By Amour Setter
Remote work is the way of the future and it's time to prepare yourself for the revolution. In the USA alone 3.3 million full-time professionals, excluding volunteers and the self-employed, consider their home as their primary place of work. In this blog, I'll share ways you can prepare yourself for this exciting work and I'll also share some websites where you can find remote work.
Working remotely has many advantages. No commuting, no queueing for trains/trams/buses, no hour-long dressing sessions, no packed lunches and no having to face colleagues that annoy the crap out of you. However, there are some drawbacks as well, including long working hours (54% of remote workers work more than 40 hours per week) and the challenge of creating a work/life balance. But the advantages outweigh the drawbacks and if you're dedicated and possess self-discipline you can easily become a Remote Worker.
Many Digital Nomads start off as Remote Workers. Realizing how flexible the nature of the work is, traveling often becomes a very attractive option when it becomes clear that you do not have to be in one set location in order to do your job. More and more companies are hiring Remote Workers for:
1. Increased productivity
2. Improved employee efficiency
3. Reduced employee turnover
4. Lower company overheads
But how do you prepare for Remote Work? Can anyone become a Remote Worker and where in the hell do you even start finding remote work? Remote work is not suited to everyone. People who need constant supervision, for example, won't do well working remotely. If you don't have self-discipline to stick to your daily work schedule, then remote working may not be for you either. But for those well suited to this type of work, it may be a dream come true. Remote work gives you a great deal of freedom since you can travel and basically work from anywhere your heart desires.
Let's look at some of the skills and habits you need to develop in order to become a Remote Worker.
1. Become Tech-savvy
Unless you are tech-savvy you will struggle to find remote work since your work will all be done digitally. You need to know how to use digital tools, solve a few tech problems and be able to talk a bit of tech language. It doesn't mean that you have to learn how to code, but you do need to know your way around the digital environment. It also helps to have some experience with software tools.
2. Become a whizz at research
Granted, not all remote jobs include researching, but being a good researcher means you can find information quickly and translate that into something tangible. It makes sense to get into the habit of researching everything because the more information you have at your disposal, the more prepared you will be for anything. That includes researching the company you're applying at for a remote job and the position being advertised. Google must become your best friend.
3. Brush up your writing skills
Being able to present information well is key to not only selling yourself but putting forward your ideas successfully. You don't have to be a professional writer, but you do need to be able to articulate yourself well. A good writer has many opportunities available: content creation, copywriting, professional blogging, editing, technical writing, etc.
4. Become familiar with remote team tools
Since working remotely will involve team engagement, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the tools used by remote teams. Skype, Uberconference, Google Hangouts, JoinMe, AnyMeeting, etc are some conference tools used by teams for remote meetings. Google tools within Gmail is also very popular for remote teams, allowing everyone access to important information and file sharing.
5. Know and understand social media
Since companies nurture and build brands across social media, it pays you to understand how social media works. And I don't mean understanding how to post stuff to Twitter or Facebook! You need to understand how companies leverage off social media to grow their brands, how they measure the success of their campaigns and how they roll-out their social media strategies. Knowing which platforms yield the best results will put you at an advantage.
6. Understand basic SEO
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO is a very complicated subject and you don't need to be an expert in this area in order to work remotely. But understanding the basics helps you become well-rounded in the digital environment. Understanding and finding terms and phrases (keywords) that generate traffic to a website, making a site friendly to search engines, building links and marketing the unique value of a site all form part of SEO. The more you understand, the stronger you will be as a team player.
7. Having some graphic design skills also helps
You don't have to be a Graphic Designer to find remote work, although there are tons of jobs available if that is your specialty. But being able to design a report, an e-book or professional looking presentation will put you in a better position. Google tools has some great templates and if you're a Mac user, try The Print Shop and Pages for professional-looking presentation documents. There are a ton of applications out there that you can use so find one that works for you and start playing around with designs. Being a good designer (even if it's not your primary profession) can open up some more opportunities in your job, especially if you land a job with a startup since many of these jobs require you to wear a few different hats.
8. Take your performance seriously
If you've had (or still have) a regular job you'll know that you have to be accountable for your performance. Remote work is no different. There will be weekly reports to submit that measure your performance, progress and achieved targets. Companies measure your performance in the form of KPI's (Key Performance Indicators). Weekly team meetings are usually held where executives will go over the reports and give feedback on your performance.
9. Develop good working habits
Working remotely means you can work from anywhere provided you have good internet access. That means you can work in bed if you wish, but I would advise getting into a professional space by working from a proper desk with a chair that offers good back support. Working from home actually has less distractions than working at an office but you have to minimize those distractions. That means closing all windows on your computer that have nothing to do with work such as Facebook, Youtube, etc. Unless your team communicates via apps like Whatsapp or Skype, it also makes sense to shut those down or mute them completely during your working day. You want to be 100% focused. Unless your online presence is monitored (for positions like Sales, Account Management, Customer Support, etc) you can pretty much work whenever you like provided you deliver on time. Some people work better at night, some early in the morning. Either way, it makes sense to get into a solid work routine.
10. Create a work/life balance
Working remotely can completely absorb your energies since more than 50% of remote workers actually work more than 40 hours per week. Trying to balance work and personal life can be a struggle. (This has always been my greatest challenge as a Remote Worker). Employers know and understand that they end up getting more productivity from remote workers and they often take advantage of this. When entering into a contract with an Employer be sure to go through the paperwork carefully and try to specify your working hours if you can. If your contract is open-ended in terms of the number of hours you are expected to work, you are screwed because you may end up working extra hours for zero compensation. And before you know it your remote job can completely take over your life. So prepare yourself and get clear with the terms of your contract.
11. Put a kick-ass resume together
What makes you stand out from other candidates applying for the same job? Don't be shy to include things outside of your job skills set. If you've traveled to 25 countries, add that to your resume. If you built something spectacular or won a competition for a skill (like figure-skating or dancing) add that too. These things all tell a prospective employer that you have self-discipline and are motived to achieve.
12. Apply like your life depends on it (which it does!)
You may be lucky. You may apply for 3 jobs and land one, but that is unlikely. The reality is more like 200 - 300 job applications. Make each application cover letter specific to the job and avoid the "corporate" approach of stating your skills and saying you are qualified. A cover letter that is punchy and makes you stand out from the crowd is what will get you the interview. Confidence always wins, so make sure you come across as confident but not arrogant. A creative one-liner about why you're the best candidate for the job can make the difference between being overlooked and landing an interview!
Here are 15 remote job sites you can check out:
Good luck and remember to have fun along the way!
This post was originally published here.