work has the potential to really kickstart healthy habits. These range from small changes such as home-cooked lunches (that save you extra dollars too!) to big shifts like moving to the countryside and embracing an outdoor lifestyle.
Ready for a remote job? Find yours here.