Why we’re all becoming more remote

There are many benefits to working remotely and today with more than 5 million Brits embracing the remote working lifestyle, it’s a more popular choice than ever before. Indeed some are of the opinion that this is a long term societal shift that’s here to stay; and it’s not just the working world that’s going remote, academics are too.

There’s a huge rise in the number of virtual enrolments to online courses vs. physical enrolments at campus based universities.  Today, academics are tapping into the remote working lifestyle just as much as the authors, freelancers and solo-preneurs you normally find in coffee shops nursing that one drink for hours while they tap away on their laptops. 

From learning to teaching, thanks to virtual classrooms it also means that there are more options for online teaching jobs. It’s something I will explore in another blog post coming up soon!

Remote entrepreneurship

You and your company don’t need to be living in the same country. You can have a commercial presence in the UK, and be at work from wherever you’d like to be.  For instance, if you visit Your Company Formations you’ll find out that for as little as £5.48 you can have a company registered – via companies house – on your behalf with all the necessary documents emailed to you. Furthermore, you can have a virtual office whereby your mail is scanned and emailed to you so that you can receive it anywhere in the world. Before packing your bags, check the visa requirements for the country you are planning to work from though and consider whether your nomadic lifestyle will have any tax implications for you personally. A good accountant can help advise on all this. 

The world is becoming a much more accessible place and for many jobs all you need is a laptop, a mobile device and a decent internet connection.  Today, you can work and study from anywhere in the world or even set up an e-commerce site that generates a passive income whilst you travel.

Why work remotely

The benefits of the remote working lifestyle are pretty clear: more time with your family, and living where you want to live. But there are more benefits you might not have thought of. There are plenty of people who have exchanged their office cubicle for a beach hut in, for example, Thailand. Earning the same income you have been used to and spending it in a country where the cost of living is considerably lower means a considerably higher standard of living than if you would have stayed at home. Even if you swap out a few months a year for a cheaper locale, it can seriously pad your savings. 

Is remote working the future?

Remote working could indeed be the future for many, but it fundamentally does not work across all jobs and industries. But nothing is perfect and there are disadvantages to consider. You might miss social interaction with colleagues, you might develop feelings of isolation when all the work you do is digital. Communication within your team can also suffer, and it is something you need to manage well. There are tools that help, but nothing quite beats a face to face chat. 

There may also be financial uncertainty involved with your remote lifestyle, particularly if you are a freelancer. Building up a stable source of income while you build your freelance business can alleviate this. One thing to consider if you are a home owners is to rent out your space, and use the proceeds to fund your rent (which is hopefully lower) abroad.

Is it worth the risk?

Changing jobs, or even transforming your career, doesn’t come without risk. Loss is something we’re all afraid of to one degree or another, and leaving a job without any way back is a huge fear. Particularly among academics, where there is a strong sentiment that once you leave, you can never return.

The concept of a stable job that is a “job for life” is now archaic, and even in academia it is becoming less and less the norm. In the private sector these types of jobs are also nearly completely wiped out and replaced with the likes of zero hour contracts. Add in to that legislation like “at will employment” (in California), and true job security hardly exists anyways. With that in mind, the jump to a remote job, or a freelance career, can seem a lot less daunting. 

Depending on the work you do, you are now also competing with freelancers around the world. People who are able to undercut your prices because they live in areas with much lower cost of living and average income. That’s not to say you can’t compete even as a freelancer. Often the people offering services at rock bottom prices are not offering the level of quality and customer service you are used to giving your clients. In addition, you have an established network you can continue to expand and this can become a source of new work. Understanding your client’s market, and country is as big an advantage as a perfect command of English is. “You get what you pay for” hold true, and while there are plenty of great professionals all over the world you will have your own unique value proposition. 

The remote working lifestyle can be an attractive option, but it’s important to be realistic about how challenging it can sometimes be to find work, make your business happen, and live a remote lifestyle.

That said, with so many compelling reasons to embrace the remote working lifestyle it’s often the case of “where there’s a will there’s a way” because the rewards you’ll get in return for your effort are so gratifying. 

Indeed, if you’re looking for the idea recipe in terms of making the remote working lifestyle work for you, then you’ll probably want to find a stable long-term contract that offers complete flexibility in terms of your location and working hours. This can become a great launch pad from which to build out your business further with some stability around income to boot. 

*Photo by Christin Hume
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Christine Buske is a former academic who left science at the bench, and now considers herself a woman in tech. She is a frequently invited speaker, and enjoys talking about career transformation (particularly leaving academia for the business world), tech, issues around women in tech, product management, agile, and outreach. She is a proud Canadian resident, and qualifies as a "serial expat".

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