Remote work is constantly advertised in job ads as a top benefit you get from your next employer.
It’s more than just a simple benefit along many others though.
It’s a way of life after all.
What does remote work really mean?
Remote work is, first and foremost, a way of work and also a way of life we willingly opt for. It refers to the ability of a person to work from a different location or timezone than that of the other team members. At all times. Not just a couple of days/week. It’s by no means just one benefit, but rather a series of advantages (of course, along with its downsides) you get to bring into your life by going for this kind of work method.
If you’re looking for real remote work benefits that result from this choice, here’s a Twitter post that details the perks of working remotely in their truest sense:
But overall, remote work gives more opportunities. Or, as this tweet puts it:
It truly allows people to dream of a better job, no matter where they are or what their responsibilities and ties to a certain location are.
Mental health, disabilities or health issues, remote locations, commitments to your family or friends. These are all factors that are vital to consider when picking a workplace. I mean you’re going to spend most of your time there so it’s just like choosing your house or a life partner. It needs to match you. And remote work is indeed a solution for all these issues or needs you might have.
Unfortunately, for all these people, a remote job remains difficult to get. Companies who accept to work with remote employees (either full teams or just a few members who work from separate locations) are still few compared to the total number of existing jobs.
There’s no shortage of jobs. But there are definitely not as many options out there when it comes to entry and mid-level remote job positions.
There are 2 main types of companies who’re looking for their employees to work remotely:
- The startup
- The all-remote (that’s our key work policy) company
Smaller startups or agencies are the only ones willing to hire entry-level employees. But even so, most of these remote work opportunities remain internships or non-paid positions. At least until the startup starts to take off.
Meanwhile, startups that are already gaining traction as well as all-remote companies almost always seek senior team members. In theory, they’re supposed to bring more experience and skills into the company and thus help with the growth of their business without requiring too much investment in their training.
So most jobs wherever remain dedicated to senior workers with 5+ or even 10+ years of experience in a certain field or role:
This leaves you with roughly 5 years you’ll likely be spending at a regular office job. How are you going to get a job that asks for both 5+ years of experience and remote work familiarity? No idea.
Your best bet is to go on Angel.co and search for part-time or side projects. Some of the startups there also look for freelancer work so that should give you a boost towards working remotely while you’re still at your in-office workplace.
Having it all when working remotely
Many non-remote workers expect working remotely to be the solution to all of their problems.
“I’ll have more free time!”
“I don’t have to work overtime!”
“I can take a break whenever I want to!”
All these are false statements.
No, you won’t always have more free time. When you work from your home in particular, it’s so hard to disconnect yourself from work. At my past in-office job I would just go home and forget all about work. I NEVER, NEVER did anything work-related.
Now, I always check and answer emails, write down ideas, even do small tasks. But that’s because I WANT TO DO THAT. It’s just how our brains work. Similar to preparing for an exam in an environment similar to the one where you’ll be taking it, once you start working in one type of setting, it’s hard to set a boundary between your office and family (or dog, whoever you live with).
Quick note: Every single policy, rule, expectation, or perk depends ENTIRELY on the company you work for. As observed by this report, 39% small business employees work longer hours. At the same time though, 9% of respondents from the same category put in fewer hours than regular office jobs.
And this is exactly why so many remote employees pay just to take advantage of a co-working space. For one desk space, people can spend anywhere from 195$ to 274$ each month.
Truth is, any way of life you choose is about prioritizing one benefit over the other. If you’re into going outside each day to see how the city changes with the seasons or interacting with your colleagues face-to-face, remote work will be a horrendous experience for you.
If you hate wasting hours of life on commute (raises hand ✋ ) or need the most quiet of environments to put your ideas together and get work done ( ✋ ), then remote work is indeed going to be all roses and more roses for you.
This is exactly WHY remote work IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Now, I am a remote work advocate too. And we tend to overidealize this way of life, but to set all matters straight, no matter how much we glorify remote work, it doesn’t mean it will work for you too.
But few people will ever advise you to think carefully and analyze whether this life path is the right one for you.
A quick search on Google for a related keyword [remote work, working remotely, remote jobs, remote workers] and you’ll see that most results come from companies or individuals who are affiliated to a brand:
So who’s going to tell you not to apply for that remote job when it can cost as much as $299 for employers to post a job ad?
The reality of remote work
The ideal scenario that people have when going into remote work is getting to create their own schedule, travel the world, and have more time for their hobbies and families. Work whenever and wherever you want.
Fun fact: 31% of employees consider work flexibility as a top requirement when choosing a new job.
In the real work life though, you’re required to work within a certain timezone, be available at specific hours, stick to the schedule of the other in-office employees, or even be a citizen of a particular country. Check a bunch of remote job ads right now and you’ll see something similar as a requirement.
A few examples of such remote job advertisements:
Companies remain reserved when it comes to switching to a remote-friendly work policy even if it can help solve serious workforce issues at a national level even:
Because, again, it’s definitely not a lifestyle for everyone.
The current state of work is regrettably still stuck in the “9-to-5 is the way to go” belief. When you’ve got workers in office, keeping to their timesheets, it’s much too easy to supervise them and ensure they put in enough work to bring you profit.
Remote work also gives employees something we all long for: freedom. The choice to work however we want to, whenever and wherever. And companies are scared of autonomous employees. That’s another reason why the few companies that look for remote workers almost always want them to a have lots of experience and experience with organizing and prioritizing whatever daily tasks, changes, and urgent matters could arise. This way being, so to say, more dependable.
So what are employers who don’t want their team to be remote do instead?
Shower you with employee benefits you don’t care about:
- Modern office in central location
- Covered commute expenses
- Full health insurance coverage
- Free gym membership
- Maternity and paternity leave (often paid)
- Paid cell phone or work equipment
- Competitive salary
- Regular pay raises
- Retirement plan
- Extra sick leave days
- Vacation leave
We don’t care about your open-space office where you can’t even breathe or choke on a cookie freely. We don’t need you to pay for our transportation if you’re not going to give us back the 2 hours we waste on commute.
And, yes, we’ll need the insurance considering you’re overworking us and keeping your team in a germ box. But really? Gym? Who has enough energy left at the end of the day to put in a few hours at the gym?
As for the other perks… well, you get them with remote work too.
There’s also the ridiculous benefits anyone who’s gone through a few months of looking for the right job encountered at some point. “We give all employees 2 days to work from home each month, in case you’re expecting a package delivery.” “Our schedule is flexible. You can come to work any time between 8 and 10am.” “We have lots of office snacks. Mainly carbs and sugary drinks. Nothing vegan.” “15 paid vacation days. Perfect for you to take some time away once a year and be our slave during the rest of your days.” 🤦♀️🤦♂️
And my personal favorite: “We offer lots of career growth opportunities at the end of your internship.” a.k.a. “You’ll move on to an entry-level job and do everything your manager tells you. We’ll also pay you just so you can survive but not enough for you to get away from us.”
For some real perks that office workers really enjoy, check out this Reddit thread. Not all
enterprises companies are bad. Some workers actually get a flexible schedule option, lots of free days to unwind, free flights, and office puppies.
So in the end, recruitment only relies on getting the right people for the lifestyle the employer offers.
- Office work for those who love being surrounded by people and sticking to the same daily routine while also not having other commitments and issues to attend to.
- Remote work for people who hate the traditional office and everything it implies while also wanting to use the extra time to work on their well-being.
Whether you opt for an office or remote position, pay attention to a couple of the following flags that should keep you away from that workplace as noticed by Redditors:
[As long as you’re not desperate to get a new job because you can’t afford rent and food. In this case, you’ll honestly just have to take it for a while until a better opportunity appears. In case you ever wondered, this is exactly why people change their jobs so often: they take a job because they’re desperate either for money or for experience in the case of fresh graduates.]
Fortunately, 43% of employers plan to offer more remote working opportunities in the future. Even state workers are seeing success from telecommuting. Office workers are not forgotten either. For instance, countries such as Germany, Denmark, or Norway are considerably reducing their annual hours worked for the good of their workers and increased productivity at an organizational level.
And since most of us are not doing the mechanical, repetitive work our grandparents put in in factories and construction sites, people are starting to notice the fault in regular jobs where you’re constricted to a chair and a set of rules. Whether it’s that feeling of being drained after work or just getting sick of waking up at the same time every day.
Some would call these needs pretentious. But it’s only human to want the best possible conditions for your own self. We now have more freedom to create our own ways of work and direct our most productive hours towards our top goals. Maybe you have a genius idea for a new product but you’re stuck doing data entry at work. Or you’d rather focus on your well-being and take a break every 2 hours, but, wait, you have a meeting.
What’s your take on remote work?
Whether you’re already working remotely or just reading this to clarify your idea of remote work in case you’re considering it for the future, feel free to share your thoughts below.
Do you think remote work defines a person once they start this endeavor or does it seem just like office work since you still have the usual regulations to stick to?
90% of people who work remotely would not go back to a typical job setting. The same Buffer report that concluded this also found the following:
To say that 99% of people would like to try remote work in the future is realistic, but we need to look beyond this number. 99% won’t actually pursue the remote way of life.
I encourage you to talk to your peers around this topic. Personally, I haven’t yet found someone to confidently state that remote work was the right life for them. Most idealize the concept but claim they wouldn’t be able to do it for various reasons: can’t concentrate, need people to talk to, would prefer someone else to organize their work, etc.
Until next time, share your thoughts 🧠🤯