Remote work is an increasingly common part of the jobs sector — in 2015, Gallup reported than 37 percent of American workers have telecommuted. Remote professionals do their jobs from anywhere with an internet connection, making it possible to travel or stay at home without sacrificing an income. Before you indulge in your dreams of working from a beach in Thailand, however, be sure to consider the job realities.
For professionals who don't respond well to the structure and strict schedule of a traditional office job, freedom is often the main draw of remote work. Telecommuting or freelancing from home offers a great deal of flexibility. When you're not tied to business hours, you can work any time that suits you or break up your hours into smaller chunks throughout the day. You can work on the couch in your pajamas or complete assignments between tourist activities in a foreign country. However, with that freedom comes a dramatically increased need for discipline. Without a boss to impose and enforce deadlines, you must plan and execute work on time, or risk losing clients. For people without self-regulation, this transition can be a challenge.
When it comes to remote work, one of the most jarring changes from office life is the absence of co-workers. It's just you and your computer — there's no one around to chat with during coffee breaks or slow periods. This isolation can lead to an intense sense of loneliness, particularly for extroverts. In some cases, you might find that the lack of casual conversation and interaction stifles creativity, inspiration or motivation. Fortunately, technology makes it easy to overcome the inherent loneliness of remote work. Using tools such as FaceTime and Google Hangouts, you can connect with colleagues and clients for meetings, interviews and brainstorming sessions. As an extra benefit, video conferencing can help you create stronger relationships with clients and reinforce your status as part of the company team.
Some professionals make the switch to remote work with the desire to achieve a better work-life balance. They assume that as remote workers, they can stop working at any time to attend family events or cultivate a social life. One of the realities of a digital nomad lifestyle is that it can be surprisingly difficult to check out completely. When your "office" consists of your computer, tablet and phone, work is always within arm's reach. This is particularly true if you work for yourself, since your income depends entirely on productivity. As a result, you might find yourself responding to work emails or racing to meet deadlines instead of relaxing with a book or going out with friends.
Like any other job situation, remote work comes with both benefits and drawbacks. Before you make the leap from a traditional office job, take time to understand the job realities and determine if they suit your personality and preferences.
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