COVID-19 has changed business forever, and you can use that to your advantage.
As the global workforce was sheltered in place due to COVID-19, remote working went from roughly 30% of employees working from home “some of the time” to 100% working remotely in many industries.
In 2021 and beyond, we expect working from home will become the new normal for the majority of office workers.
Going remote, however, isn’t as easy as you might think.
It’s a difficult transition for everyone, whether you’re an employee looking to improve productivity, a manager looking for tools to better run their team, or a job-seeker looking for a remote position.
Whether you just started a new job, are searching now, or will make moves in the future, it will be helpful to know how to set yourself up for success if you’re starting a job remotely.
To help make the transition easier for everyone, we compiled this guide!
What is Remote Work?
Remote work is a working style that allows professionals to work outside of a traditional office environment. It is based on the concept that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be executed successfully. Remote work describes a professional environment in which employees can work from home or any other location outside their company’s physical office. Oftentimes, that involves creating a workspace at home. However, working remotely can extend beyond the confines of your living space.
Previously, working remotely in this way would have been challenging — mainly because of technology and resource constraints. Now, collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, and Wrike have helped bridge that technology gap, enabling more people to work remotely and collaborate on the go.
Remote Work – Pros and Cons
Advantages of remote work
- A greater pool of potential talent (almost no geographical limitations) for employers
- Employees keep full pay and benefits
- Employees (and employers) save commuting time and costs
- Higher autonomy and fewer office interruptions can increase the productivity of employees
- Employees can completely customize their working setup
- May assist employees with disabilities
- May extend the company’s operational hours
- Less parking spots and office space needed
- Lower carbon footprint
Disadvantages of remote work
- Less suitable for positions that require the use of specialized equipment
- Fewer networking opportunities for employees
- Heat and electric bills at employees’ homes may increase
- Some employees could be less productive in this arrangement
- Some employees may feel overlooked and isolated
- Harder to build team spirit, peer-to-peer connections, and to manage people
- Could create difficulty in scheduling meetings and coordinating projects
- More difficult to supervise and evaluate work
Remote Work During COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a global impact on countries, organizations, and citizens. Many have made the abrupt shift to working from home; millions have lost jobs.
During COVID-19, BBC Worklife spoke to dozens of experts, leaders, and professionals across the globe to ask: what are the greatest unknowns we face? How will we work, live and thrive in the post-pandemic future? How is Covid-19 reshaping our world – potentially, forever?
Today, we’re starting by looking at the issue of work: how the pandemic has normalized remote work, and what that might mean.
The biggest impact of Covid-19 may be remote work. Pre-pandemic, roughly five percent of full-time employees with office jobs worked primarily from home. In May 2020, 42% of Americans aged 20-64 earning more than $20,000 were working from home full-time, according to a Stanford University survey – which equates to more than two-thirds of US economic activity. That’s compared to just 2% working full-time from home before the pandemic
On average, 44% of workers could work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey of Chief Human Resource Officers for the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report.
Some companies may have previous experience in implementing remote work arrangements and many companies have to implement remote work for the first time. For example, a survey conducted in March 2020 of 250 large firms in Argentina found that 93 percent had adopted teleworking as a policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the Indian business process outsourcing giant, Tata Consultancy Services, reported that around 85 percent of its 400,000 employees in India and elsewhere in the world were working from home as a result of lockdowns.
Although many companies recognize the benefits of WFH, some have had difficulty making the
transition. In Japan, for example, a survey conducted before the 7 April announcement of a state of emergency found that while 96 percent of respondents agreed with the importance of WFH or working remotely, 31 percent of companies were unable to adopt this form of working. The main reason was that paperwork was not digitized and the required internal rules and procedures for teleworking were not ready. Concerns over the confidentiality of information or possible security breaches can also limit the use of WFH.
Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also struggle with WFH, and several recent surveys demonstrate this. The Argentine SME Observatory for example found that SMEs use telework much less than by large companies.
There are huge disparities between countries and sectors, the Future of Jobs Report found. Around 60% of workers in high-income countries such as the US and Switzerland are unable to fully work from home. This figure rises to more than 80-90% for economies such as Egypt and Bangladesh – mostly due to digital connectivity and the sectors common to those economies.
Remote Work After the Pandemic
A new study of pandemic-induced remote workers and their employers suggests that at least 16 percent will remain, at-home workers, long after the COVID-19 crisis has receded.
The percentage of workers permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021, according to a survey from Enterprise Technology Research (ETR). “The productivity metric is proving that remote work is working,” said Erik Bradley, chief engagement strategist at ETR. “So, we all thought that there would be some increase in permanent remote work, but we didn’t expect that to double from pre-pandemic levels.” Another recent Gartner CFO survey revealed that over two-thirds (74%) plan to permanently shift employees to remote work after the Covid-19 crisis ends.
As expected, Big Tech companies are paving the way. Twitter, based in San Francisco, told employees in May that they could work from home indefinitely. Square, which is also led by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, adopted a similar policy around the same time and will allow employees to work from home indefinitely, even after offices reopen. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees in late May that many would work remotely indefinitely and plans to keep staff remote through 2020.
We believe, based on historical trends, that those who were working remotely before the pandemic, will increase their frequency after they are allowed to return to their offices. For those who were new to remote work until the pandemic, we believe there will be a significant upswing in their adoption. It is estimated that we will see 25-30% of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021.
Remote Work Future Possibilities
Remote work was very rare a decade ago. Working from home was usually only available as a special arrangement to accommodate families in specific cases. However, teleconferencing and telework technology has advanced to the point where some businesses thrive with completely remote teams. In fact, it’s not uncommon for businesses to allow their employees to work from home once or twice a week.
While Covid-19 restrictions caused an abrupt shift, working from home was already accelerating. Research from FlexJobs found that the number of people in the United States who worked from home grew by an astounding 159 percent between 2005 and 2017.
Much of this growth can be attributed to freelancing. Upwork’s Freelancing in America 2019 survey found that the number of Americans who did freelance work grew from 53 million to 57 million between 2014 and 2019. Younger generations were especially likely to participate, with 40 percent of millennials and 53 percent of Generation Z contributing to the gig economy.
Fast Company predicts that remote work software, like mobile work tools and virtual reality conferencing, will become the preferred form of communication – even over face-to-face meetings. AI will also likely play a major role in managing remote staff.
These advancements might put companies more at ease. The transition to managing a remote workforce might be daunting, but with the right tech and hardworking employees, it can be a seamless process.
In the long run, fighting the change may do more harm than good. Many employees now expect remote work opportunities. According to Buffer, 99% of current remote workers would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers. That’s nine points higher than the figure from the same survey in the previous year.
Furthermore, according to Global Workplace Analytics, 37% of remote employees would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home. Because of this increasingly popular trend, some refuse to accept an onsite position, knowing they can find a more convenient and flexible gig elsewhere.
But on the other side, more than half the workforce, however, has little or no opportunity for remote work. Some of their jobs require collaborating with others or using specialized machinery; other jobs, such as conducting CT scans, must be done on location; and some, such as making deliveries, are performed while out and about. Many of such jobs are low wage and more at risk from broad trends such as automation and digitization. Remote work thus risks accentuating inequalities at a social level.
The potential for remote work varies across countries, a reflection of their sector, occupation, and activity mix. Business and financial services are a large share of the UK economy, for example, and it has the highest potential for remote work among the countries we examined. Its workforce could theoretically work remotely one-third of the time without a loss of productivity, or almost half the time but with diminished productivity. Other advanced economies are not far behind; their workforces could dedicate 28 to 30 percent of the time to working remotely without losing productivity.
How to Get Started a Remote Work
So you’ve convinced your boss to let you work remotely, or you’ve landed a new remote job. How can you stay productive, creative, inspired, and live up to all of the expectations that you’ve set for yourself within this new lifestyle?
Working from home isn’t easy, even for those who have been doing it for years. There are distractions, from chores to pets, that you used to leave behind when you went to work.
Here are some strategies that will help you to set yourself up for success during your remote job.
1. Assess your qualities and flaws
Make sure you have the right personality for remote work. A lot of people find it difficult not to have a boss looking over their shoulder and telling them what to do. If you’re not an independent worker with critical thinking skills and good communication, you may struggle with the arrangement.
You need a well-grounded reason to work remotely like “I live on another continent” or “I need a quiet space to work from”. Most remote workers I talked to named self-motivation as one of the primary reasons they started working remotely in the first place.
2. Set a clear work schedule or routine
It can be tempting to wake up late and work at odd hours, but you will benefit your mental health and the quality of your work by setting a schedule as if you were going into the office. Then stick to those hours. Setting a schedule not only provides structure to the day but also helps you stay motivated. Start the day as you would if you worked in an office: Get up early, get dressed, and try to avoid online distractions once you sit down to work.
3. Maintain a base level of pressure
You have to create some pressure on yourself. One of the problems of working from home is a lack of pressure or motivation. Feeling a lack of boundaries on when you need to start working (and stop!), when you need to get up and go to sleep when to log off of social media, and more can feel like true liberation. So, try to maintain work hours, set some goals, and achieve them within the deadline. This will help you to concentrate on your work and be more productive in your work. You can give your best when you have deadlines.
The key to being successful in any professional role is communication, but when it comes to remote work it is an even more important asset. Since you’re no longer a few desks down from your coworkers or your manager, it’s your job to schedule 1:1 check-in meetings with them every week to connect on your goals, upcoming projects, and daily tasks.
Make sure to advocate for yourself and clearly state the progress you’ve made in the past week, which goals you’ve surpassed, and which projects you’ve led. When you’re not in the office, it can be difficult for your manager to keep your work top-of-mind, so don’t be afraid to bring important milestones up on your own.
5. Invest in reliable tech
Any remote worker will tell you that access to consistent WiFi is integral to their success, but there’s more to a successful setup than an internet connection. Along with having the ability to make video calls without losing connection, you should consider what tools and tech you’ll need to do your job well. For example, many remote workers invest in a great pair of noise-canceling headphones so that they can take their work anywhere – regardless of background noise levels. Others find that wireless keyboards and mouses, or even a second screen, are integral to their efficiency.
6. Get to know your team
When you’re in the office, it’s easier to observe the workplace culture, how your team works, and the goals and objectives of the organization. It’s also easier to get to know your co-workers, but you can still establish strong relationships when you are in a remote work-from-home scenario. If you have a small team, send an email to each person to introduce yourself and tell them that you’re excited to work with them.
Normally, you’d sit next to a peer, go to lunch together, or chat before or after your meetings. Recreate that by asking a few people on the same level as you if they have time for a 10-minute phone call or videoconference or a “virtual lunch.” You’ll get a chance to learn more about how the team operates, how people communicate remotely—is it all through email, through Slack, or do people pick up the phone and call?—and you’ll have someone to turn to when you inevitably have questions.
7. Ask for help
In the office, colleagues often pick up on a quizzical facial expression or tone of voice and may offer assistance if they think you need it. On video and phone meetings, it’ll be hard for people to see if you are confused or not keeping up. As a rule, when there is something you need, say so.
You might be worried that your colleagues won’t want to help. After all, everyone has a lot already going on. Quite a bit of research by Vanessa Bohns and her colleagues suggests that people are often much more willing to help than you believe they will be. So, don’t wait for offers of assistance. Ask for what you need.
8. Have a dedicated workspace
Don’t work from the same room where your kids are. Or any other family members. This doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself though.
Use a space in your home that’s designated solely for work. Bringing in work materials can interfere with your ability to relax later on. And working from your couch can create mental associations that keep your mind occupied with professional obligations, even during off-hours. Even if you live in a tiny studio, set up a desk and chair and separate the professional from the personal. When you’re in that space, determine that only work-related activities will happen there. If a family member is at home during the day, ask them to treat that area as they would an office; meaning while you’re there, you’re not available.
9. Set up Google Calendar meetings
To be more effective in work, time management is a must. You need to set up your schedule, your daily routine, deadlines. Google calendar can help you to do all this and help you to remind you if you forget anything.
You should always enable notifications so that you don’t miss meetings or forget to complete urgent tasks. You can also customize your calendar view which will help you to only see the days in which you have meetings, so you can zero in on a scheduled meeting more easily.
10. Stay fit & exercise
First and foremost, stick to a routine that includes your regular exercise. Whether it’s an early morning workout to get the juices flowing or a post-work jog on the treadmill, building exercise into your daily planner can help you stay on track. Researchers found that workers who did 2.5 hours per week of exercise in place of work were just as productive – or even more productive – than those who didn’t. Instead of working out in the evenings when you’re likely too tired, make it a part of your regular daytime schedule. And don’t be surprised if your work output actually increases because of it!
11. Block Your Calendar For Breaks
Remaining stationary is a surefire way to feel sluggish. You should take regular breaks during your day to get out of your chair and move around. Research shows the optimal time to take breaks is every 50-90 minutes. Thus, if you’re working a nine-hour day, you should plan five to nine short breaks throughout the day.
Start by writing out all of the tasks and meetings you have to do daily, weekly, or monthly. Then schedule those in first, assigning each a specific amount of time. Then, once you have the regular tasks blocked out, make a list of one-off things you have to do in the next week. Schedule those in, including any non-recurring meetings. Finally, go in and block time for breaks.
12. Block websites that distract you
You’re working online so distractions are literally everywhere. One of the hard tasks is to avoid social media destruction while working from home. As you are less monetarized while working from home, you may spend more time on social media.
To avoid such a thing you can take several steps. If you’re going to check social media during the workday, set aside specific times to do so. You can close social media and internet browsing when you are working. Better yet, use a tool like Cold Turkey to completely block your access to social media sites during the time you’re supposed to be working. If you allow yourself scheduled time each day to do this you can focus more on getting your work done instead of wondering where that time went.
Where to Find Remote Work?
Whether you’re working for yourself or want to work remotely on behalf of another organization, the following websites can help connect you with remote work opportunities:
- We Work Remotely
- Remote OK
- The Muse
- Hubstaff Talent
Which Companies Hire Remote Employees?
It can be harder to find a company that wants you to work remotely all the time. Luckily, these companies do exist! Here are a few that might pique your interest:
- Fire Engine RED
Top 5 Remote Working Jobs You Can Choose
1. Graphic designer
Graphic designers create visual representations of ideas using computer applications or traditional artistic mediums. With graphic design, you use your expertise to create visual concepts that entice customers, effectively combining art and technology. They can work remotely to create layouts, logos, fonts, advertisements, and other design elements and make improvements based on client feedback.
People who enjoy being creative and working in a variety of styles and aesthetics are often well-suited for a career in graphic design. You could also take full control of your workload by joining the gig economy, giving you the utmost flexibility. If you have experience designing logos and T-shirts or using computer software to create brochures, advertisements, and book covers, you could make good money working from home.
Websites like Fiverr.com and 99designs.com can help you meet potential clients who need your services. How much you earn will depend on the scope of the project and your experience.
2. Freelance writer
Freelance writers create written content for clients based on both the needs of the client and the writer’s area of expertise. This can include technical, marketing, and creative writing. People who enjoy collaborating with others and have a skill for written communication should consider pursuing a remote freelance writing position.
If you have a computer, internet access, and the right credentials and/or experience, there are work-from-home opportunities for people with writing, editing, proofreading, and fact-checking skills. If you’re a good writer, you can apply to write for blogs, magazines, journals, and even newspapers that publish their content online. Bloggers, journalists, technical writers, and editors who know how to plan and present content and meet deadlines face a competitive market.
Freelance writing is one of those online jobs that pay well because there’s a big need for writers, as more and more companies aim to provide quality content to their audiences. Besides excellent writing skills, you’ll need a passion for the particular niche you’ll be working in, like tech or fashion, for instance.
3. Virtual Assistant
The traditional office assistant has gone digital. As a virtual assistant, you would lend a hand to an executive or entrepreneur, handling a range of computer-based daily tasks – like data entry, answering email, writing reports, and doing research – that keep the company moving forward.
Virtual assistants provide administrative, technical, and/or creative services for a wide range of industries such as health care, legal, government, and finance. You can own a virtual assistant business or work for a company that makes you available to clients.
The jobs are typically fast-paced, but the work itself is easy to understand in most cases. Because virtual assistants work in many different fields, the pay range is broad. Usually, you can get started with as little as a high school diploma, and start bringing in $15.72 per hour with your skills.
If you’ve ever wondered if there are online jobs for someone with basic skills, then becoming a virtual assistant (VA) might be a good option for you. The best thing about VA jobs is that you can work as little or as much as you want, which makes them ideal for busy people who may have limited availability because of other commitments.
4. Digital Marketer
A newer entry onto the best remote jobs list is a digital marketer. Companies often hire savvy individuals to keep their profiles and posts flowing, ensuring they can connect with (and market to) their audience.
Digital marketers work with email, social media, and web content to attract customers for their clients. They often manage a client’s entire web presence, including their website, search engine rankings, blog, and advertising strategy. This allows them to work remotely from any location as long as they have internet access.
Digital marketers learn scalable skills that they can apply to small businesses and large corporations, so creative and ambitious people have a high potential for growth in this profession. Along with designing and scheduling posts, they may respond to comments and DMs, as well as monitor trending hashtags to see if the company could benefit from connecting to them. If you’re a social media dynamo with some marketing chops, you may be able to get into this emerging field and could make $50,661 a year along the way.
It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to have a presence on social media. If you have a knack for using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you could work from home by helping businesses promote their brand and their products through social media marketing.
5. Data Entry Specialist
A data entry specialist sometimes called a data entry operator or clerk, inputs information from handwritten or physical records into a computer system. These records can be bills, reports, medical records, canceled checks, or other data.
Online data entry jobs require you to input alphabetic, numeric, or symbolic data into a system. It might not sound like tons of fun, but it’s an online job that can pay well! Plus, you can do the work whenever it suits your schedule. To excel in the role, consider bolstering your skills in computer programs like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word.
These are the five best jobs you can do while staying at home. If you are a student and want to earn besides your study, you can visit Work From Home Jobs for Students to find the best remote job for you. You can also find remote jobs from Lerip by using our job search tool.
Remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future. An exciting range of careers is now available for people of many experience levels who want to work remotely.
If after reading this guide you still feel remote work is right for you, awesome! Your next steps are to set yourself up for success and apply to remote jobs.
Then it won’t be long before you’re able to quit your traditional 9 to 5 office gig and begin the transition of working remotely as you’ve always wanted.