How to Work Remotely. Complete Guide for 2020

By Jayden Andrews. April 8, 2020

Way before the COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers to embrace remote work from home, this remote work setup has already been a rising trend. This could be partly attributed to the rapid growth of the outsourcing industry, where businesses can hire virtual employees across the globe. You’ve probably heard of virtual assistants, cold callers, data entry specialists, appointment setters, and call center agents. They are the types of employees who usually work from home.

For businesses that are already implementing, either partially or fully, a work from home setup, they were lucky because they had more time to prepare, plan, research, and learn more about the challenges of remote work. Because of this preparation stage, they are able to mitigate the risks and maximize the benefits of working from home.

Unfortunately, with the world descending into chaos due to COVID-19, companies, big and small, are forced to redesign the structure of their work environment. Today, remote work from home is no longer the future of work. It is the present that most companies are facing right now. Businesses have no choice but to switch to a different work setup where every member of the team works online. And this sudden switch has taken a lot of employees by surprise.

Businesses had no time, preparation, and resources to invest in training their employees on how to work online. Let’s admit it: remote work is not for everyone. And if you simply send home your employees along with their computers and other work equipment, how do you ensure that your tasks get actually done? Working from home has a lot of benefits, but you need to have an effective system in place for it to actually work.

So if you’re one of those businesses or employees who were suddenly thrust into this situation, this article will be your guide in handling all the challenges and questions you might have about working from home. We’ll discuss which are the best jobs to work remotely, what tools to use to ensure productivity, where to find a remote job, and some tips on how to work remotely.

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What Is Remote Work?

Remote work is loosely defined as any part-time, project-based, or full-time work that an employee is doing outside the company’s workplace or office. When we say “outside,” this means that you can work anywhere you feel comfortable working — from your home, the beach, the nearest coffee shop, your car, or even from a coworking space where other freelancers and remote workers can work from. All you need is your laptop or desktop and a strong internet connection.

Sounds liberating, right? In a sense, working from home gives you the freedom to work without having to worry about traffic, dress codes, and all the nuisances of working in an office setting. And this is probably the reason behind the recent boom in remote jobs.

According to Flex Jobs, there was a 159% increase in remote work from 2005 to 2017. There may not be exact figures that tell us the actual number of people who work remotely, but current statistics reveal that this trend is rapidly increasing. Some employees are working from a remote location full time, but there is also a growing number of them who are still doing the rest of their duties in the office. This type of setup cannot be considered remote work. We’ll discuss in the next section the difference between working remotely and working from home.

Best Jobs to Work Remotely

Whether you’re an office worker switching to a remote work setting or someone looking for new remote work opportunities, here are some of the jobs that allow you to work remotely.

Computer Programming

Software engineer: $7,672 per month (average)

As the industry computer coding and AI continues to grow, businesses are now in great need for programmers. Though most programming jobs need specific skill sets, there are many online programs and courses that teach people the language of programming, so you can get a decent job even without a college degree. And since the work is mostly computer-based, most programmers work remotely.


Online and Email Marketing

Digital Marketer salary: $5,142 per month (average)

Online and email marketers handle the tasks of designing email marketing, advertising campaigns, managing subscriber lists, and increasing their company or client’s reach. Remote workers who work as online marketers or email marketers may work full-time, part-time, project-based, or on a freelance basis.


Freelance Writing Gigs

Copywriter salary: $4,762 per month (average)

From blog writing to copywriting to content marketing, there are a lot of freelance writing opportunities for those who have the flair for writing. It would be great if you have a professional portfolio to showcase your work to your prospective clients. Writing gigs can be a good way to earn money while working remotely.


Sales

Sales representative salary: $4,279 per month (average)

Sales people can work anytime, anywhere. That’s why outbound sales people typically work a flexible schedule and are not required to go to the office. Furthermore, a lot of salespeople can work from wherever they wish, though some companies may require you to do a bit of travel. But employers usually don’t mind sales people working from home as long as you the sales goals are met.


Medical Coding and Billing

Coding Specialist salary: $3,606 per month (average)

In this time of COVID-19, the healthcare system is on overdrive and medical billers will be most in demand. Medical billers convert the doctors’ notes into billing codes that will be used for insurance payments. It is the role of medical coders and billers to make sure that the insurance providers forward payments according to the medical billing protocols. Medical coders and billers are very important to the healthcare industry, especially right now when we’re having a medical emergency.


Translation Jobs

Translator/Interpreter salary: $3,594 per month (average)

If you are proficient in other languages, you can try to find a job as a translator. Most of these jobs are done remotely and on a project or freelance basis. You might be asked to translate web pages, articles, magazines, books, video subtitles, and other text in a different language.


Graphic Design Jobs

Graphic Designer salary: $3,481 per month (average)

Most businesses need a website and graphic materials for marketing purposes. Because of this, there are a lot of web developers and graphic designers who are working either for a company or as freelancers. However, creating a website or designing posters requires a certain set of talent, otherwise, nobody would like your work. Skills in web development can be acquired through online training, but having an eye for great design can’t be easily learned.


Customer Service Jobs

Customer Service Representative salary: $3,339 per month (average)

Many businesses, including online sellers and other organizations, work with customer service representatives to manage their customer service requests. When you see a chat button on the company’s website or send a message via their Facebook page, there is a huge chance that the person replying to your messages is working remotely for that company. If you have a background in customer support, marketing, retail, or communications, this would be a great place to start.


Call Center Jobs

Call center representative salary: $2,149 per month (average)

If you have amazing phone skills and you love talking to people, a remote call center position is one of the jobs where you can work remotely. Several offshore companies often hire virtual call center agents for their own business needs, while other businesses outsource to third-party providers.


Data Entry and Transcription Jobs

Data Entry Clerk salary: $2,232 per month (average)

If you’re an entry-level employee looking for a side-job or a full-time work remotely, you can try data entry jobs. The only requirement is that you need to be able to type quickly and accurately. If you have advanced skills and sufficient typing experience, you may also consider transcription or medical coding jobs.

All the salaries are based on Indeed calculaltions

Where to Find Jobs That Allow You to Work Remotely

Here’s a tip: You don’t actually have to search for a remote work from home just to get a remote job. If there’s a company you want to work for, send them an email and ask if they are open for the work arrangement that you have in mind.

There might not be that many full-remote companies yet, but here are some of the big companies that offer remote work:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Automattic
  • Baremetrics
  • Buffer
  • CROmetrics
  • Canva
  • CircleCI
  • Close.io
  • Convergys
  • ConvertKit
  • Dell
  • DigitalOcean
  • Glassdoor
  • Hotjar
  • Intuit
  • IT Pros
  • MeetEdgar
  • Rackspace
  • Red Hat
  • Redox, Inc.

 

Aside from these companies, there are also other websites that focus on remote work:

 

LinkedIn also has a lot of remote work job posts if you know how to look. You can try searching for “job position + remote work” or “job position + work from home” in the search field. Filter the results and start sending in your applications.

Essential Tools for Remote Work

There is no single best way to work from home. The strategies and tools you use to deal with your daily tasks and projects will depend entirely on how you work online and on your company’s regulations. There is also no such thing as a tool for working remotely because the apps that we use for remote work can also be used by other employees in the office setting.

Here are some of the tools that will make working remotely a lot more productive and convenient:

Slack

Slack is a team collaboration and communication tool that’s available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and browsers. It brings the remote workers on the team together by organizing conversations where everyone can join and leave as needed. The app supports instant messaging, status sharing, file sharing, voice and video calls, as well as screen sharing.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a free cloud storage for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android devices. It works much better for remote and collaborative online teams than other alternatives. You can save and edits documents in real-time using this app, and you can share them with the team for easier collaboration. It also has a free cloud storage where users can create, upload, share, and collaborate on specific files.

Zoom

This suite of video conferencing tools, designed for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and the web, allows remote teams to conduct meetings, virtual businesses conferences, and webinars. You can use Zoom for your virtual meetings, as well as for making video and voice calls. It also has a messaging function and file-sharing capabilities.

Traqq

Traqq is a time-tracking software that allows remote workers to monitor how much time they spend for work. It also allows the employee to process payroll a lot easier and faster because the number of worked hours is easily accessible. Using a time-tracker such as Traqq is particularly important for remote workers who are paid on a per-hour basis.

VPN

Working remotely means accessing your company or business’ data from an unsecure location. You might think that your home network is safe because it is protected by a password, but what you don’t realize is that you’re under constant surveillance 24/7 by your ISP. If you want to protect your data and ensure your privacy, installing a VPN is the best way to go. Aside from having an extra layer of protection for your important files, a good VPN also helps you access restricted websites that you need for your work.

TeamViewer

TeamViewer is a handy software application used for remote control, desktop sharing, virtual meetings, web conferencing, and file transfer between two computers. With this app, you can easily access the remote worker’s computer without needing to go through firewall restrictions. You can easily access the linked computer as if you’re sitting right in front of it. This app is useful for troubleshooting and other activities that require direct access to the computer.

Serene

This is a free productivity app for remote workers and online teams using Mac computers. The Serene app helps each team member to maximize efficiency by letting them focus on one goal every day instead of dividing their attention on various tasks. Various studies show that multitasking reduces productivity and this is the main principle behind Serene.

Some of the useful features of the app include Website blocker, App blocker, Distraction-free sessions, Session time, To-do list, Day planner, Focus music, and Phone silencer.

Status Hero

This collaboration app available for Windows, Mac, and web browsers, allows team members to set their status. You can set your status as available, busy, away, and unavailable. It is important to set the correct status so that the other team members know when to interrupt you, ask you some questions, or simply see how you’re doing. Status Hero is a basic app that is packed with useful features, such as observer mode that allows managers to see your progress without interrupting you, check-ins to let your team know what you’re up to, and mood tracking.

Toggl

Toggl is a time-tracking app for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, and Firefox. It runs silently in the background while you’re busy working on your tasks. It was initially designed to track how long it takes you to finish your tasks, but now it is used to maximize productivity for online teams and individual employers. Aside from time tracking, it also sends reports automatically about your activities. Toggl works across different platforms so you can use it anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Monday

Monday is a project management app remote workers can use on iOS devices, Android devices, and the web app. There are a lot of project management tools created for online teams today, but monday provides more advanced features compared to some of the better-known apps like Trello. Most project management tools redesign the to-do list idea or create Kanban boards, but the monday app incorporates a fully-featured management platform concept for both team leaders and members.

Doodle

Doodle is a scheduling app that enables remote teams to easily arrange meetings without sending emails back-and-forths, which can be quite annoying. No matter how large your team is, what timezones they’re located in, or how many teams you work with, Doodle can arrange your meetings effortlessly. This is essential for remote teams that are distributed across different timezones. The app can handle team scheduling, setting up reminders, and keeping personal events and meetings hidden from other members.

Tips for Working Remotely

If you’ve been working in the office for a long time and you suddenly switched to a remote work setup, you might find it a bit difficult to adapt to this new lifestyle. Remote work does have its perks, but it also has its own share of downsides. The challenge now is how to deal with the issues that arise when working from home and ensure that you’re still hitting your target at the end of the day.

Here are some useful and practical tips for employees who are working remotely or from home:

Define Your Work Schedule or Routine.

Some companies set a defined work schedule for their remote workers while others give their remote employees to choose their own schedule. If your employer belongs to the first group, then you have no choice but to follow the assigned schedule. But if your employer leaves the scheduling to you, you need to follow a certain schedule to provide some sense of organization into your work life. It is a lot easier if all the members of your team follow the same fixed schedule so it is more convenient for you to communicate with each other.

Block Distracting Websites.

If you often find yourself spending more time on YouTube, Twitter, or on Facebook, then you need to block these websites while you work so you can get something done. Closing the browser will not work because you can easily open the browser and visit the website again. What you need is a website blocker so you won’t be tempted to visit those websites.

Take Some of Your Work Offline.

Staring at the screen continuously for eight hours can make your eyes tired and irritated. If you can do some of your tasks out of the screen, that would help refresh your sight and make things less boring. For example, you can try sketching a logo or a drawing by hand instead of using your computer for it. You just need to scan the sketch if you need to send or show it to someone. You can also write your notes down on post-its instead of having to open your note-taking app every single time you need to write something down.

Take Short, Regular Breaks.

No one can work for eight hours straight without a break, unless you’re a robot. You need to take a few minutes every hour to refresh your eyes and adjust your mood. This is especially important if you’re doing repetitive and boring tasks. Just stand up from your desk, work around your workplace, and stare outside for a change of scenery. You’ll be surprised at how effective those few minutes of rest can be.

Organize Your Desk.

Nobody else will see your desk, except for you. However, working in a messy work environment can greatly affect your mood and your productivity. Remove unnecessary clutter from your desk and throw your garbage in the trash. Your desk will thank you a lot for that.

Most Importantly, Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help.

Working from home can be really challenging because you don’t have anyone to talk to or discuss with about your work. So if you have anything you don’t understand or you’re not sure whether what you’re doing is correct, don’t hesitate to send your team leader or other team members a message. Working remotely is already difficult as it is, so you need to support each other to make it work.

Pros and Cons of Remote Work From Home

Benefits of Remote Work From Home

For business owners and employers, they can benefit from this work arrangement by having access to a larger pool of potential labor When your employee pool is not geographically restricted, the chances of finding the right people increases. You’ll have more candidates to choose from all over the world. Virtual employees are also much cheaper in most cases, saving businesses and employers a lot of money.

Recent industry studies also reveal that remote workers are more productive than office workers. According to the latest Global Workplace Analytics survey, 53% of remote workers are more willing to work overtime, compared to 28% of in-office employees.

Working remotely also improves the employees’ lifestyle. Remote workers don’t have to suffer the experience of a hellish commute, so they are feeling less stressed. A study conducted by Swedish researchers discovered that couples with at least one partner commuting more than 45 minutes a day have a 40% higher chance of going through a divorce than those who experience shorter commutes.

The threat of the coronavirus has also highlighted one of the critical advantages of working remotely: By working online, you can keep your employees healthy in situations where working in the office puts your team members at risk. Because of the increasing climate issues and its consequences, including wildfires, earthquakes, and drought, an online workforce can keep your company still running, even during a crisis.

Probably the best argument for working remotely is that many of the existing barriers to having virtual workforces have been rendered futile by technology.

Disadvantages of Working Remotely

Working remotely is not a totally ideal situation because it has its own flaws. There are a lot of challenges that need to be addressed, on both the employee and the employer’s side.

Remote work, in truth, is just like any other job, except for the advantages listed above. The benefits above may get you to believe that remote work is the best option for you, but wait until you read the rest of our list of disadvantages.

Here are some of the downsides of working from home:

It can get lonely.

This is especially true if you’re living alone. The feeling of isolation becomes very strong when you see your team members, or even other teams from a different company, enjoying their lunch out, karaoke night, or team building activities. If you’re working for a full-remote team, you might never even get to meet your teammates in person.

Lack of personal human interaction is a huge issue in terms of maintaining an effective work communication. If your company has an office, you should consider dropping by just to see your co-workers and interact with them in person. Or you can schedule to meet the other remote workers by working in a co-working space or the coffee shop from time to time.

Distractions are everywhere.

Distraction is always an issue when it comes to remote work. There will always be that article you want to read or a YouTube video that you need to watch right at that moment. Or the food that smells delicious from the kitchen or your dog begging you for a walk. Distractions are everywhere and if the employee does not have an effective way to deal with it, productivity will suffer a lot.

Less physical activity.

One of the health problems facing remote workers is the lack of physical activity. No walking, no going up and down the stairs, and no running to catch the bus or train. It sounds nice not having to commute, but remote workers don’t realize the dangers of a very stagnant lifestyle. That one hour every day that you spend you walking to and from work would have been a good cardio exercise for you. Now, all you do is sit all day.

We all know that no physical activity is bad for our health and causes a lot of other illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. To avoid these health problems, do some stretching every few hours and take a short walk at lunch or during your breaks. If you could go to the gym, much better.

Team communication issues.

Even if you’re great at communicating with the rest of the team members, the truth is that not everyone in the team will know how to collaborate with others via online channels. This is especially true for more senior members of the team who are used to the traditional methods of communication. When managing a remote team, keep in mind that the key to effective communication is understanding the communication style of each member of the team.

Tech problems.

What do you do when your computer suddenly crashes or has become unresponsive when you’re in the middle of something? What if your internet connection drops and you are not able to reach out to other team members? These tech emergencies could greatly affect your work. You need to be prepared for these events to prevent it from doing your work. You need to have backup resources just in case this happens to you. This is extremely important for employees located in areas where there are frequent cases of lost internet connection, power outages, or natural disasters.

Data Security.

Working from a remote place, such as your home, the coffee shop, or a co-working space means connecting to an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. This could put, not only your personal information, but your company’s data, into a vulnerable position. Aside from employing safe internet practices, you should also invest in a reliable VPN that would help protect your company’s data while connected to a non-work network. If you’re having trouble finding the best VPN for your needs, you can read VPN review sites, such as VPN Watch, for the latest comparison of the best VPN services in the market today.

Remote Work vs Work From Home

Just because you work from home for two days and spend the rest in the office doesn’t mean that you’re already doing remote work. You’re working from home but you’re not working remotely. A lot of businesses have been offering flexible work solutions recently, where workers have more freedom to create their daily schedule. They can specify which days they want to work from home and which days they want to go to the office.

Remote work, on the other hand, means not working from home for a few days or a few weeks. It means doing all your work from a remote location. You don’t have to report to the office or the company’s headquarters. You’ll be working as if you’re in an office, except that you don’t have to deal with officemates (at least, not face-to-face) and traffic.

Different Types of Remote Employees

Just as there are different types of businesses and business setups, there are also different types of remote employees. Here are the different setups of remote work:

Full Remote Team

In this work arrangement, all employees work from different places across the globe, sometimes from different time zones. The challenge here is to ensure communication doesn’t suffer because of the time-gap between remote employees.

Some businesses prefer this setup so that their employees can cover the different time zones of their clients. For example, a company can hire customer service agents from different time zones to ensure all customer concerns are handled 24/7.

Semi-Remote Team

In this case, only a few members of the team work online while the others work in the office. Canva, Amazon, Apple, Dell, and a lot of other big companies are implementing this work setup. This is ideal for businesses that can’t afford to have all of their work from home due to some reason. For example, someone has to be in the office to process documents, handle sales, or process payroll.

The Freelancer

Working remotely is not only for teams. Freelancers and individuals can also work remotely. In fact, they are actually the ones who started this work from home setup.

Most freelancers work remotely for several years, except for those who were hired for project-based work. Virtual assistants, graphic designers, and writers usually belong to this category. Being a freelancer is the best option for independent individuals who prefer to work with multiple clients instead of a single company.

The problem with this setup is that freelancing opportunities are never stable. There are times when there are more projects and there are times when work is scarce.

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