It’s raining buckets outside, the roads are getting flooded and vehicles are crawling at snail’s pace. It will take you hours to get to work and you’ll be wet and miserable all day. To add to your woes, your maid has decided to take the day off and your child is home with the flu!
These are the days when you wish your workplace allowed you to work from home.
But this is no longer just wishful thinking.
More and more companies are embracing remote work (or telecommuting) as a means to reduce overheads, increase productivity, reduce turnover and get access to a wider pool of talent.
The latest advances in cloud computing and the proliferation of remote collaboration and communication tools have enabled this shift to flexible, work-from-home opportunities.
This article looks at the pros and cons of working remotely. It also provides tips on how to get started with remote work and explores various opportunities for women working remotely in India.
5 Pros of Remote Working
1. You Control Your Day
Perhaps the biggest benefit of remote work is that it allows you the flexibility to schedule your workday around the other responsibilities in your life.
Does your child come back home for lunch? Do you need to run to the tailor who will close before 5pm? Do you want to take up guitar lessons or start a gym routine?
Everyone talks about work-life balance but few are able to achieve it. Remote work allows you to schedule time for all the non-work activities that are important to you.
As long as you deliver results and stick to deadlines, you can decide when to work and how much to work.
With remote work, you also cut down on the cost and time of commuting to work. Instead of sitting in traffic for hours, you can now utilise that time to catch up on house work or run errands you would otherwise not have time for.
2. Work from Anywhere
Prefer to work in solitude? You could work right from the comfort of your home (and sometimes, even in your pajamas!).
Too many distractions at home? Find a nearby library, or even your favourite coffee shop to work from.
Going on a holiday? Take your work with you if you can’t take a break from it.
Prefer a more social work environment with the ability to network with others? Explore the option of finding a co-working space close to where you live.
(Co-working spaces have already established themselves in other countries as the next best option to actually going to a workplace. They can now also be seen in most big cities in India.)
All you need is a reliable internet connection to be able to work remotely.
3. Earn for Yourself and Your Family
Remote work allows you the opportunity to earn money and contribute to your family’s finances without sacrificing the time you spend with them.
4. Learn New Skills
As a remote worker you will get the chance to continuously improve your existing skills and acquire new skills. You’re basically an entrepreneur!
You will learn to use remote collaboration tools and time tracking software. You will learn organization and time management skills. You will develop better communication skills to deal with clients and employers. You will keep abreast of emerging trends in your field and improve your technical skills by taking new courses. You will learn to manage your finances on your own.
All these additional skills will make you a more well-rounded, confident person.
5. Create Value for Society
With the explosion of digital media and increased penetration of internet many small and medium businesses are looking to improve their online presence.
There is now a vast ocean of opportunity to create digital assets for business small or medium scale. As a remote worker, you can create value for your society by helping these businesses flourish.
And it’s not just the technically-inclined or business-minded people who do well in remote work. Art graduates can find work easily too. You just need to find something you love to do.
5 Cons of Remote Working
1. Procrastination is Your Worst Enemy
As someone said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done.”
Keeping yourself motivated is probably the most difficult part of working remotely. Some days you may just want to laze around and binge-watch the latest Netflix show.
Besides, there is also the tendency to doubt yourself and your abilities. “Imposter syndrome” is a recognized psychological pattern that afflicts majority of the population. It is the “inner doubt”, a feeling that one is a fraud, or that one is not good enough.
2. Distractions Galore
When you work from home there are a hundred other things that can distract you or pull your attention away. The line between work and other responsibilities could get blurred and your schedule could get disrupted. With no one to look over your back or account to but yourself, you could get lax and end up wasting more time than needed on non-work activities.
3. Feelings of Loneliness
Working five days a week in isolation can get very lonely very fast. Some people thrive in solitude and do their best work by themselves. But if you are the kind who craves physical closeness to others, then you will need to find ways to combat feelings of loneliness.
4. Overworking (or Underworking)
Depending on your personality type, work ethic and passion for your job you could end up either overworking or underworking. Falling into either habit is very easy to do when working remotely.
Both can lead to disastrous results. While underworking can lead to a drop in productivity, overworking can result in stress and rapid burnout.
5. Technical Issues
Poor internet connectivity and frequent power cuts are a reality in India. Since remote work relies heavily on the internet, these issues could make communications and submissions a nightmare.
5 Tips to Get Started with Remote Work
- Create a home office or find a quiet library close by. Demarcate a space for your work that is free from distractions. As a remote worker, you will need a quiet place to think, take calls, attend video-conference meetings and so on.
- Create a workable schedule and stick to it. Don’t let any other tasks distract you in the time allocated to work. When it’s time to switch off, do it as soon as possible and go on to your other tasks.
- Self-directed learning is the best way to pick up new skills and hone your existing ones. There are plenty of online courses available on various topics like SEO, Social Media Marketing, Content Writing, Web Design and so on.
- Get help from your network. Join online forums and groups in LinkedIn and other channels. Find others who do similar work and connect with them through social media or attend in-person conferences. For example, WordPress has a well-connected fraternity that meets regularly and conducts camps in various places.
- Get your own personal email ID and create your own website or blog to promote yourself and your skills.
Opportunities for Remote Work
There are plenty of opportunities for remote workers if you know where to look. You can find jobs by searching remote job sites, networking with people at co-working spaces or company events, joining online forums dedicated to your field on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and so on.
Here are some of the hottest opportunities in work from home options available today.
- If you have a business or marketing background, online marketing could be your best bet. This includes SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing, Link Building for other companies and so on.
- If you are good with the written word try content writing, editing documents or blog writing.
- Did you excel in a subject in school? You could take online tuitions for various subjects (music, maths, engineering)
- If you’re artistically inclined then web design and graphic design (using Illustrator or Photoshop) could be your chosen field. Flyer marketing is a related field which involves designing flyers for spreading messages on social media.
- Do you have a way with people? You could be a virtual assistant or customer care executive. Check out Happiness Engineers at WordPress’s parent company Automattic.
- Do you make something unique? Build your own e-commerce store to sell your goods. For example, this girl sells bonsais on her website.
- Are you good with technology? Company email management involves creating and managing professional email IDs for businesses. Companies are increasingly looking for this to show that their business is chic and professional.
The main traits most employers look for in remote workers are reliability, passion and the ability to work autonomously.
If you think you have what it takes to be a remote worker, then what are you waiting for! Go create a career for yourself.