Once upon a time, companies feared remote work was counter-productive to healthy company culture. But a few years on from the “great remote work experiment” of the pandemic, multiple studies have confirmed that allowing employees more autonomy over how, when, and where they work positively impacts both employees and employers alike.
Today, remote work has become a popular buzzword across the tech industry and beyond. We’re seeing more remote opportunities crop up on popular job boards, and more companies describe themselves as “fully remote”.
But what exactly does remote work entail? And how do you successfully work remotely?
In this blog post, we’ll uncover everything you need to know about remote work. We’ll look at which companies are pioneering remote work cultures, and leave you with practical tips for optimizing your remote work setup.
- What does remote work mean?
- What are the benefits of remote work?
- Popular remote work jobs
- Best remote work companies to work for in 2024
- How to work remotely
Ready? Let’s dive in!
1. What does remote work mean?
At its core, remote work refers to any work that doesn’t require a physical presence in an office space.
In the past, remote work has been synonymous with working from home (WFH). But in recent years, it’s evolved into a blanket term for working anywhere outside of a traditional office setting. That could mean your couch, a co-working space, or a sunny far-away beach in another country.
In other words, it’s wherever you can get the work done—as long as you have reliable internet access and the necessary tools or set-up.
Remote working can take several forms, including:
- Full remote in which virtually all interactions take place online
- Partial remote (also known as “hybrid working”), where teams split up some of their time across multiple offices.
Most companies have their own definition of remote working, which they’ll usually specify on their website or job descriptions. For example, some companies offer remote-first work—but you still have to reside in a certain country or city.
To learn more, check out our blog post on Remote work vs. WFH vs. Hybrid work.
2. What are the benefits of remote work?
Like any working arrangement, remote work doesn’t necessarily suit everyone. But it’s the flexibility that makes remote work such an attractive option for so many.
Let’s look at some of the biggest benefits of remote work.
Productivity among remote workers vs. in-office workers has been the subject of hot debate in recent years. Luckily, multiple studies have investigated productivity levels—and the numbers don’t lie.
A 2022 study by Owl Labs found that remote and hybrid employees were 22% happier than workers in an onsite office environment and could focus better than in traditional office settings—which led to increased productivity levels.
Having complete autonomy over how and where you work means crafting the perfect environment for peak productivity. That means fewer distractions, less temptation to procrastinate, and full reign to work (and rest) according to your fluctuating energy levels throughout the day.
This freedom allows remote workers to maximize their productivity while avoiding burnout.
Everyone’s commute to work looks different. But for some professionals, saving money has been one of the biggest drivers for going remote. Between train tickets, filling up the car tank, and the cheeky coffee (or two) plus lunch you get throughout the day: The cost of commuting can well and truly add up.
In some cases, these expenses also apply to remote work. Some professionals choose to invest in co-working spaces or private offices (and, let’s face it, getting a coffee is a must for many—office or not).
But for remote workers who choose to work primarily from home, not commuting has meant they can save a sizeable chunk of their paychecks—and spend the money where it matters most, like investing in a nice local gym or decking out their home office with the latest tech.
Inclusive work culture
It’s no secret that office life isn’t for everyone, and remote work has been hailed as a saving grace for individuals who don’t necessarily thrive in traditional office settings. This includes neurodivergent people, people who suffer from social anxiety, and even those who consider themselves introverts.
Many neurodivergent folk have spoken out about struggling with office life due to sensory overload, noise or light levels sensitivity, or the pressure of mirroring social cues.
Flexible and remote working arrangements mean people can customize their environment to meet their needs and focus on output without feeling like they have to mask their natural behavior. A 2021 study found that remote work also helped reduce absenteeism and increase employment among neurodiverse employees.
Maintaining an optimum work-life balance isn’t easy when you feel like most of your energy is expended in the office. This is where remote work really shines.
Remote working offers more flexibility when it comes to creating a schedule that works best for you.
With the time saved from your commute, you can set stricter boundaries with work and spend more time on hobbies or socializing outside of regular working hours. This makes remote work especially attractive for parents and carers, who have more flexibility to attend appointments or school runs throughout the day.
What’s more, it’s easier to prioritize your mental health when you can take breaks whenever you feel like you need one (without feeling like your boss is taking note).
Opportunities for travel
One of the best things about remote work is freedom of movement. Without being tied down to one place, nothing is stopping you from taking your work on the road. As long as you have a laptop and stable internet connection, you can join the growing “digital nomad” movement of seeing the world whilst maintaining a full-time remote job.
Plus, there are lots of coworking spaces around the world that offer great amenities and can help make remote workers feel at home, no matter where they are.
It’s worth repeating that remote work looks different for every company. Some remote companies require you to stay within a particular country, region, or time zone to ensure you’ll be online within set hours.
But no matter the policy, remote work means you don’t have to use precious vacation days just to get a change of scenery.
3. Popular remote work jobs
Now that we’re all on the same page about why remote work is so great, you might wonder: Which career paths are most compatible with remote work? 3. Popular remote work jobs
Generally speaking, any job can be done remotely if a) that’s the agreement you have with your employer, and b) all you need to get your job done is a laptop and a stable internet connection. But there are some roles, especially in tech, that will open more remote doors for you than others.
Let’s explore five of the most popular remote work jobs in more detail.
UX designers are responsible for the usability of a digital product. They collaborate and provide feedback on the best user experience, usually to improve product designs, usability, and user engagement.
Due to its highly collaborative and versatile nature, you might assume that UX design isn’t compatible with remote work. On the contrary, there are more remote opportunities for UX designers today than ever before.
Not only have there been huge advancements in UX tools (like Balsamiq, Figma, and Maze) that make remote UX work possible, an increasing number of UX designers are turning to remote work as a way to optimize their creative flow.
Data analysts are organized problem solvers who synthesize information and turn it into actionable insights. In addition to being highly rewarding and well-paid, data analytics is one of the best career paths for remote work.
Data analytics is a highly autonomous field that requires minimal collaboration—all the characteristics that make working remotely particularly attractive for those who prefer little distraction. Some data analysts even specialize in remote work, using remote tools and technologies like cloud storage to access the data they need from various locations.
Web developers have the exciting job of building engaging, usable websites and applications.
Like data analytics, web development requires a lot of focused, independent work like debugging and problem-solving—all of which require focused, distraction-free environments, which lends itself to remote working.
What’s more, web developers have been working remotely since before it was cool—and the remote work trend among developers has skyrocketed since the pandemic. In fact, a 2022 survey by Jamstack Community recorded that 62% of developers work fully remote, with 83% working remotely for at least half of the time. We delve deeper into this topic in our guide to becoming a remote web developer.
Digital marketing specialist
Digital marketers combine creativity and strategy to target audiences and drive revenue through digital channels. Since they work primarily with online channels, like search engines and social media, digital marketing is a solid career choice for remote work.
Digital marketers can do a variety of tasks remotely; like creating campaigns, writing and optimizing content, and tracking performance metrics. Some of the best-in-class marketing tools, like Hubspot or Salesforce, have also evolved to facilitate remote work and collaboration.
Product managers are strategic team professionals responsible for the entire lifecycle of a product, from ideation to development to launch (and sometimes even beyond).
Product managers are highly organized and rely heavily on project management tools like Asana or Monday and collaboration tools like Miro or Zoom to manage remote teams across multiple time zones.
Remote product management is a win-win situation for all involved; it allows companies to access top talent without worrying about geographic or political borders while allowing product managers greater flexibility in their day-to-day operations.
4. Best remote companies to work for in 2024
As tech companies wake up to the financial benefits of distributed and borderless teams, the list of remote-friendly companies is growing longer every day. While some companies allow remote work, others actively champion it.
Remote work is so popular now that there are a number of job portals dedicated to the concept, such as:
Now let’s take a look at some of the best remote tech companies to work for.
Toptal, a marketplace for exclusive freelance tech talent, is one of the largest remote-first companies in the industry. Flexible time off, regular events and meet-ups, and even an annual subscription to the Calm app are just a few examples of the benefits they offer to remote employees.
Given that they help tech companies scale up with high-quality remote freelance talent, Toptal knows what it takes to run a remote company better than most.
Tech bootcamp CareerFoundry is helping the next generation of tech innovators forge successful careers. They offer self-paced courses from a range of in-demand disciplines, including UX design, web development, and data analytics.
CareerFoundry offers remote-first work to all their German employees, with the option to work abroad for up to six months out of every year. On top of their inclusive working culture and generous annual leave allowance, they’re even experimenting with a four-day working week.
Software company Atlassian was founded in 2002 and has quickly become a leader in remote work. With over 5,000 employees, autonomy over where and how you work is deeply embedded into the Atlassian culture.
Benefits include paid volunteering, relaxation, and sabbaticals for long-time employees. The company also has some offices which local employees can use at their leisure.
With over 500 employees living in 17 time zones and across 28 countries, Zapier has made a name for itself as the gold standard of remote-first company cultures.
Zapier employees have access to an away of perks—think unlimited vacation policy and stellar health benefits. Plus, all new hires have an immersive remote onboarding experience, where they get up close and personal with everything from product knowledge to business strategy.
Social media tool Buffer is a shining example of what remote work can look like. With benefits such as unlimited vacation days, weekly team check-ins, flexible working hours, annual international retreats, and the increasingly popular four-day week, Buffer has spared no expense in ensuring that their remote workers feel supported.
5. How to work remotely
So far, we’ve explored exactly what remote work means and why it’s a popular choice among today’s tech workers. But a common question people ask is, how do you actually make the most of remote work?
It’s easy to assume working remotely will come naturally to you. In reality, if you’re not intentional about how you work remotely, remote work can be just as strenuous or distracting as in-office work.
Worry not: We’re here to set you up for success with these five easy best practices.
Optimize your setup
Optimizing your environment is the first way to set yourself up for remote working success. Not everyone has the space for a separate at-home office, so it’s up to you to figure out where you work best, whether that’s a co-working space, your kitchen table, or a different environment every day.
For those opting to work primarily from home, it might be tempting to bring your laptop into bed with you—but the less distinction there is between where you work and where you relax, the harder it’ll be to set clear boundaries when it comes to your work-life balance.
Some remote workers have opted to “zone” their homes into different spaces, with a dedicated desk or corner they only sit in when it’s time to jump online. Note that it might take a few months of experimenting with different environments to get it right!
Understand how you work best
Once you’ve figured out where you work best, next up is to establish how you work best.
As we explored in the previous section, remote work means complete autonomy over how you work. Some people find they’re more productive in the morning and switch off after lunchtime. Others prefer to have the mornings to themselves and schedule a few power hours later in the day.
Similarly, some people find that they’re energized by others—whereas others struggle to focus in social settings like cafés. Some people need background noise to concentrate, whereas others need complete silence. Some like to work in short bursts with regular breaks, whereas others need longer blocks of focus time.
Understanding the environmental factors that contribute to (or hinder) your “flow” state is an important step in transitioning to remote work.
Remote working doesn’t always mean working solo—you might still have a highly collaborative job that sees your schedule jam-packed with meetings. For others, one of the biggest challenges of working remotely is feeling isolated or out of touch with coworkers (or other humans in general).
Especially when you’re working from home, it can go easy to go a few days without human interaction. Luckily, there are more tools than ever to keep connected with colleagues (without succumbing to the dreaded Zoom fatigue). No matter your job title, regular phone calls and coffee chats help everyone to stay in sync and on the same page.
Establish a routine
It can be hard to stay motivated when there’s no one around to hold you accountable for getting things done, so it’s important to establish consistent daily routines that will help keep you on track—even when distractions arise.
Simple acts like waking up at the same time each day, listing your tasks in a diary, and time-blocking projects can help you stay on top of your workload without it bleeding into your “you time”.
It’s also important to avoid the trap of feeling like you have to do more simply because you’re not in the office. When setting out your daily tasks, try to be as realistic as possible.
Make it fun
You might be so busy trying to prove to your boss (or yourself) that you’re even more productive working remotely that you forget to enjoy the perks. To that end, our last piece of advice is to try and make the most of it!
Allow yourself to do something fun for yourself or your mental health each day, whether that’s cooking yourself your favorite meal at lunch, going for a leisurely walk before work, or simply closing your laptop as soon as your work is finished.
You likely sought remote work for a reason, so make sure you’re reaping the benefits in the long run and making it work for you.
From technological advancements to a fluctuating economy, we live in a time of immense change and shifting global paradigms. Now, more than ever, we collectively recognize the importance of flexible working arrangements—which is great news for professionals who want to switch to remote work full-time.
Whatever your motivations for going remote, there are more opportunities than ever before. You just have to figure out which remote tech career path is right for you, which you can do with a free five-day short course.
For an idea of what life as a remote worker might look like, check out this video, where UX professional Maureen runs through her typical day.
If you enjoyed this blog post, check out these related reads: