Remote working is work done off-site, away from a company’s main location.
Remote working commonly relies on an internet connection, computer, and phone to perform tasks away from the office. People that work this way are often called remote workers, whether they are employees, contractors, entrepreneurs, or freelancers.
The frequency of remote working depends on the work arrangement chosen by the employer: permanent, partial, or situational. Some employees may rarely work on-site, while others may only work off-site a few days per month. Remote working is also used as a way to continue business during bad weather, natural disasters, and other unpredictable interruptions.
Related terms include: telecommuting, telework, virtual work, workshifting, hoteling, coworking, working from home
What people are saying about remote working
Sathnam Sanghera says:
“There was a time when remote working was synonymous with desperation and automatically triggered images of Del Boy flogging dodgy car stereos from a flat in Peckham. But things are different now. Employers offering flexible working options are considered enlightened…”
Eli White says:
“Remote work was the perfect solution. Not only does it VASTLY increase the pool of employees you can draw from. But it allows you to save costs, you need far less (if any) office space which always comes at a premium.”
Rieva Lesonsky says:
“The world of work has changed with the recession, and chances are you’ve already made some adjustments to your work force. As you ramp up for the recovery, you may want to use more flexible work options – part-timers, outsourcing and flextime – to get the most from your employees. Enabling remote work is a necessity for this to happen, so if it’s at all possible for your business, I strongly suggest you investigate the options.”
James Sinclair says:
“Remote or flex working is wholly dependent on the employee and their ability to work in a quasi-autonomous environment and use it to their advantage. If it is about working just enough to get by then it won’t work.”
Dr. John Sullivan says:
“While there are pockets of industrialization that attract a greater percentage of highly educated and trained professionals, the vast majority of talent remains dispersed around the world. If your organization forces only local talent to be considered, there is no way your organization can claim to be hiring only top talent.”
Jeff Atwood says:
“I picked developers who I knew — I had incontrovertible proof — were amazing programmers. I’m not saying they’re perfect, far from it, merely that they were top programmers by any metric you’d care to measure. That’s why they were able to work remotely… Don’t even think about working remotely with anyone who doesn’t freakin’ bleed ones and zeros, and has a proven track record of getting things done.”
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Types of remote working jobs
As a rule of thumb, if a job involves you sitting with a computer most of the day, that job is a good opportunity for remote working. Many jobs that might initially seem incompatible with remote working can still take advantage of the flexibility. In many cases, it’s just a matter of transforming processes into virtual ones. For instance, if legal review team needs to review documents on-site, the process can be virtualized by scanning in those documents and using an online review tool.
Sample remote working job descriptions:
- Data entry – transcribing data from one form to another; can involve reading spreadsheets, handwritten documents, or images and entering the data into a program or database.
- Virtual assistance – routine office tasks that can be performed online, often using email and phone.
- Document coding – a form of data entry; analyzing legal documents to capture requested information such as type of document, date, author, page numbering, etc.
- Medical transcription – transcribing health related documents audio recordings such as discharge summaries, admission summaries, operative reports, expiration reports, office visits, diagnostic studies, consultations, referral letters, etc.
- Customer care representative – Answering customer questions and concerns via phone or online chat.
- Online tutor – teaching educational lessons online through websites and video conferences.
- Editor/Proofreaders – editing digital copies of books, documents, or online content for better readability and grammar.
- Content developer / Blogger – writing material for blogs and business websites; often requires a knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization).
- Telemarketing – phone sales, cold calling, customer feedback calling, etc.
- Translators – translating text and audio from one language to another; requires solid knowledge of more than one language.
Remote working can fit into many career areas. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but to give you an idea, here are some more areas that employ remote workers:
- Software Development
- Web design
- Graphic design
- Mobile notarizing/signing
- Probate research
- Mystery shopping
- Social work or nursing
- Case management
- Insurance or mortgage appraising
- Real estate
- Legal work
- Sewing or piecework
- Craft work
Companies that offer remote working jobs
Thousands of companies, both small businesses and large corporations, take advantage of remote working. Here are five great examples:
- IBM - IBM makes and sells computer hardware and software, but it also offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services services in areas such as mainframe computers and nanotechnology. Starting in 2009, IBM transitioned about 20% of its employees to a remote working arrangement. As of 2011, Fortune magazine ranked IBM as the 18th largest firm in the US and the 7th most profitable.
- VIPdesk - Founded in 1997, VIPdesk offers a variety of virtual support services to small and large companies: concierge and loyalty programs, customer care, experiential solutions, and social media support services. Clients range from Eddie Bauer to JPMorganChase. Employees provide their own equipment, such as computers, monitors, phones, and paper shredders. VIPdesk hires people from the United States, with the exception of the following states: DC, ID, MT, ND, RI and WY.
- Forrester – Forrester Research, Inc. is an independent research company focused on business and technology information with 27 sales locations worldwide. Beyond market research, Forrester offers its clients advisory services, events, workshops, teleconferences, and executive peer-networking programs.
- UnitedHealth Group - UnitedHealth Group is a health care service provider with over 75 million customers. Their goal is to “help people live healthier lives.” It works to provide innovative health care payment solutions to its customers as well as the knowledge to make informed decisions. Its success relies heavily on an emphasis in information technology to improve health care.
- University of Phoenix – Since 1976, the University of Phoenix has focused on providing education to working adults. It offers both online and on-campus degree programs with flexible schedules. The University of Phoenix is an accredited university, staffed by faculty that work in the fields that they teach in.
10 potential disadvantages of remote working
- Technical problems get in the way
- No reason to dress up
- Time zone conflicts
- Work-family conflict
- Jealous coworkers
- Security concerns
- Additional infrastructure
- Lack of supervision
- No free office food
11 benefits of remote working
- Helps the environment
- Traffic reduction
- Closer proximity to family and extended family
- Decreased absenteeism
- Increased productivity
- Less “job hopping”
- More staff, less office
- Fewer interruptions
- Flexible scheduling
- Overhead reductions
- Business continuity
How to find remote work jobs
There are two ways to start working remotely:
- Transform your current job into a remote work position.
- Go hunting for a remote work job.
Depending on your manager, transforming your current job into a remote work position may or may not be easy. But if you love the job you have now, it’s worth it to give it a try. Lea and Jonathan Woodward of Location Independent, have this to say about proposing remote working to your employer:
Rather than ask for the full whammy (100% remote working) right from the get-go, start slowly and suggest 1 day a week. If this is too much, suggest half a day – perhaps one morning or afternoon – as a trial run. Expect a knock-back – even a firm “no”. Don’t be deterred, it’s worth asking again.
Bringing remote working up to your current boss can definitely be worth the effort. So go ahead, propose remote working, and don’t give up!
The alternative is to start searching for jobs that are already set up as remote work jobs, but many remote working job sites are riddled with ads and cluttered interfaces. Some will even charge job seekers to use their sites. Or you can use the large job sites, and read through all of the false positives. Remote working jobs can be hard to find, but Telesaur is changing that.
Video demo: Finding remote work jobs with Telesaur:
Telesaur is a remote work job site and it prides itself in a clean design and fun features like automated tagging and saved searches. Sign up for free and find your own remote work job! And once you’ve found the right opportunity, here’s what to ask during your interview.