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Life as a remote worker: Is it for you?

Learn the ins and outs of life as a remote worker and the tools you’ll need to succeed
Dominic Tarn

/ Last updated on 30th October 2017

A remote island getaway of a house on a cliff

White collar, professional work, is changing. Offices are no longer needed. Many might think the typical remote worker is a millennial working in a startup, an entrepreneur or a freelancer. It turns out that jeans, hoody and flip flop wearing twenty-something stereotype would be wrong. According to the New York Times, the average remote worker is ‘a 49-year-old college graduate — man or woman — who earns about $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees,’ based on US census data.

Related: Can you build a startup in the paradise of Bali?

Remote work has been on the increase since the recession. At the same time so has self-employment and the growth of the global startup community. Hence the impression that most remote employees are recent graduates lounging around on beanbags being paid six figure salaries to write code. Like the idea that most startup founders have to be university dropouts, that is an outlier concept. So let’s take a quick look at what remote work is really like from an employers perspective.

1. Trust is Essential

Out of sight out of mind isn’t a truism which fits with remote work. If your out of sight team is always on your mind, then they aren’t the right people to work with. You need – as an employer or someone who’s hired remote contractors – to give them a task then get on with your own work. Not spend all the time worrying they’re doing their job.

2. Two Way Rapid Response

Some Founder-CEOs freely admit that they’re a bottleneck. The thing is, it’s all very well having remote workers you can trust to get the job done, but they need the same level of confidence in you. It’s a two-way street. Remote work doesn’t work when both parties are constantly chasing or stressing about the other.

3. Not a Good Job for the Lonely

Remote work can be very isolating. You might go the entire working day without speaking to colleagues or clients. Even working in incubators doesn’t always mean there’s a high level of interaction. It all depends on the place and people of course, but you can’t expect to work in a friendly office. Those who don’t cope well on their own won’t enjoy remote work.

4. Connectivity Tools Are Key

For the geographically diverse, having the right tools can make all the difference. A few tried and tested tools include Skype or Google Hangouts (for free calls), Basecamp (to do lists), iDoneThis (keeping teams on task – recommended by Buffer CEO, Joel Gascoigne), social media platforms (Buffer, Hootsuite) and handy apps, like Hello Sign, which takes away the need to print, sign and scan documents.

Keeping a few world clocks set to the time zones of your colleagues or clients is also useful – to avoid missing any meetings. Remote work suits the disciplined and natural self-starters. Those are exactly the kind of people who thrive in startups but hire carefully. They could make a big difference on your productivity or be a big headache.

Related: How to manage a to-do list for your business

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