Although an office space offers a productive environment away from home, many employees are looking to ditch in-person positions. Commuting, office politics, and busy schedules can make going to work stressful, and remote work offers a reprieve.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies and their workforces to adapt to remote work. But the trend established a new normal: an estimated 36.2 million American workers will work exclusively from home by 2025. That’s 29 million more than before the pandemic.
Remote jobs are redefining future careers. If you’re interested in joining the trend and working from home, start exploring how to get a remote job, how to interview for online positions, and websites to help your remote job search.
What are the pros of remote work?
If you’ve ever thought about working for yourself from home or getting a job that lets you work remotely, weigh out the pros and cons first. Here are a few pros of remote work:
1. More free time
In 2019, the average commute time was at nearly 30 minutes each way, an all-time high. Full-time office work translates to almost five hours a week — or 10 full days a year — sitting in a car or on public transport.
Working from home saves this time and lets you focus on things that matter outside of work. Use it to find a better work-life balance, have fun with free time activities, or improve your sleep hygiene and get some rest.
2. Option to travel or relocate
Some fully remote roles have flexible hours that aren’t specific to a single timezone. You may be able to move to a city with a lower cost of living or relocate to a suburban or rural area with a more relaxed quality of life.
If you find a remote job that allows it, you can also travel and experience working from different countries.
3. Increased creativity
According to BetterUp research, many workers experience a boost in creativity when working from home. They feel they can do their jobs more effectively and come up with more innovative ideas.
You might find it easier to participate in virtual conversations than in in-person meetings, which also aids creativity. The familiar feeling of home could also put you at ease and give you the energy to develop ideas that grow against the grain.
What are the cons of remote work?
Before starting a brand new work model, consider the challenges remote working can have on your life. The freedom and at-home setting don’t work for everyone. Here are a few obstacles that come with remote jobs:
1. Steeper learning curves
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for learning. Remote training and employee onboarding processes are some of the biggest challenges for human resource departments. Remote employees might grow into their careers or lean into their new roles at a slower pace.
Plus, not all workflows flourish in remote environments, and online work can stunt knowledge sharing. Some people prefer to gain knowledge through hands-on through observation and face-to-face communications.
And interacting with workspace knowledge — information specific to your company — and learning professional skills takes extra effort in remote settings.
2. Home office costs
Working from home sounds like a dream — slip out of bed and straight to your desk. But it isn’t that simple. Your workspace is integral to productivity, and the costs of building a good work-from-home setup add up if your employer doesn’t compensate you for them.
At minimum, you’ll need a computer, desk, and comfortable chair. You might want extras like high-quality headphones, a monitor, and a keyboard and mouse. Most workplaces also require a strong WiFi connection so you can participate in Zoom calls without hiccups.
If you’re interested in developing a remote career as an independent contractor, all these costs — and their maintenance — will fall on you, which gets expensive. You’ll have to factor them into your prices if you set your own freelance rates.
3. Strained work-life balance
In the past few years, 40% of workers say their workdays have grown longer, making it harder to unplug and balance work with personal responsibilities. Hustle culture and remote work normalize always working long hours.
With an online job, it’s easy to respond to work emails after hours, prepare lunch while meeting with coworkers, and spend late nights and weekends staring at computer screens.
But blurring the line between the personal and professional can fuel toxic work environments and make you feel guilty about taking a moment to rest or logging off when your work’s done.
Popular remote jobs
The future of work is changing, and virtual jobs include everything from customer service to healthcare. Here are some of the best work-from-home jobs and their industries, according to McKinsey. Keep in mind that remote work isn’t limited to the positions below.
1. Business and financial operations
Business and financial operations include a wide variety of jobs for different skill levels and backgrounds. Some businesses, like ecommerce stores, operate completely online, while others complete administrative and logistical tasks virtually.
Remote jobs in this industry include the following positions:
Business operations specialists
Accountants and bookkeepers
Business development representatives
2. Computer science and mathematics
As the name suggests, jobs in math and computer science usually require extensive education and training. But since most of these careers only require a computer, they suit remote workspaces well.
Computer science careers include the following:
3. Media and design
Creative people often thrive when working from home because they have the freedom to explore new ideas and methods by themselves. With the rise of digital arts and social media, there are lots of online jobs in this industry.
Work-from-home jobs in media and design include the following:
Social media managers
How to find a remote job: 6 websites
There are hundreds of virtual job boards, but not all of them offer remote-specific postings or ways to filter out in-person listings. Here are six of the best websites to simplify your job search and help you find a remote position.
Flexjobs is a job board site with freelance, part-time, and full-time remote and hybrid work. Their most popular job categories are computer and IT, marketing, accounting and finance, project management, medical and health, HR and recruiting, and customer service.
Within those sections, you can filter by the criteria that matter most to you.
Pros: Job listings include managerial and senior-level positions, which can boost your career growth.
Cons: You need a pro membership to access information like salary, benefits, and contact information. Flexjobs also has very few opportunities for entry-level applicants.
2. We Work Remotely
We Work Remotely hosts remote companies and organizations with fully remote job opportunities. Employers post over 1,000 remote jobs every single month. Its most popular categories are programming, sales, marketing, design, and customer support.
Pros: The platform only posts fully remote jobs. It flags and removes even hybrid jobs.
Cons: Job postings don’t follow a single template, so it might be harder to find important information like compensation and benefits.
Upwork is a job listing website designed for freelance contractors. It’s one of the world’s largest remote job sites, ideal for creative professions like graphic design, web and mobile development, and content creation. Keep in mind that positions on this site are contract or freelance — not full-time.
Pros: The platform is ideal for remote workers seeking flexibility. It’s best for side hustles and gigs, although there is potential to find long-term regular clients.
Cons: While there are thousands of online job posts, there’s also a lot of competition from low bidders and job mills. The platform also requires on-site contracts, billing, invoicing, and mediation. Since Upwork takes a cut, you won’t earn as much money.
4. Virtual Vocations
Virtual Vocations scours remote job boards and curates 3,500 job posts weekly from this search. Its top categories include sales, account management, and business operations. On your account, you can save jobs and apply to them later, or hide jobs that don’t interest you.
Pros: Job postings go through a vetting and verification process. Handy filters like location and time zones are helpful for mobile remote workers.
Cons: You need a membership — $19.99 per month — to access important information like location and compensation.
LinkedIn, a professional social networking site, has 900 million members across 200 countries — and those members include thousands of hiring managers and recruiters.
The platform creates an aggregate of jobs based on your LinkedIn profile and search history, but you can also set filters with preferred industries, job titles, and skills. LinkedIn can also send relevant opportunities to your inbox.
Pros: Postings automatically expire after one month, which limits the pool to up-to-date remote positions. You can also cold connect on LinkedIn to gain more contacts and network in your field.
Cons: There are fewer opportunities for entry-level and part-time positions. And since its user base is so large, some remote jobs are competitive.
Wellfound, formerly known as AngelList Talent, is a job posting site for start-ups. It hosts 130,000 jobs, including many flexible and remote job listings. The platform is free and ideal for people looking to join start-ups and fast-growing companies.
Pros: Companies go through a vetting process, and Wellfound requires them to provide salary ranges. Plus, there are features to upload your resume, set salary and equity preferences, and allow recruiters to reach out directly to you to set up job interviews.
Cons: Wellfound is a niche job posting website, and the pool of jobs is limited mostly to tech jobs.
4 tips for getting a remote job
Getting a remote job is similar to getting a regular job. You’ll apply, set up an interview, and complete any relevant evaluations and tests — it just happens totally online. Here are four tips for landing a remote job once you find positions that interest you.
1. Prepare your resume
A resume that stands out immediately tells a hiring manager whether you have the skills and experience to perform the job. Remote work has less hands-on assistance, so hiring managers want to know that you have the skills to stay on task independently.
Include work experiences and abilities relevant to the job post, and write hard and soft skills in each description that relate to the nature of remote work, like time management, organization, and communication skills.
2. Digitize your documents
In many remote positions, you might never meet your coworkers or supervisors in person, even during the hiring process. If you write your resume and cover letter in Word doc, convert it to PDF format to make it easier to share.
Likewise, if you work in media, design, or content creation, build a professional portfolio and personal website to present samples of your work online.
Many workplaces use an applicant tracking system (ATS), so write documents that artificial intelligence can understand. Include keywords from the listing and avoid using tables or complicated layouts to prevent algorithms from rejecting your application.
3. Practice the interview
Even if your interview isn’t in person, act professional — it’s still a job interview, even if it’s online. For video calls, use an uncluttered background and wear a business-ready shirt. Try testing your internet connection with a friend before your interview to make sure your voice and image are both clear.
4. Follow up
Send a follow-up after your interview thanking the person for their time. If you’re still interested in the position, let them know, and reiterate your skills and experience.
Showing gratitude is always a great idea, and taking the time to follow up shows your sense of values, integrity, and drive — all qualities that are valuable to a remote position.
Be free, remote one
Not everyone thrives in a traditional office environment. Luckily, the work-from-home trend is here to stay. It could be the opportunity you need to grow stronger as a professional and find the balance in life you strive for.
Figuring out how to get a remote job is getting easier. Research the job boards that fit your experience and industry, weigh out the pros and cons, and remember that online jobs are still jobs — keep it professional.