What the heck is ‘remote work’? Is a job that lets you work from home on Fridays ‘remote work’? Is a freelancer building a website for a client as supplemental income ‘remote work’? Is your designer working in Romania doing ‘remote work’? Unfortunately – the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these. How confusing… We need a better categorization of ‘remote jobs’.
Categories of remote jobs
Not all remote jobs are created equal. To break down the generic term of ‘remote job’ – let’s define 3 classes of remote jobs to get on the same page:
- ‘Work from home’ remote jobs: These jobs are pretending to be ‘remote’ – but really they are perks of an onsite job. This is ‘work from home Fridays’ or ‘satellite offices’ or companies that have a policy that simply lets folks work from home on occasion – but it’s expected that they are in the office for the majority of their working career. Companies tend to be trendy and offer this type of flexibility – but in reality – it’s not truly a part of their culture and secretly the managers hate people that work from home too often (they assume you’re on the golf course). This is not the future of remote work.
- Freelancer remote jobs: These are 100% remote jobs – but they are freelancers and other ‘on-demand’ roles. These positions are typically considered part of the ‘gig-economy’ and suffer from the friction of a marketplace. In a marketplace, you typically have to bid on jobs, which – on a global basis – tends to depress the price/hour (yes – that person in Vietnam is willing to work less than you are – and be happy with it). The bid/ask system also creates wild fluctuations in your income, has uncertainty and is project-by-project vs a long-term career. The projects also tend to be tactical and low skill roles. This is also not the future of remote work – but as Upwork has proven – there are a lot of people willing to work nights/weekends to supplement their income.
- Authentic remote jobs: This is the future of remote work – 100% remote, full-time / 40 hr/w roles, transparent wage rate, career/growth-oriented, all workers use both remote communication & connection tools, goals/metrics are clear, tasks are able to be completed asynchronously and the company has a remote culture. These are the Rolls Royce of all remote jobs – and what we all aspire to get. These roles will continue to grow exponentially and will have a massive impact on the global economy.
Diving into the details of Authentic remote jobs
The true remote job has no borders. This isn’t ‘can be anywhere – as long as it’s on the East Coast of the US’. Real remote jobs are global. Let me repeat – they are GLOBAL. And they are this way to find the best person in the WORLD for the position – not the best person in your zip code.
Full time, 40 hours/week
Authentic remote jobs are not part-time nor on a bid/ask marketplace system. I’ve never seen a critical position in a company or a key player be ‘transactional’ and only show up part of the time. Additionally – the best in the world already have full-time roles – and they’re looking to put their entire brain/efforts into the next challenge.
Transparent wage rate
Despite the touchy/feely comments people make about their motivations for a job, at the end of the day, money matters – and the best Authentic remote jobs are transparent on what the wage rate is in the job description. According to a recent study by Glassdoor – money is the #1 motivator for 67% of job seekers. Remote or not remote – wage rate matters – so be transparent and include them in the job description.
Though money is a motivator – the best in the world are also looking for intellectual challenges that enhance their careers. This is consistent on remote and non-remote jobs – but even more enhanced when the job seeker now has an infinite number or job opportunities available to them – not just the selection in their zip code.
Use remote communication & connection tools
Many companies have video conferencing and collaboration tools – but ironically – companies that are not ‘remote-first’ fail to use them properly. Managers have to ‘remember’ to post that file on Google drive, the team doesn’t use video in the meetings, everything is synchronous, etc, etc. Authentic Remote jobs are only in companies that treat remote workers as equals.
Success goals & metrics
In a typical office job – if a role isn’t terribly well defined – you can walk around and ask your colleagues and manager to help nudge you in the right direction. In 100% remote jobs – this is much more difficult and the definition of success needs to be more clearly laid out. What are the goals, how is the work itself done, what are the objective metrics, what is the expected calendar are all important to clarify. All Authentic Remote jobs have these characteristics – so success or failure is clear and transparent.
Asynch has also become a bit of a buzzword in the remote world. But the importance of it remains – Authentic Remote jobs have to be able to be done without dependence on synchronization. Unlike everyone huddled in an office – the remote worker needs to be able to complete a majority of the task on their own – in their own time. This doesn’t mean the remote worker doesn’t collaborate with others – it simply means the task itself can be broken down to individual components that the remote worker can complete on their own (with very little dependence on others).
True Authentic Remote jobs are in companies that are ‘remote-first’. This isn’t ‘work from home Fridays’ – it’s a proper understanding of how to build their company structure for remote organization, how to manage and cluster timezones of remote workers, how to understand the power deltas between office workers vs remote workers (ideally there are no physical offices), how to build culture remotely, how to bridge cultural gaps, and how to define roles to be clear/async/measurable.
Examples of Authentic Remote jobs from remote-first companies
Companies such as HotJar offer remote positions and check all the items on our list: they have a remote culture, they are fully remote, employ people from any region as long as the time-zone allows them to be aligned with other team members, offers employment contract for talent in specific countries or contractor agreement for the rest, paid holidays, team collaboration allowance, holiday budget, etc. That is the true remote vision and Authentic Remote jobs.
On the other side – companies like DataDog offer some remote positions, are open to offering 100% remote work, but employees need to live in the US or other areas where the company has offices. It lacks the remote culture, it does not have a fully distributed/remote team. Even if some of the offered jobs are remote, according to the classification above, the lack of remote culture makes those jobs simply flexible jobs, not Authentic Remote jobs.
Going back to the beginning – to get to the end state where the term ‘remote jobs’ evolves to be ‘all jobs’ – we need to be clear on our definitions and what we’re trying to expand. Specifically – employers – develop more Authentic Remote jobs as they are the future of work…