You might be surprised to know that remote working arrangements are similar to those of co-located roles. And yes, that includes part time. In fact, remote companies are pioneering the future of remote working arrangements as they prioritise diversity and scour the global talent pool for the best people they can find. The biggest choice you have to make is whether you want to be an employee or an independent contractor.
But with the advantages and disadvantages of both to consider, this isn’t always an easy choice. But don’t worry, I lay it all out simply silly, and have a cracker of a checklist cheatsheet to go with this episode too, so you can weigh each working arrangement against the vision you have for your life and work, and choose the right one for you. Since this is the year to find a remote job, it’s a good time to learn the nuts and bolts of contract arrangements.
We’ll be talking about…
- Employee versus self-employed
- The benefits of full-time or part time remote contracts
- The benefits of being an independent contractor
- The hybrid contract that combines both!
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One question I get asked the most is what kind of contract or working arrangements my remote roles are. Meaning, whether they are full time, part time, contract or freelance work.
The answer is: it depends on the company, the role and the objectives of the project at hand. When I was working for MSN I was a full-time employee. MSN was ‘remote-first’ — a term I’ll talk more about in the next episode about remote terminology — meaning almost almost anyone could work remotely because anyone who wanted to was set up with remote access to company servers from home. I’ve had three ongoing contracts as a consultant, which is an independent contractor, and one 5-week fixed contract as an independent contractor.
Employee versus self-employed remote worker
The two primary differences are whether you’re considered an employee or independent contractor. Full time or part time usually means you’re a full time or part time employee. And contract, project or freelance agreements usually means you’re an independent contractor. And then there’s a hybrid type of contract which could be either: which is called contract-to-hire, where you start as an independent contractor on a fixed length contractor, then as an employee if you both want to continue the relationship.
A lot of people ask me about part time roles, and yes, there are plenty of remote part time remote roles on offer! Let’s get into each one in more detail so you can decide which ones might be a better fit for you. Just FYI there’s a lot of grey, I’m just giving you broad brush strokes so you can start doing your own thinking and research about how the different working arrangements might align well with the work style and life style vision you have for yourself.
Full-time or part-time remote employee
As an employee you might be either a full time or part time employee. In either case you have similar job security and protections under the law as a regular part time job, have a salary, and access to various benefits including paid vacation & corporate holidays. You can look forward to a longer tenure within the company, including personal and professional growth and training more aligned with the traditional idea of building a career. Full time and part-time working hours are usually defined by the company, but align similarly with co-located office jobs, for example 40 hrs and 20 hrs a week respectively. And increasingly with remote-first companies, both have less ‘fixed’ working hours because of the focus on output over hours worked.
What is an independent contractor?
Which basically means you’re self-employed. You will typically do freelance and project work as an independent contractor. Independent contractors take care of their own accounting, invoicing and taxes, do their own marketing, self promotion and networking to generate contract opportunities, often work for fixed-term lengths to complete a specific objective, project or task, and don’t receive company benefits therefore tend to charge more for their services. There’s less job security, and you are in complete control of building an interesting & exciting career in whatever direction you want. Freelance is especially attractive to people who love the idea of a blended portfolio, juggling different clients at the same time, and don’t mind down time between contracts while they look for another; project or longer term contracts work well for people who love working for one client for longer periods of time, and less down time and uncertainty between contracts.
The rise of the ‘contract-to-hire remote contract
This is something increasingly offered by remote companies to frame a well-structured trial period before you officially become an employee.
Remote work is a pic’n’mix
There is such diversity of working arrangements across all industries, sector, category, skill sets & job titles. You can shift between freelance, contract & full-time. It’s up to you to define your work style and lifestyle and see which ones fit with what you want right now. And to help you decide, of course there’s a cheat sheet checklist that comes with today’s episode. It’s worksheet 4 of the podcast pack. If you don’t have a copy yet, grab one here or click the link below.
You get to choose whether you get paid hourly or by project, whether you want salary and benefits or charge higher fees, have an employer or have multiple clients. It’s pretty empowering It all depends on your career goals, your life goals, your family situation, your location and the local economy, your work style, and so on.
But most importantly, check with your governing tax body for the implications of the differing job status in your location so that you know the specific tax, insurance, and benefits guidelines in your country. In the US it’s the IRS, in the UK it’s HMRC, in Australia it’s the ATO. Then you’re well-armed to make informed decisions for your new freedom work life.
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