Contributor: Jen Rhymer
For those looking to go into remote work, there are many ways to do that, and odds are some will be a good fit, while others may not. We discuss 7 broad categories of remote jobs here. The first is freelancing, the next three are more traditional employment arrangements with some flexibility, and the final three are modern perspectives that are growing in use. This article is a brief description of these various types of remote work, to find out more about how to build a remote company, join others managing teams and companies at the Running Remote Conference this June in Bali.
1 – Project-Based Work: A very common type of remote job is done by individual freelancers. Companies frequently hire individuals (or agencies) to work on a project basis, this may include a few meetings but generally, the work is done off-site and independent of the hiring organization. This type of arrangement supports remote work where the freelancer is in control of their own time and location. This is a great way for someone to test working remote and see if it is a good fit for them. However, this type of work often involves managing business development aspects and making sure there are contracts coming in, for some this means entrepreneurship and running a consultancy or agency for others it may mean participating in platforms such as Upwork, or for a few it may be long term contracts with single companies. While for those who want extreme flexibility this may be a wonderful way of working, for those interesting in the benefits of being an employee this category may be less appealing.
2 – Remote Friendly (flexible work): The second type of work has also been prevalent for a long time, but swings to the other end of the spectrum. Remote friendly, or flexible work, is the idea that an individual work for a company, likely has a set desk or office, but is allowed to work for home one or a couple of days a week. This is increasingly common among organizations and treated as a perk for employees. There is a lot of variety in how this is practiced, ranging from needing approval for the benefit as well as each day selected to work out of the office, to companies which have an open policy allowing employees to manage their own time. For those who are interested in having a significant amount of time in the office, and enjoy office culture, but want the occasional flexibility to have midday appointments, or heads downtime once a week, this is a category worth exploring.
3 – Remote Friendly (remote person): This category is similar to the previous category in that it is often classified as remote friendly, but instead of allowing people to be remote some of the types, this version of remote friendly allows some people to be fully remote. This is common for organizations that have a trusted employee who has worked in the office and for some reason now needs to move but it is mutually beneficial for them to maintain their job. For some roles, this may be hired from day one, but that is less common when a company is primarily office-based.
4 – Working from Home Full Time: Some companies expand the working from home full time to whole teams, divisions, or even the full organization. However, this category is particularly focused on those arrangements where a company requires individuals to be online for a fully specified 8+ hours a day and expect immediate replies. Often this setup includes monitoring software of some kind. In these organizations’ individuals can work from home but they are held to a strict schedule and location (their desk) so flexibility is limited. This can be great for those who are looking to eliminate a commute.
5 – Remote First: Remote first and remote friendly may seem very similar, but they differ in a very important philosophical way, which is that Remote First companies strive to have there be no difference in the company experience between those who work in the office and those who do not. Therefore, an organization can emphasize the idea of “remote first” while still having many employees in offices. This category is really exemplified by Atlassian, they strive to not create an advantage for working in an Atlassian building, specifying “home office” as one of their nine locations. This is a great organization for those who want to work remotely in an industry that requires some offices, but not for all roles. It can be challenging to distinguish between remote first and remote friendly companies, but engaging in conversation with employees and managers will hopefully provide insight into how remote and office-based individuals interact, collaborate on work, and experience company culture.
6 – Location Independent Teams: In between remote first and location independent organizations are location independent teams (or divisions). An example of this is Shopify who has corporate offices for many functions but a location independent 1500+ person customer happiness team. The members of this team have no offices or expectations for their location. These teams are highly flexible, although not necessarily spontaneous, meaning while an individual has autonomy overall, schedules may be set in advance to ensure team level coherence. Location independent work is great for people who are motivated to produce the outputs required of them, able to communicate effectively, and are ok without the in-person office community.
7 – Location independent organizations: The final category is the very extreme version of remote work and remote organizations, namely location independent organizations. These companies having no physical location at all and each individual working from wherever they choose. An example of this is Doist, a company with over 60 employees in 24+ counties, through the use of asynchronous coordination they are able to work without spending huge amounts of time engaging in real-time communication, increasing the flexibility possible for all employees no matter where they are or when they like to work. This is specifically a very narrow definition as there is clarity in dividing up the various categories and through the differences being able to better understand the benefits and challenges of each style.
Each style of remote job has benefits and challenges, and it is about finding the right fit for you, and recognizing that this may change over time. If you had negative remote experiences previously, consider what type of remote work it was and if it was the best fit for you. Perhaps a different style of remote working would resolve the issues that occurred before.
To learn more about how companies are engaging these various styles of remote work check out the Running Remote Conference, and with code ‘gogoplaces’ get 20% off. Not all types of remote work are a good fit for everyone but if remote work seems appealing it is worth figuring out how to make it for you, your team, and your company.