Remote Work Creates a Fairer World

We all know the big inequality we have on earth. Your chances in life are highly different depending on your place of birth. Remote work will lower that on a large scale. Have a look how that will work out.

Birth Lottery

The biggest disadvantage on earth is based on the birth lottery. You have less possibilities in life, if you are born into a poor family. The education is worse, the motivation to go studying is less and the connections to good jobs are missing. That is common everywhere on earth and we know it from our western communities.

But the birth lottery is even worse at developing countries. If you are born in a rural area without internet access and maybe without electricity, the way to a middle class life is very, very hard. You have to start real work underaged, have to get kids in your twenties or earlier and cannot even think of university.

The good news is, that it is getting a little easier to improve your standard of life with every year. Electricity and internet are on the rise, i.e. with photovoltaic power generation, in every region on earth.

Remote Education

With the higher availability of the (hopefully neutral) internet comes the better access to education. Everyone who is a little self-motivated can receive free high level education, i.e. from Udacity or other MOOCs (massive open online courses) of high schools and even well-known universities.

This is a big chance for talented, young people in the developed and in the developing world. No matter if you are a young African software developer or a German mom and likes to restart your career without leaving your kids alone too long.

Well-paid Work

And then comes remote work! Because all the education doesn’t help without well-paid work. Electricity, internet, laptop and education are the only ingredients, what a motivated woman or man needs today to increase their standard of living fundamentally.

Take the example of tunga.io a remote startup run by a Dutch founder. They are working together with BITS ACADEMY with sections across Africa, which are training IT skills to students. Tunga tries to link these trained developers to worldwide software projects.

A little bit more on the side of entry level jobs is Sama Source from San Francisco. Their mission is to lift people out of poverty with remote jobs like data entry or data enrichment. If that all is working on a large scale, this will improve the life of whole communities, including better sanitation, increased health, less hunger and a reduced number of children in families (which slows overpopulation).

The possibly increased standard of living is the same for underprivileged people everywhere. A disabled person who can work on a computer but is not so mobile thrives with actual remote work options.

Better Than Development Aid

Nothing bad about good development aid! It saved an amazing number of lives and helps the people who are mostly unblamable for their situation. And it is old news that education is the key for helping developing regions. But a sustainable development starts only if there is enough work.

It is not the best solution for the local people, to bring them work through the big enterprises, with was common for production work in eastern Europe and China, moved through India and looks for its luck now in Indonesia and the Phillipines.

Much better for every country is, to enable a diverse and strong economy. This works not only with international teams, where workers of developing countries are part of the team, it works mostly through the huge number of better trained and experienced young people who will start new endeavours by their own. Remote work can be more sustainable than development aid in this way!

That all is not naturally given, so a stable, democratic political framework is important. An affordable, unrestricted access to an uncensored internet is crucial. A government, which thinks it is better to keep the people stupid, will not help itself in the long run, because a strong, independent economy is the better choice everytime.

Summing Up

Remote work creates exactly the opportunities, which were missing in the past. It gives well-paid work to so many disadvantaged groups of job seekers. Disabled, underprivileged, formerly undereducated, part-time, young mom, rural or remote living and relative caring people have much more possibilities these days. The worldwide inequality between poor and rich countries, between metropolitan and rural areas and between high and low educated people will be lowered dramatically by remote work!

Other opinions? Interesting additions? You know similar initiatives like the above mentioned? Please write that in the comments!

Want to be part of the movement? Want to do something good – better than development aid? Please contact me via the contact page.

The benefits of remote working for startups and small companies

There are so many general benefits of remote work, that it is hard to address them all. You can also have a look at this post: ‘Why your company has to go remote‘. This post here is about the special situation at a startup or a small company.

What characterices startups and small companies? You have a small number of permanent employees, you will have limited financial resources and a very dynamic environment relating to the market and the potentially growth of the company.

Employees

It is clear, that the best talent is spread over the entire planet. If you try to attract them as onsite employees to your small company you will fail, because they simply will not move into insecurity. That is the reason, why potential founders moved to Silicon Valley or other startup hubs before. With letting your staff work remotely, only your work and your team counts while hiring and not the location!

If you have spread your employees over different markets, you have the valuable possibility to get important information for your product management, i.e. if your product is likely to work in that market or not.

Budget

We said before, that small companies and startups have tiny budgets. How to save that liquidity – which is essential for your small company – with remote work:

We all know that the worldwide average salaries for your employees are not as high as in the few big startup hubs around the globe. Sound like ‘wage dumping’, but that is not a must. You can pay your employees according to their work and enable them a high living standard wherever they are located and be under the San Francisco wage anyway.

The other cost impact is the saving of offices, furniture, IT infrastructure, energy, janitor service and cleaning personnel. To rent conference rooms for your bi-annual project meetings is definetly the cheaper alternative. It comes with the great idea to change location with every meeting to ‘visit’ your employees at their locations with the entire team.

Efficiency

With a small number of people, you will experience that their level of efficiency will be directly visible at the companies results. You will boost the efficiency by letting your employees work remote, because ‘work doesn’t happen at work’ like lots of authors are explaining (i.e. Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson). The key points are less useless meetings, less distraction of crowded offices and collegues who work like ‘ask a collegue is better than think for myself’. Probably you know what I am talking of.

You should let your workforce not only work where they want, but also when they want, because only they know where and when they are most productive. For sure there is some overlap time needed for video calls, but the rest of the time should remain flexible.

Time Zones

Having workers in different time zones is first of all an obstacle. But imagine around the clock coding-testing-coding or overnight bug fixing for happy clients or even a 24/7 help desk with just a handful employees. That is a really big boost for the customer service.

If you work remotely just from the beginning, you are avoiding problems with turning your existing company to a remote one. That includes normally discussions about processes, tools, collaboration with and behaviour of single remote workers. See more in the post ‘How to start the transition to a remote company’.

Remote work has lots of advantages, especially for startups and small companies. What are your experiences? Let us know in the comment section.

What is remote work, a digital nomad or even a remote-first company?

The remote work movement gains more and more momentum. But what is ‘remote work’ really? And what are all the other terms in its context? See the following collection.

Remote Work

It is any kind of collaborating work, where not all participating members are colocated in one building. The definition diverges, some say all workers on one plant are not remote, but others say everyone who sits 30 meters away or on a different floor is remote. That hard definition comes from the fact, that this 30-meter-collegue will lose the connection to the project without proper communication and documentation.

With that definition you will get one point: you are already working remote in some kind. But the common understanding of working remote is to work part- or full-time from your home office or a cafe or coworking space in your home town or anywhere else on our planet.

Completely Remote / 100% remote

If you are talking about a person, it is someone, who works full-time remote (no matter if in the home town or abroad). This is not excluding project meetings at your company and visits of customers and suppliers from time to time.

If you are talking about a company, all their employees are able to work where they want. The company can even have offices, but some never had an office or headquarter anywhere.

Remote-friendly vs. Remote-first Company

All big companies are trying to be remote-friendly these days. They are offering flexible work hours, part- and full-time home offices and sometimes even single enployees, which are completely location independent. These actions are commonly taken on existing onsite staff.

A remote-first company is built around the remote philosophy with all its tools and processes, even if some employees are sitting together in the same office. These companies are hiring worldwide, with no connection to any location. That constellation is still rare, but there is a raising number of i.e. software companies. One of the first of that kind was 37signals, turned now to Basecamp (http://basecamp.com).

Freelancers / Entrepreneurs

There are 3 major working conditions for remote workers: freelancing, self-employment and traditional employment (permanent appointment). These conditions are often mixed, i.e. a freelancer who has its own side projects or an employed person with part-time freelancing. Anyway, the percentage of freelancers and entrepreneurs is very high under remote workers.

Digital Nomads

are generally people, who are working online with the help of laptop and smart phone (formerly known as telecommuting). While the term is correct for people in the home office and abroad, it is normally linked to remote workers, who are moving from location to location around the globe.

Co-working and -living

With the raise of remote work, some digital nomad hubs emerged (i.e. Chiang Mai in Thailand). In those cities the first co-working spaces appeared, commonly open offices with WiFi where you rent your desk per day or even hours. Co-living came up next, the easiest explanation is: a combination of co-working space and hostel. The co-working spaces are already spreading through our home towns, because remote workers, who cannot work at home, are tired from distractions and bad wifi at coffee shops.

Remote Industry

If you combine all that, you see that we have a rising industry branch here. The related businesses includes co-working and -living spaces, hostels, coffee shops, specialized travel agencies, organized digital nomad trips, specialized online education and blogging, software for online collaboration and a lot more (please feel free to put the things I missed in the comments).

Millennials / Generation Y

Everytime you read something about the future of work you will come across the term ‘Millennials’. The millennials (or ‘Generation Y’ if you live in continental europe) are, according to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials): ‘the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and ending birth years ranging from the mid-1990s to early 2000s’.

Why are they (wait, I should say ‘we’) that important? Because this generation will have the highest percentage of working people soon and because the needs and desires of that generation are totally different to generations before. Security and stability at only one employer was desired over decades, but the millennials are looking for freedom, opportunities and self-fulfillment. And because that is combined with and enabled by the digitalization, it is the biggest challenge for all industries.

That explanation was helpful? Or do I missed an important point? Please let us all know in the comment section. Thanks for sharing!