There is a lot of confusing talk out there about working from home, so we decided it was about time to step in and explain what fully remote work really means.
What is Fully Remote Work?
Fully remote work means that you are not expected to go to an office to work. Fully remote companies also refer to the themselves as “remote first” and “remote by default.” This generally means that you can work in your own house, in a co-working space, or even at the beach if you want to.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually mean that you can simply take off and travel the world. Your employer will need to meet certain obligations, such as the paying of taxes. This can limit how free you are to move about the world.
For example, a job that does not need you to go to an office but does require you to live in the state of Florida is still fully remote. A job that required you to regularly visit an office in Florida would be more likely called a flexible job.
Do I Need to Work for a Fully Remote Company?
No, but it would probably be easier.
Remote jobs have been available at traditional companies for years. Plus, the current global climate is encouraging more and more companies to provide remote working options.
Still, fully remote companies tend to have a better understanding of the challenges posed by this style of work. They have either built or adapted their companies to make remote working as pleasant and productive as possible.
Hybrid companies, and those who are only now starting to adopt a remote work model, are much more likely to experience problems. These could be with communication, cultural cohesion, motivation, and/or inappropriate management styles.
How Can I Find Fully Remote Work?
Everywhere. Okay, we are not quite at that point yet…but there are far more jobs out there than you think. A recent survey suggested that remote job adverts increased nearly three-fold in 2020.
There are two ways you can approach this: check the websites of remote companies to see if they are hiring, or filter your searches on job boards.
Checking on the websites of fully remote companies is certainly the more time-consuming choice. Still, as you look for jobs you will start to get a clearer sense of the culture and values of each company. It can also give you a better feel for the type of remuneration you should expect.
If you choose to take this route, we have a list of 31 fully remote companies to get you started.
Almost all job boards now allow you to filter your searches to help you find remote work. There are also specialized remote job boards which can help you speed up your search.
You will need to familiarize yourself with the terminology used by each board. Unfortunately, it can vary quite a bit.
No matter where you find a job, you should still read the post very carefully to ensure it truly is for a remote position.
How do Companies Hire and Train People for Fully Remote Work?
Recruiting the right people and helping them become a part of the company is crucial when dealing with remote workers.
On our podcast, we interviewed James Hirst, the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of a global remote-first company called Tyk, to learn more about remote companies. He told us that the approach to hiring was one of the first things they realized they would need to change.
Your job interview is likely to focus a lot on your remote work experience, your side projects, your communication skills, and your personality. You see, remote work does not suit everyone.
The company will want to ensure that you will be able to cope with remote work. They will also want to gauge how well you will mesh with their corporate culture.
As with the interview, you will most likely do your training remotely. Companies accustomed to dealing with remote workers will have created robust onboarding procedures. Your training period will frequently be longer than in a comparable office job.
In some cases, a fully remote job may require you to report to a particular site for training. This is a rare exception rather than the norm.
How do Remote Companies Communicate?
Communication, as you can imagine, is critical when working with distributed teams. This is why many companies require employees to live within certain time zones.
Remote workers will usually rely heavily on asynchronous communication. Having to wait for a response from your co-workers can be a little jarring until you get into the rhythm of it.
Interestingly, since their workers are already motivated to get work completed, remote companies tend to focus more on communication as a means to build virtual relationships.
You can expect to use a lot of communication tools, including the likes of Slack and Zoom. Technology is, after all, a key part of what makes remote working work.
With Fully Remote Work, How do Companies Create/Sustain their Culture?
Fully remote companies are very careful in their recruiting process. They also like to be creative when it comes to reinforcing company culture and bonds between employees. It is not uncommon to find scheduled meetings where the only thing NOT on the agenda is work.
Companies strongly encourage social interaction. This can run the gamut from a virtual coffee break with your co-workers to an annual company retreat in some exotic location.
Successful remote companies work hard to ensure that their workers are empowered and feel like valuable members of a team.
No system is perfect. Still, fully remote companies do seem to have much more success in creating a cohesive company culture than companies with a mixture of on-site and remote employees.
How Do Fully Remote Companies Ensure You Do Your Work?
The simple answer is RESULTS. To be successful remote work needs to focus much more on results than on the process used to obtain those results.
In an office, managers are frequently focused on ensuring that you keep your schedule and are busy working during that schedule. Many remote companies do not care at all about what schedule their employees keep, so long as they deliver their work on time.
It is not uncommon to see remote work positions which come with “unlimited time off.” This can seem rather crazy and extremely appealing at first glance, but all it means is that you are in control of your own time as long as you meet your deadlines.
Remote workers should be self-starters, highly motivated, and extremely responsible. If this is the case, all the company needs to do to ensure you get your work done is to provide you with all the tools and support you need.
Do Fully Remote Workers Get Paid More?
A look at the current news coming out of tech companies adopting remote working suggests that this is not the case. However, these companies were often paying exorbitant salaries to their workers based on the cost of living near their offices.
On the other hand, the salary and benefits provided by some fully remote companies can seem amazing.
The reality is that you will need to do a careful cost breakdown to determine if going remote will benefit you financially. You may save money on items like your commute but you may also have increased costs, such as utility bills.
Once again, established fully remote companies are generally more likely to pay you better. They have a better grasp of the costs employees incur when working at home. They will have designed their benefit packets to attract and keep top talent.
Fully remote work means much more than simply working from home instead of a central office. Work practices, management styles, and corporate culture are all likely to be very different from that found in an office.
Switching to fully remote work will therefore mean a radical change in your lifestyle – which could be exactly what you’re looking for!
Another alternative is going completely your own way and moving into freelancing. Check out this podcast episode on remote working vs freelancing for some inspiration.
Karen Fleming is a writer, translator, and teacher with more than 10 years of freelance experience. When she isn’t reading, writing, or taking yet another online class, she is probably doing some one-on-one tutoring or enjoying a good movie with her husband and two daughters.