Working remotely can suck as much as the office. Do you really want a remote job?

Over a year ago I asked my full-time employer if I could work remotely. I was getting antsy at the company, less motivated, and slightly bitter about my salary (not warranted on my part – I was paid just fine). I thought working from home would fix this and make me happier. After all, the company was making some pretty cool products and I liked my role (content marketer).

Surprisingly, the company let me leave Los Angeles and work remotely in Pittsburgh, my hometown.

Working remotely solved my working woes for a few months, but it didn’t last. The problems I had left behind at the office came back with a vengeance. More antsy, less motivated, and more bitter than ever. At the office, I at least felt like I was part of a team. I also got to see my friends every day and live in beautiful Studio City. LA. I took this for granted at the time.

I wish someone would have made me think about why I really wanted to leave the office environment and work remotely. Don’t get me wrong, working remotely has significantly improved my lifestyle (I currently work remotely as a contractor for a cool company), but it’s not for everyone. You have to really want to do it, but, more importantly, know why you want to do it.

There are good and bad reasons to want to work remotely. I’ll cover both here so you can avoid some of the same mistakes I made.

But first…

List your top 5 reasons for job dissatisfaction

I’m currently helping some friends find remote jobs. I’ve done it myself three time before in many different ways. I know what kind of approach works and what doesn’t.

Last night I was chatting with a friend who is a system administrator in corporate America. He works in a cubicle all day, does a 45-minute commute each way, doesn’t care about the services the company offers, and doesn’t care for his role. He wants to do something less technical.

My plan was to dedicate our chat to looking for some remote work opportunities, but I realized that, with him, not being able to work from home isn’t the real problem. The real problem is that he hates pretty much everything about his career…

  1. He doesn’t like his profession/role
  2. He doesn’t care about the company he works for
  3. He has an entrepreneurial spirit (wants to have more time to dedicate to his side project)
  4. He doesn’t like the office environment (cubicles, gray walls, fluorescent lighting, etc)
  5. He wastes time commuting

Remote work on its own can only solve the commuting issue, and that’s not very high on his list of problems. While working remotely could solve the office environment problem too, some companies have really cool offices.

So, if he could get a new role at a cool company that had a great office, that would solve 3 out of his 5 problems. (Two of those problems are in his top three.) His lifestyle would improve significantly, no remote work required.

This understanding opens up more opportunities for him. Since he lives in Pittsburgh, he can apply to cool office jobs in the area, as well as remote jobs around the world.

For even more opportunities, I was going to suggest applying to office jobs throughout the country, but he has a girlfriend in Pittsburgh. Plus his partner for his side project lives in Pittsburgh. But if good reasons weren’t keeping him there, I would have suggested doing what I did in 2014: apply to office jobs in a state you really want to live in. (For me that was California.)

At the end of our chat, we decided that working remotely would be nice, but not necessary if he could find a cool job at a cool company in Pittsburgh.

The point: First figure out why you want to work remotely so you aren’t miserable for the same reasons you were while working in an office. Is not being able to work remotely really the problem? Or, like my friend, do you just hate your job and/or what you do?

Good reasons to want to work remotely

Below are the good reasons I’m aware of that first come to mind. I’m sure there are more. And I’m sure I’ll add more as I speak to more people who want to work remotely. You should have at least one really good reason for wanting to work remotely before you start the process of finding a remote job.

Please add a comment below if you have a different good reason.

To travel

This is the main reason I choose to work remotely. As a remote worker I’m able to do things like travel to 12 countries in 12 months. I don’t have to stop working, or worse, wait until I’m retired to travel to every place I want to travel to.

Sometimes the time zone difference is shitty (taking calls at 1a.m.), but for me there are more pros than cons.

To take care of someone

This makes remote work opportunities special. A remote job lets you support yourself while taking care of a new child, sick parent, or someone else you love.

One of my friends is currently living in Mississippi and wants to work remotely so he can support himself while supporting his sick father. This is a beautiful thing that remote work makes possible.

Another friend of mine is in a similar situation. I’ve also worked with many remote coworkers in the past who choose to work remotely for this reason. It’s a good one.

To get more job opportunities

If you like where you live but want to work for cool companies that don’t have offices in your area, you can tap into a whole new job market. What was once dozens of job opportunities turns into hundreds, even thousands. You can use sites like AngelList and FlexJobs to find these opportunities.

Bad reasons to want to work remotely

Again, these reasons are based on my experience and the people I’ve talked to. There are definitely more. But if one of these reasons is your main reason for wanting to work remotely, you should think about how satisfied you are with your profession and employer.

To quit the commute

Unless your commute is over an hour each way, I really don’t think wanting no commute is a good reason to want to work remotely. After all, you may decide you want to work at a coworking space and you’ll end up commuting there.

Many people don’t mind commuting if they’re doing what they love for a cool company. In fact, there are some pretty cool podcasts out there that can turn a once-dreaded commute into something you look forward to.

To work from home

Unless you’re taking care of a loved one, working from home isn’t special, which is why I never use the term “work from home jobs.” Now you’re spending 16 hours a day in your house (working and sleeping).

To me this sounds awful. When people say they love working remotely because they can wake up and work in their pajamas, I always think they’re full of shit.

Still want to work remotely?

As I mentioned above, I’ve landed three remote jobs at three different companies. I know how to find remote jobs, get hiring managers interested in you, and have them choose you over hundreds of other candidates.

My second to last employer chose me out of 1,000 applicants because I positioned myself in a very specific way. The same is true for the remote job I just landed. And, now, I’m helping my friends who want remote jobs position themselves similarly.

I’m doing this for research purposes to confirm that my approach to landing a remote job works for other people and professions. After this research is done, and if I confirm my approach works in general and not just for me, I’ll be creating a free course.

This course will walk you through everything you need to do to get a remote job. I expect this to be ready in July or August 2018. To get notified when my remote job course is available, you can sign up here…

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