Remote work sounds possible, feels unfamiliar to many, and has a lot of hype. There are varying ways to be part of the remote work ecosystem, and whether you choose to do it in your situated city or opt to get up and relocate, it can work.
Over the past five years, remote work or being a “digital nomad” has gone from a possible way to conduct business to a viable—sometimes only—way of ensuring employment.
We like the definition that MBO Partners, a leader in providing management services for independent professionals, has for digital nomads where they are “a population of independent workers who choose to embrace a location-independent, technology-enabled lifestyle that allows them to travel and work remotely, anywhere in the world.”
The firm conducted its own research and found that “4.8 million independent workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads, and many more, 17 million, aspire to someday become nomadic.”
Additional findings suggest creative professionals dominate the remote space but IT and marketing professionals are also strong participants. Approximately one in six digital nomads earns more than $75,000 annually. However, over a third (38 percent) reported earning less than $10,000 per year. One-third are female, and 54 percent are over the age of 38. Also, many retirees decide to “unretire” and start working remotely, the firm notes.
There are a growing number of companies entering this space. People are curious and need to know how to make it work for them (hoping that it can actually work for them). There are enough “These are the reasons why you should work remote” plug pieces, but really, what is the best route to go? Who is the best outlet to trust? How do you relay this to your family, spouse or your mom without those disconcerting eyes shaking you up? You know the look.
We asked Iwo Szapar, co-founder and CEO of Remote-how, a company helping a pool of 20,000 remote professionals navigate the remote movement. The organization currently has 11 team members, three advisors and 42 “subject matter experts” that they work with on a regular basis. Think of it as a connective platform for seekers and employers that are helping train managers, while also sharing the knowledge they’ve tapped from experts at top remote companies like Buffer.
“As a new brand back in 2017, we had zero credibility and we wanted to push the agenda to change how we used to work, which adds another layer of complexity for a young startup,” Szapar tells Sidewalk Hustle. “Our strategy here was simple: start working with well-known partners and this will help you become more trustworthy. Easier said than done but we made this happen thanks to partnerships with over 120 companies from all over the world including Asana and Buffer.”
Szapar says take a test drive to see if remote work is for you. Ask your boss for one day a month or a week of remote work, he suggests.
“See if it is as good as you think because remote work is not for everyone,” says Szapar. “If you are in between jobs now, join one of the freelance marketplaces like Upwork and work on a few gigs to see how it goes in practice. Remote work can be rewarding in a group as well as when you are solo but you need to find the answer yourself.”
Last year, Remote-how organized a giveaway where four people won a one month trip to work remotely in Bali. All costs were covered including flights, accommodation and coworking setup, says Szapar. Four winners took part, each from either Poland, Egypt, United States or the Philippines. A fun way to test drive, right?
Remote-how has raised over USD$400,000. It also offers an education and certification program to hone future success leaders.
Another name in this space is Remote Year, which offers 4-month, 6-month and 12-month programs in regions including Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Itineraries in specific cities like Lisbon, Valencia, Cape Town, Lima and Kyoto are also offered. The company was founded by George Caplan and Sam Pessin in 2015, and since then over 2,000 people have taken part, according to Remote Year. Programs cost USD$2,000 a month, plus a down payment.
Then there are opportunities like Tulsa Remote. Those willing to relocate to Tulsa within six months that are currently in full-time remote employment (or self-employed outside of Oklahoma) can do so and receive USD$10,000. They also get a free desk space, perks and community support. Tulsa Remote is currently looking for 250 more remote workers in 2020. (You must be eligible to work in the United States.)
Szapar says Nomadlist is another resourceful platform worth the look.
“When we started it was all about the freedom of choice on where, when and how you work, and our main care was to enable everyone to have this freedom, while also helping companies adapt to this new model of work,” says Szapar. “Right now organizations are the main blocker to push this revolution forward, especially on the leadership side. People are ready and want to work this way. If companies want to stand out and tackle their talent shortage challenges, this is the most effective way to go.”
Szapar adds that “talent is distributed equally but opportunities are not, yet,” and Remote-how is working towards changing that.
Remote-how also organizes the Remote Future Summit, which is now going into its third year. Over 8,000 people from 128 countries have joined the last two editions, Szapar tells us. And more details around Remote Future Summit 2020 will be released later this year.
“There is no doubt that this is the biggest change in how we work since the industrial revolution; this is the moment when we started going to the ‘office’ every day, even it was a factory. We won’t escape from shifting towards the outcome of our work instead of the fact that we are present from 9 to 5 at the office,” he asserts.
How one is paid is also evolving. As noted by Lisa Sterling, chief people and culture officer at Ceridian, “Modern employees should accept that the traditional pay period may soon be a thing of the past, with employees wanting more innovative and immediate ways to receive their earned wages.”
Remote work has flexibility, however, there are certain requirements to consider, one being Wi-Fi and the pain of spotty connections. If people are afraid they can’t work because of shoddy signals, the process quickly moves to a panic.
Cost of living also remains a top concern with remote work—people need to see that they can actually sustain themselves. Also, the coworking setup and how the arrangement is handled becomes paramount in ensuring professionals get the best chance to succeed. People talk.
Venturing abroad to different countries is a good move for some, while others are drawn to specific cities that already have a base of remote workers.
As CEO World reports, Paris is said to be the best city for remote workers to freelance in during 2020. London (UK) ranks second. Montreal ranks eighth, just behind New York, and Calgary (13th), Toronto (16th) and Ottawa (17th) all rank within the top 20 of best remote cities to freelance in for 2020. The report cited was taken from AppJobs. Findings were analyzed using metrics from TripAdvisor, Numbeo, Indeed and Wiman.
Featured photo courtesy of Remote-how