The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: How To Choose Location-Independent Jobs

Knowing what makes a location-independent job worthwhile before applying will help you decide if that role is the right one to pursue.

We've spoken about the influx of newly-remote companies at length here on the Desk To Remote blog, but today we're covering one of the most important things remote candidates need to know: how to tell a good remote work company from a bad one.

While being location-independent is already a big perk of working in this industry, there are other key differentiators that will show you that some remote companies are good, while others are bad or downright ugly. Those who are wanting to transition into remote work will often jump at the first opportunity that comes their way without taking the time to vet the company and see if it will be a good long-term fit. This is a move that can end up starting them off on the wrong foot and affect them for years to come.

Keep reading for our expert tips on how to choose a location-independent job and tell a good remote company from a bad one:

The Good

One of the leading characteristics of a great remote company is that they don't consider location-independence to be a negotiating factor. Let us explain this in more detail.

In the past few months, many traditional non-remote companies have introduced full-time remote work as an option for employees. While this is largely a positive move, some of these companies have taken this shift as a way to attract future applicants while shifting the compensation they are entitled to onto a lower tier at the same time. In short, they know people want to work remotely and are betting on applicants compromising on their salary expectations in order to work from home.

In contrast, a good remote company has location-independence built into its structure from day one. Remote-first companies don't decrease the salaries they offer just because they allow people to work from home, and they go out of their way to create fair and balanced offers for employees where the perks are tangible. Paid time-off, vouchers, or memberships to online services and personal development budgets are just a few examples of actual advantages offered by remote giants like Zapier and Automattic today.

Remote hopefuls can identify good remote companies in several ways. First, do some research about how the business was established - do they have a track record of working remotely? Have the founders or managing partners been involved in remote companies before? This information, available via LinkedIn and news media about the company, can be a key indicator of a good company to apply to.

The Bad

We've already touched on one of the big no-nos of remote companies - decreasing salary offerings because the listing is for a location-independent role. But the unfortunate reality is this is just one bad characteristic out of several that applicants need to be on the lookout for.

Another bad characteristic that some remote companies have is having no structure, or hiring without a clear idea of what is expected of the candidate. If there is no-one taking the lead and planning what needs to be done and who needs to do it, the chances of them being around in two years' time become slimmer and slimmer. While it is difficult to 100% define what a job will entail beforehand, there should be a scope of focus that gives applicants a clear idea of what is expected from them.

The first sign that this is the case is when candidates come across a listing for one job that describes the duties of four different roles. It's normal for some jobs to have an overlap but beware of expectations that are too out of the box - if they're looking for someone that can do marketing and sales, fine. If they're looking for someone that can do that, take on customer support, and also stay on top of other admin, move on to the next listing.

Not only does the company not have a clearly defined idea of what they want out of hiring someone, but they'll also overstretch the candidate they hire and cause burnout as the poor new-hire tries to keep up with everything and inevitably drops the ball.

The Ugly

Last but not least, there is the downright ugly. This might seem a bit dramatic, but there are remote companies out there that have characteristics that are even worse than the above. These are the types of companies we recommend skipping out on when applying for a location-independent job unless the implications are fully understood first.

To start off this section, let's talk about crunch-culture. Many remote companies work based on continuous delivery and high-output, especially in the tech and SaaS sectors. Crunch, or periods of intense work hours with constant deadlines is a reality for many remote workers. This crunch-culture has its uses and is not necessarily all bad. The problem with it comes in with how remote companies are handling the crunch.

Uncompensated overtime, extended on-call periods without relief, and demand for constant availability are work characteristics that can be toxic for remote workers. Recent research indicates that remote workers experience a disproportionate amount of burnout, affecting over 80% of surveyed remote tech workers. The constant feeling of needing to be connected and available at the drop of a hat is exhausting, and in no case is it as severe as when crunch times are handled incorrectly.

The result of this burnout? High staff turnover. Companies offering location-independent work and perks that sound great but have listings for open roles on the market every week are a warning sign. If employees are only staying there for a few months at a time, there's a reason for it.

The Conclusion

There are a variety of remote companies offering location-independent jobs to hopeful candidates. The problem is that they are not all good companies, and some can even be detrimental to the career prospects and health of the remote hopeful.

There are two ways to resolve the question of what makes a good remote company or not. The first is to research, research, research. Knowing more about the company's reputation, their founders, and their reviews from previous employees can make a world of difference. The other option is to work with a professional remote recruiter that pre-vets companies and personalizes job searches based on the candidate's requirements.

Desk To Remote has a strict pre-vetting policy through which all remote listings are checked prior to going to your inbox. To learn more about our personalized Job Search package, click here.

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