Working from Anywhere and Everywhere: Part I

What if you could work from anywhere in the world? Where would you go? Your backyard? The mountains? Your bed? A remote island, perhaps? A “location independent” career is the ticket to cubicle freedom. Location independent means a career that does not require your physical presence in any one place for you to get the job done. You may still need to come into the office or travel to a client site occasionally, but for the most part your geographic location is irrelevant.

How is this possible? Location independence is dependent on advances in technology such as cell phones, skype, the internet, virtual conferences and webinars, scanners, and webcams. Cisco’s telepresence technology allows you to see a colleague across the world in a hologram as if they were sitting across the table from you. As these innovations facilitate faster communication and better business, companies are realizing the cost-savings of virtual employment. This means that virtual employees must be comfortable communicating in these spaces to function effectively and get ahead, even if they aren’t at the office. So, although you don’t need to be a cyber-wizard to work from home, you do need to understand computers, the internet and the range of rapidly changing communications tools that connect businesses around the world.

Although no morning commute sounds like a dream, location independent careers have their advantages and disadvantages. While you save money, time and resources working from wherever you please, you must be extremely self-disciplined since your boss isn’t there looking over your shoulder. It’s easy to say you are working from home and then set to work diligently tackling all of the odd jobs that need attention around your house. Setting up a home office or at least a clean workspace dedicated solely to your job is a good way to make sure you “go to work” while at home. And if you have the freedom to make your own hours, more power to ya. Just make sure to set your own deadlines and check in with yourself daily to ensure that you are keeping up with your workload. If you’re a perpetual explorer like myself, you can even fulfill your wander-lust with long-term travel as long as you make sure to carry all the tools on your back. Just because you are holed up in a hostel in Bangalore doesn’t mean you can’t take a 3 am conference call with the World Bank (been there.)

Working in your PJ’s certainly has its perks, but it can also be detrimental to your professional development if you’re not careful. Depending on your line of work, it can be lonely without office banter, and you may even feel out of the loop if you tune in remotely. Stay informed on goings-on at the office, find a mentor or champion of your work to let people know your most recent accomplishments and make a point to attend networking events (in the flesh and online) if you work for yourself. 

Next blog’ll look into types of careers that lend themselves to locational independence and find resources for those hoping to make the switch.