Why we need more remote career opportunities (and not more remote gigs)

Remote work still is mainly associated with project-based freelance work. In fact, this is the misconception I most often have to correct when I explain what we are doing at acework. We want to place people in companies where they can build a remote career, not just complete a short-term project.

Whether they stay with the company for six months or ten years, we want to make sure that they receive the same opportunities in terms of promotions, learning and integration as non-remote colleagues.

Fully distributed (100% remote) companies don’t face this problem of inequality. In addition, many also wow their employees with generous health and wellness benefits, coworking allowances and education budgets. Unfortunately, fully distributed companies are still the exception, and most of them are startups and/or tech companies, such as AutomatticHotjarZapier and Buffer.

This is why companies must create more real career opportunities for the remote workforce:

It’s not about side-hustling while backpacking through South East Asia

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Digital nomads are growing up, according to Eva Reder. This means the prejudice of remote workers wanting to live on a beach in Bali has to be a thing of the past. A recent study by And.co and Remote Year even wants to ditch the overused term ‘remote’ and coin “anywhere workers” instead. This better describes a group that also includes home-officers, new mothers, and people living in the countryside but working for companies located in urban areas.

A large number of anywhere workers demands the flexibility of remote work without giving up on the benefits of having a stable job, which makes them unsuitable for the gig economy. The gig economy has been on the rise for several years with platforms like Fiverr or UpWork connecting freelancers to projects across the world. On one hand, this has been a huge push for remote work, which has become normalised for a growing part of the workforce. On the other hand, the gig economy comes with certain perils, including higher risk, lower payouts and social isolation for freelancers.

Remote employment brings longevity to shape and execute company strategies

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Companies are changing faster than ever and a lot of times short-term project-based work, or gigs, is the best way to move them forward. Classic examples include design work such as UX/UI, graphic or web design, but also software engineering and research work. The advantages of the gig economy are indisputable, and I would be a hypocrite to condemn it since we built acework with a number of great freelancers as well.

Nevertheless, companies still require full-time employees or long-term contractors to drive company goals, culture and strategy. Hiring remotely gives access to a larger talent pool, to find the smartest minds and best possible candidate for key roles. Eventually, the best talent will determine a company’s competitiveness in the market.

There’s an oversupply of remote workers

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For anywhere workers, the job market is actually quite tough. While the rest of the economy in Europe and the US is desperately looking for talent, the global “remote talent pool” is facing oversupply. To make matters worse, the number of full-time remote career opportunities is only a fraction of the whole remote job market, which mostly consists of gigs. One major gig platform alone records an oversupply of 1,576,600 workers.

This is a great opportunity of employers to cherry-pick the best candidates. So why do companies shy away from offering remote positions? Aside from “cultural barriers” (more on that later), finding the perfect person can be daunting. The talent pool is simply too large and there’s a definite lack of trust when it comes to remote applicants.

In order to improve matchmaking and to find the needle in the haystack (on both sides), we need new categorisation since location is no longer a filter. Starting with the type of job: full-time or part-time can be searched on most job boards. Contract or employment options (with benefits?) are harder to find, since this often depends on the country the candidate is registered in. Long-term or short-term commitment is kept vague more often than not.

Remote workers often guess if they fit the job requirements, or if the job matches their expectations. This leads to a lot of unqualified applications and a tedious hiring process. A stellar example of crystal clear requirements and successful remote hiring is GitLab, the first remote tech unicorn. Their employee and applicant guidebook leaves no question unanswered.

In order to successfully manage the inflow of applicants and deliver a stellar candidate experience, companies should work with a robust applicant tracking system.

Shared mission and values drive commitment and efficiency

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This really is Business 101, but still often overlooked when it comes to working with remote talent in general. Often that’s freelancers, agencies or even outsourcing companies. Frustration and miscommunication on both sides are common side-effects of working with the above.

“It didn’t even work out with agency XY, so remote employment definitely isn’t for us” –

I’ve heard this from remote work opposers many times, but it is like comparing apples to oranges.

Why? Usually, there’s no common mission or shared values between the entities. It’s not required and often not worth the effort for short-term gigs. Eventually, this builds up frustration during recurring projects.

Dealing with a remote workforce is a different ballgame. It is true that building a great remote culture is much harder than a regular office culture. However, hiring for shared mission and values is the first step. Remote workers can feel isolated or not included in the company’s goal. By ensuring great cultural fit and motivation through shared goals, remote workers are much more likely to be effective. An added bonus is lower employee turnover. Successful remote recruiters focus on mission and values. 

Is your company looking into offering remote positions, or are you already 100% remote? Connect with us at acework to match with the best remote talent and to build a thriving remote culture.

Or email us: hello@acework.io

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