Virtually Perfect: Remote Work Is Becoming The New Corner Office Virtually Perfect: Remote Work Is Becoming The New Corner Office As a society, our definition of career success is changing. Recent studies have shown a big shift in what we consider to be important measures of success. More people are now aiming for work/life balance, control over their day, and pursuing projects and careers they are passionate about, over gunning for a huge paycheck or coveted title. In fact, an overwhelming 90% of people interviewed in a recent survey said that they believe success is more about happiness than power, possessions, or prestige combined. (Kind of restores your faith in humanity, doesn’t it?) And this shifting definition of success is having a noticeable effect on the modern workplace. The focus on self-fulfillment is driving more people away from corporate cubicles and 9 to 5’s and into remote work. But, there are still too many people feeling like there’s got to be a better way; feeling stuck. A lot of this has to do with fear of leaving the perceived “comfort and security” of a corporate on-site job, and the false associations that still surround working remotely: that it is one and the same as the “gig economy” or freelance and it’s only really an available option if you work for a silicon valley startup or multi-level marketing company. "An overwhelming 90% of people interviewed in a recent survey said that they believe success is more about happiness than power, possessions, or prestige combined" These are outdated pretenses. Virtual work has changed significantly over the last few years—breaking barriers and challenging traditions—really, making itself the new corner office. What other false assumptions surround working remotely? Remote work is “less than” When someone asks me what I do, this is how the conversation normally goes: Person A: “What do you do?” Me: “I am a Marketing Manager.” Person A: “Oh cool, where do you work?” Me: “I work for a remote staffing company that operates all over the country, so I work remote.” Person A: “Oh, nice. So you get to, like, wear your pajamas and watch TV. That must be so nice!” Me: “*Rolls eyes* and lets out a deep sigh of frustration.” Really though, I don’t fault Person A. If you’ve never worked remotely, you can easily fall prey to believing it’s somehow all slippers and talk shows (I’ve worked from home for four years, and my mom still calls me at 3pm to see if I’m watching Ellen). But let me actually walk you through a typical day: 7:30 – Biking to my coworking space (I like the variety of mixing it up and working from home some days or part days and coworking at other times. ) 8am – Checking and responding to emails and Slack messages from my team in the UK (since it’s their afternoon) 9am – Meeting with a partner to discuss collaboration opportunities 10am – Writing a guest blog for a partner publication 11am – Social media strategy and posts 12pm – Quick lunch at my desk 12:30pm – Reviewing/editing pitches from our Marketing Assistant and sending them to media 1pm – A call with tech team on setting up a new landing page 1:30pm – Planning and outlining our upcoming Facebook Live 2:30pm – Writing and preparing a newsletter for send out to our clients 3:30pm – Making edits to the guest blog I wrote earlier, finding the perfect image and sending it to publication 4pm – Planning for next week, answering final emails and wrapping up the day Sounds pretty typical of a normal job, doesn’t it? You can see here, I didn’t quite have time to fit in Ellen (sorry, mom, I’ll record it) or painting my nails. And that’s because a virtual job is done exactly the same as a regular job. Although, every now and then I do throw in a walk with the dog, but that’s a perk for another story… Today’s technology has made it possible, easier even, to work and collaborate remotely. When you think of virtual work, don’t think “less than” think “more productive than” or “more balanced than.” And when someone tells you they work virtually, just give em’ a high five. There’s no stability/it’s too risky For a really long time, virtual work has been solely associated with freelance or the “gig economy.” And while it’s true that many gig workers work virtually, that’s not the full story anymore. A lot of great companies are moving to a fully remote model for their employees—including my company Worldwide101, and even huge companies like Dell, Salesforce, American Express and Xerox. These virtual employees have the same benefits and pay grades that you’d find for their corporate counterparts (and sometimes even cooler ones—hello company retreats! We’ll discuss those in a few…) The work will be boring or mundane This is another bogus notion about virtual work. There’s still the idea floating around that if you work virtually, it must be in admin, customer service or sales. That’s simply not true. There are hoards of people actually leaving high-level positions at Fortune 500 companies to pursue diverse projects they’re passionate about in a remote setting—this includes marketing, project management, bookkeeping, consulting, development, the list goes on. In fact, we recently interviewed some of our team at Worldwide101 in an effort to find out why they chose to work virtually. We thought it might help us understand a better way to form our messaging and attract great new candidates for our team. We really thought the obvious answers would be the front-runners (aka flexibility, the chance to work at home, no commute) but we were incredibly surprised that the number one answer we got was “continual learning.” All of our team echoed the same response—the diversity of their work, the fact that they got to work with different clients, in different industries, and learn different tools everyday was their favorite perk. I think this says a lot about today’s work culture and the obvious rise in the demand for interesting opportunities. We all naturally crave knowledge, and working virtually for a host of different people or companies provides a way to learn about areas and industries you may never have had a chance to work in otherwise. The constant changing environment and demand of your work keeps things exciting and keeps you engaged, which is really what we all want in our jobs, right? "For example, Buffer, who holds an annual company retreat, also offers optional “mini-meetups” for about a week for their team members in similar geographic areas" “I’ll be so lonely” Extroverts—don’t feel left out. You, too, can make virtual work a reality. Today’s great virtual companies understand the urge for human connection in the workplace, and have adapted to create really great ways for their team to connect and build an inclusive remote culture. For example, Buffer, who holds an annual company retreat, also offers optional “mini-meetups” for about a week for their team members in similar geographic areas. Basecamp holds corporate retreats twice a year for their whole team as well. MeetEdgar offers a stipend to their team if they want to join a coworking space, and Helpscout offers a personal development stipend to attend conferences. But even without traveling, there are creative ways to stay personal. At our company, we have a stuffed dog mascot named Pugsy. Pugsy travels the globe to visit all our different team members, and does a lot of exploring in each location. Our team takes photos of Pugsy on his adventures, and we share them in a monthly newsletter (based on the photos, our team guesses where Pugsy has been for a sweet prize.) We also have a channel on Slack called “The Watercooler” to just share pictures of our kids and dogs, funny memes, Game of Thrones banter (no spoilers of course) the list goes on. It’s a great way stay connected in a personal way, to get to know your remote coworkers, their personality and quirks—all of which make you more effective teams. I can’t find a good remote job You can. There are a million great resources out there for you to get started. Sites like Flexjobs, RemoteJobr, Jobespresso, remote.co all focus on listing legitimate, quality remote jobs for flexibility seekers—and that’s just a few. Virtual work is the way of the future, and new opportunities are popping up everyday, so don’t get stuck in the last false notion that you can’t find a great remote job. Audrey Fairbrother Audrey Fairbrother is the Marketing Manager for Worldwide101, a premium virtual assistant company connecting demanding founders and executives with highly skilled, meticulously matched help.