When I was in engineering school, I stumbled upon the idea of remote working. That idea of doing your work from anywhere. It is a dream! Right?
That was at least 3 or 4 years ago. And from that day, I started following distributed companies and people working remotely to learn more about this remote working thing.
Fast forward to now. I started working remotely 4 months ago. It’s magical. And I can say, it’s the biggest thing that happened to me so far. I don’t need a vacation to go see my family now. I can now travel to see them and work from there. I can stay as long as I want.
When people think of remote work, they think of working from the pool, traveling all times and living a nomadic style. At least this is what we see in social media. It should be true, right? Well, it depends.
Here I’m going to present you the remote working from a perspective of a new joiner from a third world country. I’ll present what makes remote working challenging compared to going to an office. But also what makes a nomadic style nearly impossible for us, in third world countries.
Ok, let’s go!
I’ll ask you this simple question:
Is the company you’re working for is based on your country or has a subsidiary there?
If yes, you’re lucky. Basically you’ll be salaried. You have your national healthcare and some other things depending on the law of your country or what the company is offering.
If no, things are different. You’ll be, technicaly speaking, a contractor. Which means, you need to setup a company, get an accountant and get ready for some paperwork. You’ll be responsible for paying your companies’ taxes, your own healthcare, retirement plan…
When you’re a salaried person, money just shows-up, every month, in your personal account. Now, things will get a little bit complicated… Your salary will get to the company’s bank account. And everything you’ll do from now on need to be justified by an invoice in the name of your company.
As you guessed, not everything can be expensed in the name of your company. Your laptop, monitor, and working material can be expensed. Your groceries can not.
The recurrent problem here in Morocco is invoices do not contain all necessary information. Especially in restaurants. They’ll tell you they have a stamp containing those, but the accountant took it. If you came next time, they will stamp it for you… And yes, it’s the same story the next time too. A legend says they are lazy to add them to the invoice. Another one says they just don’t want to be taxed. Either way, you’re not getting paid for that invoice. Sorry!
Let’s get back to our problem, we third world countries: the passport. Even if we can afford traveling while working. Our passport is holding us.
This makes ideas like nomadic living nearly impossible. I’m saying nearly, because you can always plan in advance for a long trip, ask for all the visas you want, and voilà. You want to know how long in advance? Here you go, it’s maths time!
Let’s say you want to go to country A, and country B. To give a best estimation, we’ll not talk about the scenario where A & B need the same Visa, (ie. Europe).
To get a Visa, you need to prepare some documents and then go to the embassy (or a certified service) to deposit your documents. There are two bad news in here. First, generally speaking, if you’re not in a big city, chances are the embassy (or the service offering this) isn’t there. So, get ready to travel my friend. Second, you don’t get that appointment easily. You need to ask for it in advance. In peak season, the waiting time can range from 3 to 8 weeks to get an appointment. In other seasons, it can be a week or two. Let’s say we had it in one week.
Okay. Appointment in hand. Documents ready. I did the deposit and left my passport with the embassy. Now what? You need to wait my friend. Usually, it takes from 3 to 6 weeks to hear from the embassy. And because we’re always optimistic, let’s say it’s just 3 weeks.
And btw, you were crazy enough to ask for appointment in embassy A and B in the same time. You took them one month apart to play it a little bit safe. Nice work, man! After a month, you got your final response. Right!
Let’s wrap this up. To visit a country A and country B, and given the best case scenario, and the fact that the embassy actually accepted your request. You need 7 weeks. That’s two months. Two months in dust. Two months you can’t travel in them. Because simply put: you don’t have your passport…
Compared to others who just grab their passport and go, this is a big disadvantage for us and will likely be forever. Also, if you were in country B and you want to go to country C. You can’t do it abroad. You need to comeback. And do it from your country. Sorry!
It’s not explicitely stated that writing is important to get a remote job. But it is more important than you can imagine. It’s the essence of communication and you’ll be using it everyday.
You just can’t go to see your friend to tell him how to do things. You can’t express yourself, your ideas or your arguments by your budy language. That’s not working anymore. From now on, you need to write everything down.
Also, the work is going to be done asynchronously now. Your team mates are probably spread around the globe. With different timezones. And different working hours.
It doesn’t really matters if you’re coding or doing customer support or marketing… In all these fields, you need to be a good writer. I’m not talking about writing award winning novels. I’m talking about describing your ideas and intent using simple words so others can understand easily.
In a normal job (you know, that one you commute for it). You have those desks touching each others. And sometimes you can sneak peek into the monitor of your friend. They call it the open space. They say, somehow this thing will help you be more productive and collaborate with others. If they are not putting headphones, of course.
Anyway, in those jobs. When you commute. You already know you’re going to work. Deep inside your head, you know this place is only for work, nothing else. Once you leave it, it means the work is finished.
That’s. Going. To. Change. Drastically.
Now, your home is where you live, but also where you work. Your desk is there. Your monitor is there. Your laptop is there. And probably, you’re a notification away from work. And this needs a hell lot of organization to pull it off!
You need to organize things. Your working environment. Your working hours. But also, when to stop. Some call it work/life balance. I don’t like to call it that way. It makes the work part of it sound creepy and unethical. I would say, trust your gut! When you feel you need to stop for that day. Just stop. Sometimes you’ll stop at 4 but others at 6 or 7. It depends.
Given people don’t see each others everyday like normal jobs. You usually need to plan your work and how your days will look like. There is no micro management in remote working. There is a get the work done mindset. It’s built on trust and not sneaking on others’ monitors.