Eight months ago, when the company I work for decided to close all our offices, making from work from home mandatory across the company, I thought this was a temporary measure and that we would return to the office soon. Well, I couldn’t be more wrong.
I always thought being in an office was essential for my job, but the pandemic changed that. Covid-19 forced many companies to switch to remote working quickly, and even now that the pandemic seems to wear on, many employers announced that work-from-home policies will extend through the end of 2021, or even forever. Microsoft is planning to reopen offices in January 2021 but will allow employees to work from home partially without approval, or even permanently on a case-by-case basis. Google extended its work-from-home policy by a year, until summer 2021, and plans to accommodate requests to remain remote permanently.
The Benefits of Remote Employment
More and more employees who are granted remote or flexible working arrangements say that these policies have had a positive impact on their job satisfaction and productivity – working from home usually means fewer distractions and more time due to the lack of a commute, resulting in increased productivity and performance.
Remote work may also enhance work-life balance – because employees have more control over their work schedule, it’s easier for them to take care of personal errands in the morning or during lunch hour.
Employees who work from home can also save a lot of money on gas or transportation, lunches, and parking fees. Employers, too, have major economic benefits: costs related to office infrastructure, electricity, heating, and air conditioning can all be reduced from their spending.
Having a remote workforce brings other advantages too – location-independent work means greater freedom not only for individuals but also for companies, as it gives them new recruiting possibilities and a larger pool of talents to choose from. Furthermore, with employees spread across the globe, a company can operate in more time zones without anyone working overtime.
Digital Nomadism – A Long Term Shift
If remote work gives employers the possibility to hire from anywhere in the world, at the same time it gives employees the freedom to work from anywhere – all they need is a laptop, smartphone, and a Wi-Fi connection.
While I have decided to work from home, many other remote workers or “digital nomads” choose to work from coffee shops, co-working spaces, or even foreign countries. Although “Digital nomadism” is a modern phenomenon and now a growing trend after the pandemic, the term “digital nomad” was first used in 1997 as the title of a book by Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners. Digital nomads are “people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.”
New technologies and cloud computing are allowing more and more people to shift to remote work and live the digital nomad lifestyle. There are a growing number of roles for which digital nomadism is now an option: software engineers, copywriters, designers, as well as virtual tutors, recruiters, and attorneys – although these are traditionally face-to-face jobs, the explosion of remote tools have made these professions compatible with digital nomadism.
What You Need to Get a Remote Data Science Job
There are more and more opportunities for Data Scientists who want to work remotely, and not only within the tech-industry: companies in the healthcare, education, and sales industries are also looking for qualified DS candidates looking for virtual work.
Websites where you can find remote data scientist jobs are RemoteOK, WeWorkRemotely, and RemoteML, as well as Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour. If you lack work experience, these platforms are also a good place to start making a name for yourself as a Data Scientist.
Other than a good Wi-Fi connection and a laptop, there are a few reliable cloud-computing services that most companies use as part of their infrastructures, such as AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure, and GCC (Google Cloud Console).
Adapting To The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
While the digital nomad lifestyle is appealing to many and has its advantages, it has also its weaknesses. Even if you land your dream Data Science remote job, there may be a few challenges you have to face.
Lack of social interaction: One of the issues with working remotely is the lack of social interaction. Not just people working from home, digital nomads too may feel lonely or isolated – unless you are an extroverted person, you won’t make new friends anywhere you go within minutes, and it’s never easy living away from family and friends. Although traveling and working abroad is a great opportunity to expand your social network, it takes time to make deeper connections with people.
Pay cuts for remote workers: Major tech firms in Silicon Valley have started cutting the salary of employees who have permanently left the Bay Area. In May, Facebook announced that it would allow employees to work from home forever, but their pay would be adjusted according to where they decide to live.
In the future, if you choose to permanently work remotely you may see a reduction in your salary if you relocate to a less expensive city. This is something to take into consideration, especially if you plan to move to a place where the cost of living is low.
The workspace: Having the freedom to work wherever you like is great, but while you can set up your home office and make it whatever you want, you can’t do the same if you work from a coffee shop or a shared space. Working from a crowded place also means more distractions and noise.
Working remotely, both from home and anywhere else, has its downsides. Setting boundaries, especially if you have kids, can be particularly difficult, as well as switching off – it’s hard to separate work from leisure time when you’re working in the same place you live in.
In the office, it’s easy to ask co-workers for information or updates when they are in the same room or a few steps away, but you don’t have this when you work remotely. Of course, there are tools such as Slack, Zoom, or Google Hangouts that you can use to communicate with your team, but video calls and chats are not the same as in-person conversation. Virtual conversations make it harder to read someone’s emotions and attitudes and to bond with coworkers.
A New Way Forward
There is no denying that the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of remote working, and I believe that things will never be the same again, even when the pandemic is over. As companies are adapting to the new normal by providing flexible work arrangements to their employees, more and more individuals can embrace the digital nomad lifestyle – Data Scientists as well.