You don’t have to be a beautiful, fit, 25 year-old, child-free, digital nomad to enjoy the benefits of the remote work style. You can work from your kitchen table in the house you were born in for the rest of your working life, if you like. The location independence that often accompanies a remote job is there if you want it, or need it. You can stay put or travel the world in whatever combination suits you. Travel is not a prerequisite to enjoying more freedom & flexibility in your life in work, sometimes just saving 2 hours commuting to the office is enough of a perk.
That said, there are baseline requirements that would make you an ideal remote worker both from the point of view of your own personal happiness, and for your future remote employer! In episode 54 of The thriving Empire podcast we talk about these baseline requirements so you can decide right not TODAY if the remote job search and a remote career are right for you.
In this episode we’ll be talking about…
- The negative association with remote work that has you thinking it’s not for you
- Why I’m not what you’d typically expect a remote worker to be (& why that’s a good thing!)
- The 6 traits that make you an ideal worker (5 of which you can actually cultivate!)
Get the Podcast Study Pack 3 and receive a worksheet, guide or checklist workbook for every episode, so you can make your remote career & transition a reality ASAP.
Hot on the heels of last week’s episode about why now is the perfect time to find a remote job, today we’re going to talk about the elephant in the room stopping you from thinking the remote work style is for you. Let me set the scene for you. When I tell people I work remotely two things happen.
- They immediately assume I’m a digital nomad, conjuring images of backpacks and hostels, and just as quickly…
- They decide they could never do that nor would they ever want to. Fair play.
But here’s the thing. Digital nomads have become inextricably linked with remote working because they do it for a living and they blog about it a lot, but the association does the world a disservice, because digital nomads are only 10% of the remote workforce. And I’m not one of them!
Digital Nomads Don’t Represent Remote Work
Digital nomads are location independent through the nature of their work — they leverage technology for their job, — you’ve seen the laptop on the beach in their bikini photos on Instagram, which by the way is impossible due to the glare and impractical due to the amount of sand that can get into your laptop and your eyes — anyway, they typically take advantage of that location independence to travel from place to place, stopping in places they like for a few days or a few months at a time.
They can be remote employees, they can be independent contractors or freelancers, or they can run their own business, and as you know many are bloggers that earn money through advertising made possible by the sheer amount of traffic they can drive to their websites, because so many people are envious of the glamourised version of the digital nomad lifestyle (even though it’s mostly a giant hoax!). But that’s another episode I probably won’t create.
All I want to say is this: Don’t let photos of hot 20-somethings posing in-front of incredible vistas toting backpacks make you feel like the whole ‘remote’ shebang is not for you.
Digital nomads only represent 10% of the remote workforce.
I’m 43, a marketing strategist with almost 2 decades of REAL work experience, and I’m location independent, which means I could move my life to another country tomorrow without any disruption to my work contracts or business, but instead I choose to live in 3 countries a year. Same town. Same community. Same apartment in each location. I cook for myself, work in my kitchen, favourite cafe, library, have close friends, feel very settled & happy in my life. Honestly, just the idea of moving from place to place, packing every few days makes me feel exhausted. The last time I really traveled was 2013 when I fell in love with Mexico and it became one of my 3.
So, you don’t have to travel, or move country, or anything like that to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that a remote career offers, but the location independence you can gain from a remote job means you can if you want to. But otherwise you can work from your kitchen table in the house you were born in if you want to!
Remote Work Can Be Enjoyed By All Demographics
Watch out, once you do transition to a remote role, you might be hooked for life.
A Buffer survey found that 90% of remote workers intend to work remotely for life. So how do you know if you are an ideal remote worker?
We’ll talk more about specific skills & characteristics you need to have (or cultivate!) in a forthcoming episode. For now I’ll walk you through some baseline requirements.
1. Are you a knowledge worker?
Whenever you hear or read the term ‘knowledge worker’, Peter Drucker is never far from being mentioned. The Austrian-born, America management consultant known as the founder of modern management wrote an essay for Harvard Business Review in 1992 — he passed away in 2005 — which detailed his vision of our present: he said the new world would be marked by a shift to a knowledge society.
A telling prediction. Since information transmitted by technology is the bedrock of our lives. Most of us can’t even do yoga or breath work exercises without an app. And it’s this technology shift that’s precipitated the rise of our knowledge society, where we now create value with our minds instead of our muscle. The information age is here. So if you have a laptop and get paid to ‘think’, and use technology to create, transmit and share it, then you’re a knowledge worker.
So if you’re a landscape gardener this probably isn’t you. But if you found or work for a landscape gardening company in governance, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, HR, R&D, IT, customer service, quality control, distribution, sourcing, design, product development, engineering — you get the gist!, any department of the business side — then YOU are a knowledge worker!
2. Do you have specific skill set(s)?
Like any job search, you need to know what you’re looking for! Like: copywriter, marketing specialist, product engineer, or UX Designer.
What you do is expressed through your:
- Job title
- List of job-specific skills
Which serve two purposes:
- Helps you with specific job search
- Let’s future employers know what you can do and how you can serve them!
It’s bit like where you come from. When you tell someone you’re from London it gives them a frame of reference and a contextual understanding of you. It’s fine to be a generalist, but that won’t help you with the job search; know your expertise within your generalism.
So, list all alternative job titles, list your skills and the different ways they are referred to. If you need help, I guide you through a quick exercise in the worksheet that goes with this episode.
3. Are you passionate about the career you’re building?
Remote work isn’t an easy ride. It has similar challenges to a co-located job, PLUS additional challenges characterised by a remote work style and lifestyle, so ideally it needs to be something you’re passionate about building a career in.
What characterises a career versus a job?
It’s longer term, it involves professional growth, aligns with your skills and values, you bring the best of yourself to every piece of work, you feel motivated to grow, learn and give back, and you LOVE what you do. And this doesn’t mean you have to choose between being an employee or running your own business; it typically means that whatever role you do, or whatever working arrangement you choose, it follows a theme!
Maybe you have a passion for fitness, so you do marketing for a fitness app, then move into product development for a healthcare app, then launch your own strength training app for women. Well, you have a passion for health & fitness! That’s your career!
A friend of mine is passionate about match-making. She works in sales for a premium matchmaking service, and also launched her own dating app which she’s building a business around from the ground up.
I’m a marketing strategist, but my bigger career theme is helping others achieve their goals. I do full time remote contracts with startups, on-site contracts in media agencies, and run my own business offering products & services geared towards helping people build a business. Now I’m helping people get remote jobs, so they can build their career and the life they want simultaneously. I’m a passionate life & business strategist.
4. Are you good at what you do?
Self-explanatory, right?. Even if you’re entry level, you need to show a degree of capability, whether it’s from a previous role, previous career, or University project. You can do some kind of training or education in the field you’re getting into to show enthusiasm and offer a baseline skill set. Recently I did a UX Design course with Skillcrush to demonstrate my passion for product development & digital platforms.
If you’re experienced, you need to be able to either:
- Show your work as a portfolio, or
- What you’re capable of in response to a brief, or
- Gather testimonials from previous employers or clients
5. Do you have a strong work ethic?
Working remotely might be long periods of time working alone without anyone looking over your shoulder or checking in on you. You have to have this innate internal guidance system that drives you to produce and get the work done. Work ethic gets you so much further than talent alone. I love what Will Smith said:
“I never viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic.” — Will Smith
6. Are you organised?
Obviously you need to know what needs to be done now, then do it. Working flexible hours and having more freedom makes this more challenging for some, so you have to come up with your own strategies to stay organised within your new work and life style.
Some companies will help extract this from their teams: In my last remote role we had a daily update channel in Slack where we posted: Done, Doing, To-Do at the end of everyday. The most savvy remote-first companies prioritise output over hours, so if you can’t organise yourself to get the work done, you won’t make it past the trial period.
We’ll talk about more specific skills & characteristics that you can cultivate in a later episode, for now these are the baseline requirements you need to succeed as a remote worker.
For now if you have the podcast pack 3 crack open worksheet 2 to do the Remote Worker Quiz. I guide you through each of the baseline requirements so you can see where you stack up, and see whether you want to put some skin in the game. Do it, it’s fun!
If you don’t have a copy yet, head over to https://stephanieholland.co/podcastpack3 and get your copy.
Until then, keep living and working on your own terms, so you can build your career and the life you really want simultaneously. See you next week. Bye!
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