Remote Working: What's Really In It For You?
December 10, 2020
Many businesses and their employees have been plunged into the teleworking paradigm because of the recent virus pandemic; and things have not been the same since. In fact, even before the pandemic, the freelance-remote working archetype had become so widespread, that the U.S. designated August 16 as National Independent Worker Day. How's that for progress!
And by the way, on a personal note, my main motivation for working remote is that I've always preferred working independently. Don't get me wrong, I've worked intermittently for various companies within their 4-walls. However, I've always been a self-starter with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Even so, I'm just as committed to my tasks as any in-office employee. And I'm sure there are many other freelance remote-workers with the same outlook.
On the other hand, I'm not against anyone working under a company's authority. Nonetheless, it dawned on me that as long as I remained in such an arrangement, I would be told when to come to work, when to leave, how much money I could make, when I could take vacation, and so on. And even though it's hard work and takes lots of self-discipline, I enjoy the liberties that come along with freelancing and working remotely.
Below are my thoughts about the present day remote work surge:
You're the Boss
Getting accustomed to the new work-from-home paradigm will take some time. This is primarily because the old ways of thinking about work has changed. We're inadvertently becoming "our own boss." If you're used to being told what to do and when and how to do it, you had better get used to the new work-matrix if you want to put food on your table.
You see, the word "employee" is becoming outdated, even insulting. "Oooh...you're an employee? But why?" The increase of independent- contractors participating in the gig economy and offering their services to the highest bidder is becoming the "new normal." Just think. Seeing that companies today have a global pool of workers, we as freelancers i.e. remote workers i.e. telecommuters have a pool of companies to choose from as well. Don't forget that nowadays, it's not only companies that are in the driver's seat!
In fact, many people in the workforce today squirm at the idea of "working for one company for life" I mean, ew who does that anymore.
If you don't get-with-the-program you may very well find yourself without sufficient income. Even if going entirely freelance is not possible at the moment, at least make checking side-gigs one of your squad-goals. What are "squad-goals" you might ask? Well, if you haven't noticed, language has taken a turn - depending on your age group - for better or for worse. The term is simply slang for "something you'd like to do one day or a statement of approval."
By offering your services to various companies for a fee, not only will you feel more like your own boss - you WILL BE your own boss - and in a better position to call the shots.
For now, more than likely with the onset of the 2020 pandemic, you will be working for a company as an employee in your own home while fantasizing about jumping-ship and going on your own. It's a bold move, but if you have the guts to do it, go for it! Just don't give up the job that pays the bills...yet!
Work Technology and Non-Tradition
Technology has thrown both employees and companies into panic mode as traditional work arrangements are gradually disappearing. In fact, before the telecommuting avalanche, most individuals remained hopeful that conventional work structures would continue. To be honest, prior to working remotely, most workers barely paid attention to their computer's downstream bandwidth, how many megabytes they receive per second, RAM, what telecommunication app to use, or the advantages of having a laptop-hybrid device i.e. convertible laptop before having to work steadily from home. Now, knowing these things about your computer is mandatory.
Of course a steady salary, bonuses, healthcare, vacation time and more have their allurements. Yet, standard work packages are no longer guaranteed and people are having to re-invent themselves. As a consequence, the meaning of the word "work" has been dramatically transformed. Actually, it's virtually undefinable. Having been a freelancer for a number of years, I saw this change coming a looong time ago.
According to the site FastCompany.com "the virus pandemic is going to expose more people to working remotely than ever. Companies that don’t allow remote work already are going to have to continue supporting it going forward, now that they have proven to themselves that it works." I concur!
In addition, computerization has opened doors to a multitude of advancements for individuals like yourself and businesses. However, it's going to take some getting used to. "Many of those who worked from home before the boom in telecommuting had no official agreement to do so. They simply took work home at night or over the weekend. "Only 20% said they were occasionally paid to work from home, and just 12% worked from home at least one full day per month," says Brookings.edu in the article Telecommuting Will Likely Continue Long After the Pandemic.
What the Statistics Reveal
Forbes.com reveals that "in 2019, millennials made up 38% of the full-time independent workforce, up from 37% in the previous year. While Baby Boomers fell from 35% to 33%." So there's an entirely new mindset taking over the employment arena.
-According to the Owllabs yearly global remote work report, "56% of global companies allow remote work." They also state that most of these companies are hybrid companies or fully remote.
-52% of workers globally work remotely at least once a week and 68% work from home at least once per-month.
-Worldwide men are 8% more likely to work from home than women.
-Before the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. there were 7 million telecommuters with 43% of the population working remotely intermittently according to recent studies. In the past 5 years those numbers have increased by 44%.
-Based on recent reports, the combined income of U.S. freelancers in the gig economy is roughly $1 trillion. That's quite impressive!
Remote Work Pluses and Minuses
Minuses-working when you're not the boss
Probably the greatest telecommuting hurdle to tackle is getting used to the isolation, especially if you're a more extrovert type person. On the other hand, you could try co-working - a shared space specifically used by a small group of workers from various companies to share ideas - or, a shared common office, where people work separately without any affiliation. This is of course if working alone makes you a bit, well, loony.
Finding the best remote workspace in your home might prove difficult, especially if you live with other people. Let's face it, working in the kitchen, or engaging in live chat in your bathroom - because it's the quietest room in the house - may be somewhat unpleasant. Regardless, you-gotta-do-what-you-gotta-do until you figure it all out.
Equipment and Software
Will your laptop with 4GB - check out the article How Much RAM Do I Need - be able to handle tasks sufficiently or any additional software you'll need to download? Forking over additional funds to get your equipment up to speed may be required. Nevertheless, if you're an employee transitioning from working- in-office to working-from-home, don't be shy about asking your employer to take care of some or all of your equipment expenses. Bringing home the laptop you used in the office might be another option.
If you think remote working for your employer will make it easier for you to browse the comment section of your favorite website, you're sadly mistaken. You may be required to download specific software - known in some telecommuting circles as "spyware" - to clock your every move in order to make sure you're actually "on the job."
It's Not About How You Feel
Working for your employer from home is not about "working whenever you feel like it." No matter what you've read on various work-from-home blogs. Ergo, you will be expected to work on an agreed timetable, which will probably be 9 - 5, just like in the office.
Pluses-working remotely when you're the boss
Mavericks Stand Up
If you are an individualist or loner, remote working will be your utopia. Especially if you're a germaphobe, and you always felt queasy about everybody touching the office fridge door handle, the microwave never being cleaned properly, and sharing one bathroom with four different floors in the office building; telecommuting is your calling.
Being comfortable with your "aloneness" doesn't necessarily mean that you're an uncongenial snob. The difference is that NOW you have the privilege of NOT being forced to deal with individuals - in your work environment - that you'd rather avoid anyway.
Working-from-home can be a great motivator, once you get the hang of it. Ideas suddenly pop into your head and you realize "hey, I'm pretty good at this stuff, I could be my own boss" and you begin to think like one. As if by magic, you realize that there is a broad range of global employers - I'd rather use the word "clients" - who are probably better suited for your skill set and will pay you what you think you deserve or at least close to it.