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Guide

The Ultimate Remote Work Handbook

As more companies shift to remote-friendly work environments, it can be easy to feel lost in the shuffle. This complete handbook will show you how to manage the transition.

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In this guide

It's hard to deny that remote work is on the rise. According to GetApp, the amount of people who work remotely at least once per week has grown by 400% since 2010! And our own research has found that 68% of professionals increased their use of web conferencing while working remotely in the past 12 months. So it's clear that more people are changing their working methods and adapting to better tools to do so.

Thanks to this new way of working, employees benefit from better mental health, a better work-life balance, and greater autonomy. And employers reduce costs and attrition rates thanks to happier employees.

In this handbook, you'll learn everything you need to know about remote working: from how to look for and land a job to management tips for new adopters. You're sure to find some useful takeaways whether you're a remote work beginner or a seasoned pro. Let's dive in.

What is remote work?

Thanks to remote work, employers can source top candidates from anywhere in the world. No longer tied to a centralized location, workers can connect digitally to execute their daily tasks.

Some companies are remote-first, meaning that working remotely is the primary method of working for all employees. They often don't have any central location, and employees are scattered in various geographic locations. Other companies are partially remote, with some collaborators working in an office and others working remotely.

Remote work definition

Remote work is a working style that enables employees to work outside of traditional office environments. Employees may work from their homes, co-working spaces, or any other off-site location that is not in a company office.

Remote work: benefits for employees

Remote work certainly has numerous benefits over traditional office work for employees. Remote work can foster a much more inclusive environment since many of the physical barriers have been removed. For example, candidates with disabilities, working parents, or people that live in rural areas can all benefit from the flexibility of remote jobs.

In addition, remote work can even be more productive. Studies have shown benefits in productivity when working remotely. In a FlexJobs survey from 2020, 51% of respondents said that being able to work from home gave them increased productivity. This was attributed to an interruption-free and quieter working environment.

Finally, one of the key benefits of remote work is the reduction or total elimination of the commute. In 2019, the average one-way commute time in the United States was 27.6 minutes, meaning that employees were spending almost an hour each day getting to and from work. Remote work promotes more work-life balance because employees can choose the schedule that works best for them.

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Remote work: benefits for employers

Not only do employees benefit from remote working, so do employers. Remote work permits organizations to cultivate diverse and inclusive workplaces that include people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, geographic locations, and cultural traditions. This is often difficult if the company can only hire from one geographic location. An additional benefit of this is that managers can draw from a bigger hiring pool, avoiding the challenges of an oversaturated job market.

In addition, a fully or partially remote organization can save costs. Real estate, utilities, travel expenses, and office materials are all reduced when you remove a company office from the equation. These savings can then be passed along to the employees via competitive benefits and salaries. It's a surefire way to attract top talent.

The combined benefits of remote work prevent burnout and make employees more likely to stay with a company longer. BEST Human Capital & Advisory Group reports that 72% of employers said remote work has a high impact on employee retention, meaning employees are more likely to stick with their company if they have options for remote work.

Employers who have embraced remote work realize benefits beyond cost savings. They're able to keep their employees happy and healthy and improve their overall quality of life. This results in deeper employee loyalty and lower turnover.

The challenges of remote work

Despite the many benefits, there are still a few challenges of remote work. Overworking, silos, and social isolation are a few risks.

  • Time management - without the structure of a 9 - 5 workday, it can be more difficult to stay on task and not get distracted. Organizations should set expectations for productivity each quarter and track work with the right tools.
  • Overworking - remote workers often put in longer hours than those who work at traditional offices. Management can combat this by setting official working hours.
  • Remote teamwork issues - when you do not see people in person every day, it's easier for communication to break down. Video engagement platforms like Livestorm can break down silos and build team spirit, making it easier to retain employees for the long term.
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What are the best remote working jobs?

As you would probably guess, there are a ton of remote working jobs available. This is both a great thing and a challenge. With so many opportunities, it can be hard to know what type of remote job is best for you. To help you out, here is a roundup of the best remote working jobs.

If you get a remote job as a data entry operator, you will organize and transfer data from one source to another and update relevant databases. For example, you might enter invoices into a spreadsheet or enter hours worked into a database. Data entry operators need great time management skills and a keen eye for detail.

Web designers create the design of a website or web pages. A successful web designer needs excellent design sense, an eye for aesthetics, creativity, and technical knowledge. They must also have strong interpersonal skills because they will sometimes be working closely with clients who aren’t always tech savvy.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialists work on researching, testing, analyzing, and optimizing website text to make it perform higher in search engines like Google or Bing. Besides being a lucrative remote work option, SEO specialist is a great career choice for anyone passionate about digital marketing or the internet.

As a web developer, you would develop software applications using a variety of coding languages, such as Javascript, HTML, or Ruby. Generally speaking, being a developer requires being able to think logically, the patience to hunt down errors among many lines of code, and being comfortable using technology.

A virtual assistant provides support services to a business or person from a remote location. As a virtual assistant, your responsibilities might include administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments or booking travel arrangements. To succeed in the position, you need to be organized and attentive to small details.

Translators convert the writing or speech of one language to another. Great translators can convey style and tone with ease. Translators typically work from home and submit their work electronically. If you speak multiple languages fluently and love solving problems, a translation position could be a perfect fit for you.

How to find remote working jobs?

You can find the perfect remote work job on a job board, a freelance platform or even go the distance and start your own company! Here are our top picks for remote job searches.

1. Remote work job boards

While traditional job boards might once have consisted of scraps of paper on a physical bulletin board, the 21st-century counterparts have been optimized for your remote work needs. There are plenty of options to choose from where you can look for fully, partially or hybrid remote work models in your dream industry. While most job boards are free, note that there are some subscription models that let you go even further in your job search. Here is a roundup of just a few of our favorite places to look for remote work:

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  • We Work Remotely - with a name that is as straight to the facts as it gets, We Work Remotely cuts the fat out of your job search, making it easy to navigate their job postings. If you just want to find a remote job without wading through walls of content - this one is for you.
  • Welcome to the Jungle - Welcome to the Jungle is a France-based powerhouse that lets you segment your job search based on the location of the job, your dream industry, and the kind of contract you are seeking. With a great mix of exciting startups and established multinationals posting daily on their site, it's a great place to start if you want to work for international companies.
  • AngelList - the original job board for tech fans and startup professionals alike, AngelList connects job searchers with a wealth of opportunities geared for the information age. Remote jobs are a dime a dozen on this platform.
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2. Freelance platforms

You can think of freelance job search platforms as a not-so-distant cousin of remote work job boards. While related, the two focus on different goals. A freelance platform will help you find jobs on a temporary or project-based basis. The pros of which are that you set your own workload, hours, and areas of interest. Most of the platforms host ads for projects or part-time jobs, although at times, companies will post full-time jobs as well. While the verdict is still out on the utility of the gig economy, we can't deny that freelance platforms give extra flexibility to professionals around the world. Let's look at a few platforms you can use to find your next remote job:

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  • Upwork - it's hard to mention freelance work without bringing Upwork into the mix. Arguably the world's most popular freelance job marketplace, Upwork is a great place to start looking for your next gig. Don't expect any results overnight, though – Upwork is notoriously competitive. The number of freelancers on the website exceeds the count of active clients at least three times.
  • PeoplePerHour - similar to Upwork, PeoplePerHour is a virtual marketplace for sellers and clients. With the ability to leave ratings and reviews after each collaboration, PeoplePerHour is a fan favorite of the more cautious among us.
  • Guru - an excellent choice for the more technologically inclined, Guru caters to a clientele looking for experts in IT, web, or software development.

Apply to jobs at Livestorm

We just couldn't resist throwing this last one in the ring. As a remote-first company, we consider ourselves to be experts at building and onboarding a remote team. With the ability to hire top candidates from anywhere in the world, we've managed to scale our team x8 in a few months with no plans of stopping any time soon. Interested in learning more? See what life at Livestorm is like, and check out our job board.

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How to be productive when working from home?

Now that you've found your dream remote job and cut your commute time down to how long it takes you to get from your bedroom to the couch, we'll share some productivity tips. After all, being great at remote working is so much more than changing out of your pj's before your video calls (although that helps).

When it comes to your home office setup, it's easy to get it wrong. A lot of people don't invest enough into their remote office. They probably all have back problems now. Jokes aside, make sure you are choosing equipment that will suit your needs for the long term.

Always try to have a dedicated space for your work, free from interruptions. Whether this means banning any pets or humans from your co-living space between certain hours or just finding a room to focus in, make sure you can work uninterrupted.

After you've found your spot and claimed it as your own, build your home office. This means including items like a desk, an ergonomic chair, an extra monitor, and good lighting.

Finally, you'll want to get your tec-specs up to par. Your wifi should be lightning-fast and your bandwidth ample. Think you've got it all covered? Let's check out what tools you're using next.

After building the perfect home office you might be wondering how to actually do the "work" part of remote work. Your going to need a way to communicate with your team daily and collaborate at a distance. Video and collaboration tools like Livestorm will help you do just that.

Perfect for use cases that range from one to one meetings, to a conference of thousands, Livestorm is highly adaptable for your remote needs. And we're not just bringing this up for no good reason. As a remote-first company, we've put our money where our mouth is by using our own platform as our exclusive video communication tool.

This means all of the team meetings, company Q&A's, keynote addresses, and employee onboarding sessions are hosted right on Livestorm. The best perk? You can opt to have your events recorded and shared automatically with registrants after the fact, so that teammates who miss work can be brought up to speed on their own time. Now that's freedom.

It's not enough to have the best tools, although those certainly help. You also need to develop solid remote work habits. Start by keeping a regular schedule as much as possible. When you consistently work the same hours each day, it becomes much easier to get into work mode when the time comes.

We mentioned the challenges of communication when working remotely and that you need to make extra effort to compensate. Schedule regular check-ins with your team members via online meetings, emails, or chat. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that projects are moving forward as needed.

To avoid burnout, make sure you take consistent breaks. The Pomodoro Technique can be really helpful in this regard. The basic premise is that you do 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a five minute break. After the fourth session, you take a longer break. The reason this works so effectively is that it forces you to focus intensely for short bursts then gives your brain a break. By following these remote work from home tips you're sure to be productive.

Managing remote employees

At this point in our handbook, you're probably starting to feel like a remote work pro. After all, you've bought the standing desk, downloaded a chill tracks playlist, and checked off the first item of your to-do list (it was reading this handbook, wasn't it?).

We're going to switch tracks now to talk to the remote managers among us. Sitcoms like The Office have poked fun at in-person management for years. But the same challenges of communication, leadership, and organization are amplified in an online setting. To avoid becoming the internet age's equivalent of a bumbling Michael Scott, read on.

1. Set clear productivity standards

No matter where your team is located, they will want to know what is expected of them. It's up to you to communicate your expectations regarding their working hours and key objectives. Don't get us wrong – we're not telling you to micromanage. Rather, lay out the game plan and trust your team to stick to it. After all, you hired them for a reason.

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2. Use the right remote working tools

By using a blend of asynchronous tools and video communication, you can track your employee's progress and touch base with them in regular meetings. Task management tools like Asana or Trello can help you keep projects moving along smoothly. Slack plugins like standup Alice give your team an opportunity to list their top goals and challenges for the day. And video engagement tools like Livestorm enable face-to-face conversations and team meetings.

3. Schedule specific times for team meetings and interaction

Even if your team is displaced, it's important to schedule regular check-ins to keep everyone on the same page. You don't necessarily need to meet daily, but at least once per week. If possible, try scheduling these meetings during off-peak times to ensure maximum availability. Establishing a routine also helps people feel more comfortable in their roles and understand how to work together more effectively.

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Build a better remote team with video engagement

If the future is remote, then the most successful individuals will be those who are able to thrive in a remote environment. Invest time in learning the skills and the technology that will help you work effectively from any location. You won't regret it.

Livestorm's video engagement platform is made for your remote team: it is browser-based, easy-to-use and provides all the features to run your events from end-to-end. To test Livestorm and get started, simply create a free account.

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