There are countless ways to work remotely, but the best way is different for everyone. Identifying the way that suits you is essential for maintaining pride, productivity and progression along your employment path.
The ideal remote way of working will satisfy your personality type, and meet your personal and professional wants and needs. However, what’s “right” for you may look different at different stages of your life - freelancing might work best when you’re entering the remote market, but when life’s responsibilities start to dominate, then a full time role with an organisation might be a better fit.
We have outlined the main ways to work remotely below, complete with their perks and pitfalls.
Corporate / large organisation
The structure, stability, resourcing and defined career path large organisations provide attract a lot of employees. A company’s culture and conscience is also part of their appeal, especially as ESG begins to dominate the narrative surrounding corporate entities. Those who enjoy being part of a team, having targets, goals and performance benchmarks, rigour around their work, and routine around their schedule are well suited to working in this environment.
In the context of remote jobs, this security, plus culture and flexibility, as well as the perks offered by companies of that scale, can be the golden egg of employment. However, there can often be a disconnect. One of the drawbacks of being part of a big corporate structure is the lack of agency employees have, where their time and tasks are dictated to them, and benefits like unlimited holidays are such in name only.
It remains to be seen how hybrid workplaces will perform in practice now that an in-person return is imminent. Some governments are introducing legislation to regulate remote working, but time will tell who these favour most. Want to go remote but unsure how to navigate the conversation with your boss? Here’s how to do it.
Start-up / SME
Working with start-ups and SMEs suits people who are less hierarchically-focused and more laterally-driven. If you get into one of these companies early, you have the opportunity to be a part of the company’s direction and story, build deeper relationships with the core team, and have a direct connection to founders and directors as opposed to managers.
Start-ups in particular are more remote-friendly, with many companies adopting a remote-first approach. The scale of these organisations often favours the lower overheads of having employees work remotely. Similarly, the smaller scale allows them to work in a more asynchronous manner, which naturally aligns itself with remote working, especially across time zones.
Small business owner
Running your own business is not for the faint hearted. Successful small business owners have an entrepreneurial spirit and are comfortable taking risks. Being the captain of your own ship may seem liberating and empowering, but the stress of managing everything alone can take its toll, as the buck always stops with you. Identifying the appropriate support systems is key - this ranges from staffing to book keeping to marketing.
The pandemic has been a whirlwind for business owners with a physical presence. From staff getting Covid to being forced to lock down with every new wave, small businesses across every sector have been hit hard. According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, from February to April 2020, there was a 3.3 million decrease in the number of active business owners in the U.S.
However, digital native businesses were the most adept at weathering the storm. A survey by Cisco reports that 72% of small businesses across the eight markets surveyed are leaning into digital as a response to Covid challenges. This has increased the appeal of the digital nomad lifestyle. Sheelin Conlon, owner of sustainable lifestyle store The Kind, says, “Having juggled a physical and ecommerce store for two years, I decided it was time to move my business entirely online so that I could have more freedom and be able to work remotely from anywhere.”
Freelance / contract
Freelancing or contract work is perhaps one of the easiest ways to begin working remotely. Those wanting to dip their toe into the world of remote work may start to take on smaller projects as a side hustle. This can progress into meatier work, and freelancers often develop a diverse portfolio of experience.
Interestingly, the market for freelancers is thriving, as hybrid models bring together a mix of on-site, remote and contract talent. According to a report by Upwork, 58% of professionals who are not currently freelancing said they were considering doing so in the future, while 36.1% of hiring managers say they plan to increase their reliance on independent talent.
This way of working, however, is significantly less secure, stable and reliable than being an employee. It requires a high degree of autonomy, independence and resilience. While choosing which clients you work with on what projects, and having the freedom to execute them whenever, however and from wherever you want is an attractive proposition, freelancers need to be self-starters, disciplined and organised. Freelancing relies heavily on networking and reputation, so reliability and professionalism are imperative to a successful freelance career.