The Complete Guide to Remote Jobs
This is intended to be an end-to-end guide to remote work in the UK today. The article will cover what exactly ‘remote jobs’ are, the most common remote roles, the good and bad parts of remote work, the skills you’ll need to succeed in remote work and where you can find your first few remote roles. Let’s get started!
What are remote jobs?
On the surface, a remote job is exactly what it sounds like – one you can do from home, from your own private office, or even from a coffee shop. There are 2 main categories of ‘remote workers’ these days. The first are ‘true remote employees’, and the 2nd are freelancers or consultants.
A remote employee is a full employee of their company. They have a salary or a per-hour rate. Their employer typically withholds PAYE taxes for them (depending on the country their employer operates in), and they are in all ways treated as employees.
The difference between a traditional and a remote employee is where they work. Remote employees don’t have to ‘come in to the office’. Many do not even have an assigned desk at ‘the office’, and the employing organisation may not even have ‘an office’ in the classic sense at all.
Consultants or freelancers Are not considered to be employees at all. They are typically either self-employed or employed by their own limited company. They do various kinds of work on a contractor basis for both individual clients and client companies.
Commonly, freelancers and consultants work from home or in office space they pay for themselves. They are sometimes required to work on-site, but more often attending a client’s office is limited to delivering reports, projects or presentations. It all depends on the type of work done, which can vary widely.
This article will primarily look at remote employees.
What kinds of remote jobs are available?
As we all discovered during COVID lockdown, it is possible to do a huge range of jobs that were traditionally considered ‘office based’ from home. There was an expectation that productivity (the amount of work performed per worker per day) would fall off markedly, but in fact, statistics show that productivity jumped dramatically for most suddenly at-home employees. Many were not excited to resume commuting to the office, and in fact employers who insisted on ‘in office’ work patterns resuming found that employee productivity fell again, and to even lower levels than before, when they did return to the office. As a result, many more roles are at least considered ‘work from home optional’ today than they were a few short years ago.
Some of the most in-demand work from home roles today include:
A product designer works to envision new everyday items and products, or to improve the practicality, profitability or usability of existing ones. The ‘products’ they design range from cars and other vehicles, kitchen appliances and personal electronics to industrial tools, heavy equipment or even whole product lines.
You might find a product design role involving testing, actual design, prototyping, product modelling or a mix of all four.
Salaries for junior-level product designers range from less than £25,000 p.a. to more than £35,000. Product designers with a decade or more of experience might earn £40,000 to £45,000 p.a., and senior roles often pay as much as £80,000.
A product manager is a key role that bridges the gap between the manufacturer of a product, the market for that product, and Those who administer the ‘business’ of manufacturing and marketing, making sure everyone gets paid.
Product managers typically specialise by industry or product type. One might be a technical product manager who develops video games, apps or computer programmes. Another might handle the development of manufactured goods, ranging from toys and home appliances to pharmaceuticals or medical devices. Still others manage financial products, like mortgages, credit accounts and investments.
Salaries for junior-level product managers range from less than £25,000 p.a. to more than £40,000. More experienced product managers might earn £45,000 to £60,000 p.a., and senior roles often pay as much as £70,000.
Executive assistants, sometimes called ‘personal assistants’ or even ‘secretaries’ depending on the organisation in which they work, provide administrative support for company directors, high level managers or entrepreneurs who are otherwise very short on staff. They usually report directly to one person, who relies upon them heavily, even if they rarely actually see each other.
The tasks any one executive assistant can be asked to accomplish vary widely from day to day. One might move from filing and data management to arranging travel, and from screening calls or making appointments to conducting research or liaising with suppliers or buyers.
Starting salaries for executive assistants start in the £17,000 range, but those working in large, expensive cities like Central London can expect to earn between £22,000 and £30,000 p.a. as a beginner. Senior executive secretaries might make anything from £25,000 to £35,000 p.a., or £30,000 to £50,000 p.a. in London.
Recruiters or recruitment consultants are responsible for finding suitable candidates for jobs, and sourcing the best people for both temporary and permanent positions in the companies who employ them. You might work for a large company directly, or for a recruitment agency dealing with a number of smaller companies at once.
Recruiters need a wide range of skills, from writing copy for job advertisements to working social media, headhunting and traditional networking. You’ll also conduct interviews, run background checks for sensitive roles and advise potential workers on their career paths.
Salaries for junior-level and trainee recruiters range from less than £15,000 p.a. to around £20,000. More experienced recruiters might earn £22,000 to £35,000 p.a., and the most senior recruitment roles often pay between £40,000 and £60,000.
Graphic designers work in all kinds of media to generate visual elements for the products and services we use every day. A graphic designer is usually given a creative brief by a client, account manager or creative director, and asked to ‘work their magic’.
Graphic design is often very specialised, and a designer finds themselves developing a reputation for their work in fields like corporate communications and branding, product packaging, traditional advertising, books and magazine production, video production, video games or online media.
Starting salaries for graphic designers start in the £18,000 to £23,000 p.a. range. Mid-career graphic designers might make anywhere from £25,000 to £38,000 per year, whereas creative directors might make more than £60,000 p.a.
When to consider a remote job
With the rise of remote and work-anywhere jobs available right now, it is a tempting time to ‘jump ship’ from the 9-5 and take on a remote role. But what are the signs that this is the right time for you?
You might consider remote work if you need greater flexibility in your schedule. If you are not at your most productive during ‘normal’ work hours, or if you simply don’t have a solid 9+ hour block to throw at getting to work, working and coming home, remote work might be the answer.
If you are great at managing your time without oversight, you might also thrive in a work-anywhere role. You’ll have to be able to work without oversight and motivate yourself to hit deadlines, though. It’s not something everyone can do.
It would also help if you were particularly tech-literate. Most remote roles require you to collaborate over remote working platforms, communication apps like Skype and Zoom, etc. Remember, corporate tech support can only do so much over the phone. Employers what remote workers that are good with tech.
If you simply aren’t at your most productive in the office, remote work might be your only solid option. If you find ‘the office culture’ more of an annoyance or a distraction than a benefit, you might indeed do better at home.
Are remote jobs for everybody?
Simply put, no. Some people really aren’t cut-out for remote work, and that’s fine. Many vital roles in society cannot be filled remotely at all, and people who are more suited to the office or customer-facing environment are needed to fill them.
If, for example, you find working alone and without easy, casual communication with your colleagues frustrating and isolating, you might not thrive in any work-from-home role. Especially if you are one of those people whose primary mode of social interaction is work, you might not be able to get by working alone.
If you struggle to maintain rigid work life/home life boundaries, you could have even more trouble working remotely. Work could begin to creep into every portion of your life, leaving you prone to burnout. Similarly, you could find the comforts and activities of the home too distracting during ‘work time’, making your productivity very low.
You might even find that the loneliness gets to you. Some remote workers find themselves going out nearly every night just to be around people for a bit, and this can easily be far more expensive than the daily commute.
If any of these become so problematic that you can’t overcome them, you might not be destined to work from home at all.
Pros and Cons of remote jobs
There are advantages and disadvantages to everything in life. But only you can decide how many of these possible pros and cons apply to your situation, and how much weight to give to each one.
- It can be much easier to find time to exercise, cook healthy food and enjoy a healthier lifestyle when working remotely.
- Most remote workers have a lower carbon footprint and lower expenses than office workers.
- On average, remote workers are more productive than office workers, at the same roles.
- Remote work makes it easier to spend time with friends and family, and to achieve a better work-life balance.
On the other hand….
- It can be very difficult to communicate with your colleagues when working remotely.
- It can be hard to stay on task and find your ‘grind motivation’ when working from home.
- The lack of social interaction often associated with remote work can be very difficult for some types of extroverts. Loneliness can be a real problem.
- It may be difficult to ‘be your own manager’ and solve all of your tech and time management problems alone, on top of your regular workload.
What skills do you need to successfully apply for remote jobs, and how do you demonstrate them on your CV?
First and foremost, you need to be good at your job, whatever that might be. The best employers will not want to consider marginally effective workers for remote roles if they can avoid it.
Beyond that, though, there are a set of nearly universal skills that mark out a good candidate for a remote role:
- You need to be able to work independently.
- This almost goes without saying, but you will still need to demonstrate to employers that you can work well on your own.
- On your CV, stress your problem-solving skills, your resourcefulness and your ability to take on the responsibility for projects without supervision.
- You need to be very self-motivated.
- One of the best parts of remote work is the absence of managers and bosses. However, you need to show employers that you don’t actually need them.
- In your CV, explain how you have experience setting and keeping your own schedule, staying on task, and completing projects within deadlines.
- You will need killer written communication skills.
Being able to talk the shine off a diamond won’t help at all if you can’t string a sentence together in a text format. You’ll be communicating mostly in writing when you work remotely, after all.
In your CV, you’ll need to demonstrate your skill with messaging tech as well as showing off your writing skills by crafting a solid covering letter.
Where do you find the best remote work roles?
There are work-from-home and work-anywhere roles in virtually every industry, but the top industries hiring remote workers these days include:
- Accounting & Finance
- Computer & IT
- Customer Service
- Education & Training
- Graphic Design
- HR & Recruiting
- Project Management
Of course, a remote position could easily be with a company half-way across the world from where you actually live…. But for many practical reasons, most people prefer working for a company in or near their own country. This list of employers is heavily skewed to the UK and Europe, but many of them do employ remote workers from all over the world.
- Achieve Test Prep
- Clipboard Health
- Omnipresent Group
- Polygon Technology
- Protocol Labs
- StudySmarter UG
What do remote work interview questions look like, and how should you answer them?
Probably 90% of the interview questions for a remote role will be identical to those for an office role. The remainder will be designed to tell if you are suitable for a remote role at all. Commonly encountered interview questions of this kind include:
How much experience do you already have in remote work / work from home roles? Answering this will be straightforward – you either have the experience or you don’t.
What remote working challenges have you faced, and how did you overcome them to be successful in your role? Be prepared to outline actual difficulties you have experienced, or fake it well. Saying you didn’t have any problems will make you look like a liar.
Why are you seeking a remote work role, rather than a traditional one? Be able to list a few ‘good’ reasons from the employer’s point of view. Talk about being more productive, avoiding the commute and not being distracted, rather than being present for kids or loved ones, etc.
How do you plan to deal with the challenges of being part of a distributed team? The answers will be very role-specific, but have a rough plan for getting answers quickly, reporting emergencies and dealing with issues without oversight.
Where will you generally be working? Make sure you outline a plan for working in a clean, distraction-free area which presents a good background for Zoom calls. Bonus points if you conduct the interview from an already-prepared space.
In the end, almost anyone who is motivated to try and is capable of learning new strategies and approaches can successfully work from home. Just make sure you understand the challenges that you’ll face, and have a workable plan for facing them.
Almost all industries have room for some remote workers, but if all of your experience so far has been in an industry that does not offer much in the way of remote work, you might want to target more remote-working-friendly industries which are adjacent to yours. You’ll have plenty of transferable skills, and you might have an easier time of it.
When it comes time to actually land that remote role, focus on understanding what your targeted employer wants and needs from a remote worker, and be sure to demonstrate to them exactly why you fit the bill perfectly.
Here are a few resources you can explore to learn more about remote work and the employers who ten to offer it: