Remote work, anyone? Just this past year forced many people to work remotely – whether they had initially planned to give it a go or not. One way or another, many people have come to understand the benefits of remote work, be it additional leisure time or less stress.
However, what remote work primarily stands for is freedom, as the possibility to work from anywhere in the world allows for a more relaxed lifestyle. One notable example is digital nomadism – the trend that has been gaining popularity of late for more reasons than one.
It would seem that people have forgotten that the whole point of work is to earn enough money to be able to afford a decent lifestyle, let alone one tailored to your preferences.
It’s not like it’s not a win-win situation – even for companies. Remote work spells a happier workforce and also great cost reductions, starting with physical office space.
However, if you’re not a full-time employee working remotely, you may come to realize that the global market is huge, and so is the competition.
Is there no way, then, to remain competitive and afford a great lifestyle?
Relax! The global scene is big enough for everyone. To remain successful as a remote worker in the long run, however, you will need to rethink a couple of approaches and gain a habit or two that basically spells continual learning and good discipline.
1. Self-Discipline and Time-Management
Some remote workers have fixed working hours, but there are even more of them who engage in per-project work. Whichever practice you are striving to achieve, you will need to learn to manage time and to be disciplined.
The latter has proven to be particularly difficult to people new to remote work, as they tend to think that – since they are finally the masters of their time – they can waste some time here and there on browsing through their newsfeed, for example.
First of all, it is crucial to realize that each task that gets interrupted takes longer to finish, no matter where you are performing it.
One successful way to manage your time is to draft daily schedules that will include working hours and regular breaks. Some people choose a schedule that lists all daily activities, including the ones after work.
If you’re having problems being disciplined at first, just make an effort to stick to your schedule. In time, you’ll get used to this new routine.
2. Continual Learning
Needless to say, everyone who intends to remain competitive in the long run needs to continually improve their knowledge. Things are a bit more complex when it comes to remote workers, as they need to be tech-savvy on top of being professional in what they do.
As we all know, online communication tools (and they are just one notable example among many) keep popping up out of the blue. With the increasing number of remote workers, so do other suitable apps (such as Asana, Trello and other task management tools). Also, look for tools that can turn your inbox into something far more productive.
This may be a bit problematic in the beginning to people who are not normally interested in innovation, but keep this in mind: if you aren’t ready to adapt to change, you won’t be able to move forward anyway, remote work or office work alike.
3. The Art of Communication and Negotiation
Depending on your vocation, you may be able to find multiple roles. In fact, the global market has so varied an offer that it is often difficult for new remote workers to focus on just one.
Rates can vary greatly, too. Some businesses and individuals target the workforce from other countries to cut their costs. This isn’t necessarily bad, especially if the rates are considerably better than in the employees’ countries, but there will always be unreasonable employers who offer low rates.
It is important to learn to say no. That is, actually, the first lesson every remote worker needs to learn. Even if you are just starting out, you should be aware of your qualities. Familiarize yourself with standard rates/salaries before you go job hunting. Set your own minimum wage and don’t go below that sum, no matter what.
Sometimes, this is easier said than done, especially if you’re a freelancer. New freelancers who don’t have a customer base or at least one or two recurring clients often find themselves working multiple jobs that are paid poorly only to make the ends meet before the right client arrives.
In order for the right client to arrive, you’ll need to hone your communication skills. Note that the usual first step implies written communication, most often – via email. No matter how good you are at what you do, you won’t be looking a prospective employer in the eye. You’ll have to put your offer in words, be literate, concise and convincing. Since you’ll be competing against other applicants, you’ll need to be better than them.
There are multiple ways to increase your job prospects. One of them is – create your website (yourname.com). Invest as much time as needed into creating a quality portfolio that absolutely must be visually compelling. Don’t be lazy with application letters, either. Write one for each application rather than copying the same one. Generic applications are a huge no go. You’ll need to find your style and experiment with different ways of addressing prospective employers.
The above mentioned are the necessary basics. Successful remote workers make their lists longer along the way, as they learn the ropes and get a clearer idea of what to expect. However, it is important to set long-term goals.
For example, if you’re aiming to become a digital nomad, you should plan well ahead, especially if you don’t have a stable job. You should have at least one back-up option to avoid being underpaid until the next great gig arrives.
Again, there are various ways to go about that. Some people advertise their services on multiple platforms and focus on completing as many tasks as possible. Other people rely on recurring clients. Others look for long-term work. All these options are available, and you should think hard about which one (or ones) would suit you best in the long run.
Finally, remember that nowadays everyone can study online. Remote workers and especially freelancers are quite versed in accumulating additional certifications and diplomas because they are tech-savvy and have the freedom to plan their time however they want.
Overall, whether you like it or not, remote work is the future – so start planning!