Loose your desk - working nomads

Remote working is emerging as an alternative that guarantees flexibility, for those who don’t like monotony

Updated - July 14, 2017 01:44 pm IST

Published - July 05, 2017 08:43 pm IST

A day at work Connectivity is all you need to work remotely

A day at work Connectivity is all you need to work remotely

Gor Narang, 28, broke away from the conventional office routine last year, to travel and work. Ever since, he has covered 12 cities in 11 different countries spanning Europe, Asia, and South America, without compromising on his work. “I wanted to engage in work that fits into my desired lifestyle, and not fashion a lifestyle that revolves around work,” he says. A thought that many millennials today have taken to.

Recalls Narang, “While working in a conventional set-up involved a drag routine of wearily plodding into the workplace adorning a shirt and a tie, and spending most of the day staring at a computer and crunching numbers, now, my weekday evenings involve watching the sunset from a lookout, dining with friends at an unfamiliar restaurant, grabbing a drink at a nearby pub, catching a local sporting or musical event, or experiencing culture through events crafted by locals.”

He believes that “the opportunity for progression was highly dependent on face time, not to mention one’s ability to carefully navigate the politics of higher-ups in the organisation.”

He is not alone. More people are now getting rid of their desks to explore the world. While it might have seemed like a fantasy to take up an official call with sand between your toes and the sun shining on your face, until a few years ago, today it is a reality that you can be a part of, in just a click.

Break free

“Technology has made it possible for career success and autonomy to co-exist,” says Narang. When he decided to make the shift in his lifestyle, instead of going on a solo expedition, he enrolled in a one-year travel programme by Remote Year (at $27,000). RY is a platform which takes in a bunch of professionals from different fields every year, and plans an itinerary for them for one year, making sure their ambience is fit to take a business call.

Over the past few years, several such platforms have mushroomed in the online space — WiFly Nomads, The Remote Experience, Hacker Paradise, We Roam, Wanderboss, Co-work Paradise and Project Getaway are a few examples. Even corporate giants have taken cognisance of the trend, and are now more open to hiring remote workers.

“In 2013, for the launch of our Legacy of Good 2020 plan, we announced a goal to have 50% of our workforce working remotely by 2020. Since then, we have seen 17% of our workforce enrolled in Dell’s employee flexible work programme, called Connected Workplace,” says Lauren Lee from Dell Global Communications. Automattic (the company behind WordPress) is worth over a billion dollars, and all 430 employees, spread across 40 countries, work remotely. “They actually don’t even have a headquarters!” says Kiruba Shankar, CEO of Business Blogging, a Social Media Consulting firm in which all the content writers work remotely.

A recent survey — ‘100 top companies with remote jobs in 2017’ — published by FlexJobs, a platform for companies (over 47,000) to hire remote workers, places Dell, Amazon and IBM among the top 20. The remote job listings on FlexJobs have grown by 52% in the last two years! The big demand is in “IT services, data processing, content writing, web services, digital marketing, graphic design, recruitment, advisory services and business analysis,” according to Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO – CIEL HR Services.

The flip side

While the pros are plenty, for those who are used to having a quiet cubicle, if you are working remotely, the challenge might be to deal with distractions — in terms of people or spaces.

“If there are kids at home, it becomes that much more difficult,” says Shankar. Also, for projects that require close coordination with multiple team members, remote working is necessarily not the most effective, he adds. “While remote workers are entitled to the same benefits such as holidays, leaves, working hours and performance management, opportunities available to a remote worker to take on additional responsibilities are limited. Hence, at times, career growth could be muted for remote workers in the current context,” adds Mishra. But the challenges fade in comparison to the amount of fun, and that is probably why those who made the shift, never once thought of boomeranging to their old lives.

“You just make it work,” writes Tammie Figlinski, known as Lost My Desk on Instagram, who has been running a social media marketing business remotely for seven plus years. “No one is micro-managing me, telling me how or when to do things. I am 100% responsible for my business… Oh yes, and the fact that I don’t have to dress up every day for work, and can just work in my PJs if I want to, or a coffee shop or anywhere in the world, I love that!”

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