What is Remote Work Really Like and Is It the Right Move For You?

Learn the basics with this remote work primer and find out if a day in the life of a virtual employee sounds like your next career leap.

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What is remote work really like?

Despite all the reasons remote work is trending, many people still can’t get over the popular myths about virtual work so they haven’t experienced it firsthand for themselves.

And that may be a tremendous mistake.

Because the truth is remote work trumps everything else. What is Remote Work? You can thank advances in technology for the multitude of location-independent jobs currently available for people who don’t want to be stuck in a cubicle all day.

Now most folks can get all their work done from a computer or laptop connected to the internet. And apps like Google Drive, Slack, and Asana keep all team members on the same page.

This way of life is quickly becoming the preferred work style of millennials, Gen Z, and even retiring baby boomers.

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One survey showed 68% of millennial job seekers specifically would be more interested in employers if they offered an option to work remotely[*].

Another remote worker survey shows 90% of people who transition to a virtual workplace hope to work remotely until they retire.

And that says a lot about the work life. What is Remote Work Like? According to remote employees, remote work is: Wise for the Budget Conscious Researchers in one survey learned 74% of employees would quit their current jobs to work remotely for a different company even if their salary stayed exactly the same[*].

And there’s even more financial gain to look forward to:

  • Full-time remote workers save over \$4,000 each year[*]
  • They also earn \$4,000 more, on average[*]
  • And 75% of employees working remotely make at least \$65,000 per year, putting them in the upper 80th percentile of all employees, home or office-based[*].

If you’re living in an expensive area where your position is currently located, you can also save money by moving to a town with a lower cost of living when you work remotely.

Or use that cash to fund your wanderlust as you transition to life as a digital nomad. Liberating Remote work gives you the freedom to live your life and not let your job be in control.

Work in a designated space in your home or let every coffee shop, library, brewery, museum, outdoor pavilion, or cafe become your office.

The ability to work from almost anywhere means you’ll never be trapped in a cubicle and forced to stare at the back of your coworker’s ugly sweater for eight hours a day, five days a week.

Empty passport pages begging for stamps? Pack up your laptop for a change of scenery and travel to one of the best cities for remote work.

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And if your partner relocates, you won’t have to leave a job you love just to be with the one you love. Your job goes with you wherever life takes you.

Not ready to go back to work after a new baby? Keep moving forward in your career working remotely from home.

You may be surprised by how much you actually accomplish during the day. More Productive In a survey of over 2,000 adults[*]:

  • 61% named loud coworkers as their biggest office distraction
  • 40% admitted unscheduled meetings disrupted their workflow
  • 86% felt most productive when working alone

Ditch the distracting office gossip, time-wasting meetings, and fluorescent overhead lights and you’ll boost your productivity levels.

One nearly two-year study showed a productivity boost for telecommuters was equivalent to a full day's work of their in-office counterparts[*].

But even still, remote workers aren’t robots set on overdrive; many admit to having better relationships with team members working afar. Connected It’s easy to make small talk with the people sitting at the desk right next to yours; it’s another to actively go out of your way to connect with your coworkers digitally.

Rather than remote employees working in their separate cocoons apart from each other, research shows virtual coworkers make more of an effort to socialize, they have more meaningful conversations, and form deeper relationships as a result[*].

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Email, SMS, Slack, WhatsApp and every other type of messaging app out there helps remote workers feel more connected to their teams than in-office employees do with their coworkers[*].

This will feed your social needs even if you’re not totally used to working solo.

Another perk virtual employees share is greater flexibility in their day-to-day activities. Flexible A flexible schedule ranks as one of the top three reasons people flock to remote work.

Since the majority of remote positions don’t require employees to clock in at certain specific times of the day, employees have the freedom to work whenever they’re most productive or able to.

Telecommuters are simply trusted to get their work done by their deadlines.

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A remote job with a flexible schedule is fantastic for:

  • College students
  • Caretakers of sick or elderly relatives
  • People working part-time elsewhere
  • Parents or guardians of babies and children who need constant shuttling around to their activities and help with homework.

Get all your chores and errands done and maybe even squeeze in a workout when you start working remotely.

Healthier

A daily commute has been blamed for contributing to[*]:

  • Decreased physical activity levels
  • Lower cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Higher BMI and waist circumference
  • Higher blood pressure

But those poor health markers also extend to your mental health and well-being.

The Office of National Statistics in the UK learned that when compared to non-commuters, daily commuters[*]:

  • Experienced less satisfaction with their lives
  • Reported lower levels of happiness
  • Rated their daily activities as less worthwhile
  • Suffered from higher anxiety

And the farther you have to drive in stressful rush-hour traffic, the greater your health risks. Yikes!

Not only do remote workers bypass the health hazards of commuting, but they also have more time in their schedules to fit in workouts, cook healthy meals, and clock more snooze time.

This well-rounded routine may be why stats show remote workers are less stressed and have higher morale. But it could also be the lack of a horrible boss too. Empowering Besides the hectic morning commute in rush hour traffic, another huge reason people quit their jobs for remote work is to get away from a boss they don’t like.

Because when you work remotely, there’s no one over your shoulder nagging about TPS reports.

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Remote workers feel empowered more often than in-office workers because they:

  • Create and stick to their own schedule and get their work done without constant supervision.
  • Have the discipline to ignore distractions without being told to get back to work.
  • Make decisions alone since they’re working on their own, in possibly a different time zone where they can’t ask anyone questions.

With greater accountability also comes higher satisfaction and pride with the work virtual employees achieve. More Fulfilling Many people have lofty dreams about following a career path they love only to be disappointed when they can’t find those types of jobs where they live.

But when it comes to your career, remote work removes location from the equation.

Now you don’t have to move to a pricey downtown hub just to work in tech, or settle for a local job you hate just because relocation isn’t in your cards at the minute.

A remote position in your field could give you the job satisfaction of working your dream no matter where you or your family live.

Though ideal for many, remote work may not make everyone happy professionally. Is Remote Work Right for You? To determine if you have the right temperament and personality for it, ask yourself these questions:

Are you an excellent communicator? You need fire communication skills to stay in touch with your remote team. This helps others trust the work is getting done even though they can’t see that it is. Communication also boosts teamwork and cooperation.

Do you have strong motivation, discipline, and time management skills? You must be a self-starter able to stay focused and productive without coworkers to keep you in line or a supervisor holding you accountable for meeting deadlines.

Are you a confident problem solver? Working remotely takes a higher degree of independence than working in an open office with others to rely on. You should enjoy working self-sufficiently and not break a sweat if you need to make tough decisions solo.

Will you balance your remote work life with an active off-duty life? It can become lonely working by yourself. So the best people for the job also like to get out to coworking spaces to mingle with other digital nomads and have active hobbies and interests filling up their social life.

Spot these signs remote work life could be your jam and start browsing open positions ASAP. What is Remote Work Like In Your Field? Your current job may be easy to transition to a remote position. But if your boss gives you a thumbs down, you’ll have to look for remote jobs in your field elsewhere.

Check out the opportunities on We Work Remotely, a job board exclusively for remote work positions in industries such as programming, marketing, design, customer support, and a whole lot more.

Without knowing what’s out there, you could be letting the chance to have a healthier, more productive, and fulfilling remote career pass you by.

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