Archive for Remote Work
As you know I only do contract work. There are many reason for this such as making more money, less deductions, less taxes via a corporation, no EI/CPP withdrawals due to paying myself dividends and so on.
Over the past 3 years since I moved to a relatively rural area in New Brunswick, I’ve been working on remote projects for various large clients from Staples, to Sun Life Financial and Suncor Energy.
Over Christmas I took a little over a month off to enjoy some time with my family and work on other things such as guitar practice and teaching. I just finished a project and so I have decided to take some time off before starting another project.
So what do all these things have in common? The answer is simple: I asked!
There is a lot of common wisdom out there that is severely limiting. Usually contractors don’t take time off unless it’s a really long multi-year contract and when they do it’s only a week or two, as they would be disruptive to the client.
A lot of these rules don’t hold true if you decide not to believe it. I’ve said it many times before, just ask! My contract is almost seen as a big bucket and within that bucket I can choose when and how long to work. It doesn’t mean you have to work full-time the entire length of the contract.
That reminds me I also asked to work part-time since January and so I’ve been working about 6 hours a day since then. And with the time change (3 hours) between my client and I, this means I don’t start work (at home) until 11am. A few times here and there I have worked a couple hours more to get certain things done.
I’m also reminded that a lot of people think that busy projects require a lot of overtime. I actually rarely work overtime but I could if I wanted to. Being at home I get a lot done so when things get really tight you just have to buckle down and crack off a lot of code.
Many people think you can’t work remotely doing highly important IT work. The client only allows on-site work for example. Or I have to live in a big city and commute because that’s where the work is.
So the moral of the story is don’t accept common wisdom, it is commonly wrong!
I’ve received some emails and comments from some of you who were thankful that this wasn’t another ‘work at home’ scam site. I aim to provide my real life experiences – someone you can hopefully learn from and apply in your own life.
Recently I was interviewed on radio and in the newspaper about how I was able to move to a small town (on the outskirts) in the relatively impoverished province of New Brunswick.
If I were to describe myself in one word, that word could be ‘contrarian’. I see what everyone else is doing and realize there’s got to be a better way! Everyone trudges to work each day for hours stuck in rush hour traffic, they put in overtime to ‘look good’ while often not getting paid for it, their salaries have stagnated for years, what they do get paid is often reduced dramatically by all sorts of deductions, then they can’t save any money so many will have to work into their retirement age.
Okay so how do we get out of this rat race? If you are reading this blog post then you are at least on the right track. It all starts with recognizing something is wrong and the desire to change it. Many people have accepted their reality as fixed and don’t even question what they have to do each day to survive. So congratulations!
What I am about to talk about comes from a mindset that is determined to find a way. I can’t stress this enough. I question everything that I see and I have dogged determination to change it and won’t stop until I have achieved it.
Belief. Do you believe deep down that you can change your circumstances? You have to believe it’s possible, you just have to ‘find a way’. If you say ‘my job doesn’t allow me to work at home’ then you have already given up.
There are definitely certain jobs that require you to be physically present. I mean really present not just your boss wants to see your butt in the chair or you ‘need’ to be face to face. If this is the case you have a few options: move somewhere close to work so you can walk, or try to find a similar job in a small town such as retail outlets, banks, call centers, etc or finally change your career if it is that important for you to be happy. Sometimes there are work locations that are in the suburbs (or out of the downtown core) such as retail and even professional services (chiropractic, specialists, engineering consulting).
If you have a job that could be done at least part-time from home then you can set up a plan to work remotely. It could start as one day a week and expand from there. During my radio interview I mentioned that there aren’t all these ‘remote, work at home’ jobs begging me to take them. They aren’t readily available and managers are still hesitant to allow this, but it is slowly improving.
I believe that you have to put your desires out there. I have made my position clear and now when I get calls they know that I only accept contract positions (no employee positions) and that I work from home.
So the title of this post was ‘Just Ask!’ and so I want to emphasize that you have to ask for what you want. Don’t assume people will say no! Also plan a strategy ahead of time. Look for another job and find one that will allow you to work at home (for at least one day a week) and then go ask your boss if you can do the same. You have to negotiate from strength. If possible, try to have some savings which will empower you to make a change since you won’t be desperate to keep that job and accept whatever demands your employer places upon you.
Some of you may be thinking that ‘work at home’ means having your own internet business. This is a great idea and will be a good challenge depending on what you are selling. I also teach guitar via webcam and sell online guitar lesson courses and memberships so that could grow to a level for you that will allow you to do it full time. That would be an amazing way to go!
Here are some excuses that I hear all the time. Make sure these aren’t any of yours!
1. I have to work downtown. That’s where the office is and I need to work with other people.
2. My boss won’t let me work from home.
3. There are no jobs in my town so I have to move to where there are jobs.
4. I don’t have enough experience or skills to ask to work remotely.
5. If I ask my boss to work from home, he/she will say no.
6. I can’t work at home, there are too many distractions.
If you are thinking that you can’t achieve what I have then I’m sorry but you have already lost! So I hope you will remain positive and driven to achieve your goals.
What’s your favourite excuse? Post them in the comments below.
We received an aerial photo of our home recently and it’s pretty nice so I thought I’d post it here.
We love living in a rural area, although it’s not without it’s issues. We’re so happy we moved to the east coast and are looking forward to the spring and summer where lots of swimming in the lakes and oceans will be had!
We’re both working from home which is one of the few ways to making living in this area work!
Well that was exciting! I was interviewed and photographed for a newspaper article as well as a live CBC radio show early this morning at 6:45am.
I’m all about the individual taking charge, thinking outside the box and really focusing on what they want out of life.
During the interview Jonna mentioned that I had already made contacts and established myself before moving out. Yes, that’s exactly the point. If you want to work in a city, get the required skills and education and then make the move. Plan it out. But for others they can work in a local bank, real estate company, retail stores, even at university teaching – we have a university nearby. Or start a local business or online. As I mentioned I teach Skype guitar lessons (via webcam) online and sell courses and PDFs so there are many options available.
Many will discount our situation in many ways without considering. I hope you’re not one of them!
Often times it can be difficult to sell digital content online. Over the years I’ve had a heck of time trying to sell guitar lessons. This could be because of a variety of reasons: they don’t like what I’m selling (even though they like my YouTube videos and have watched 1.5 million times), they don’t have the money (young people on the Internet), they don’t want to pay for content, there’s too much competition, lack of follow up by yours truly, etc. I can’t pin all the blame on the consumers but the bottom line is I haven’t been able to make enough sales. I’ll say more on this a bit later.
Truthfully I’ve made the vast majority of my money from IT consulting. Businesses have the means (money) and desire to improve their business via technology. So sometimes you have to face facts and go where the money is. Luckily over the past couple of years I’ve been able to land remote, work from home contracts from my country home on the east coast. Technology allows us to work from anywhere nowadays (Skype, VPN software, email, Desktop sharing such as Webex, Live Meeting and even Google+ Hangouts.
I’m getting calls almost daily for integration projects using webMethods and turning them down since I’m finishing up a contract as we speak. I feel bad turning down projects with millions of people unemployed (at least in the US) but I need a bit of a break after this project. Also I’m getting into mobile development (phones/tablets, etc) so there is some potential there to go into that business.
People around the world are sharing content as part of the social experience. We can learn from each other so the teacher/student barrier is becoming blurred. I enjoy sharing what I learn, as I learn jazz guitar or mobile phone development for example. Selling content and knowledge is pretty difficult these days, although I think it can be done. The people I know that are successful seem to be mostly focused on internet marketing or things for enterpreneurs (ie things that have a financial motivating factor).
So the basic question is can digital content continue to be sold or will the prices tend to zero? Many people use the content to market their services, since that is a live, personal experience that can’t be digitized.
Let me know your thoughts below in the comments.
We moved from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Sackville, New Brunswick in June 2010 and finally sold our house in March 2011. It took 9 months to sell so I guess the economy isn’t that great. So I just had to book flights, hotel and rental car for a few days while we move stuff out of our house.
The return flight for 2 people was about $2,000, the hotel is over $100 per night and the rental is a few hundred dollars. The flights in particular are a lot more than they were a few years ago, probably in part due to higher fuel prices. There were no WestJet flights on Saturday out of Moncton and most of the flights leave at 6:30am. Plus there are no direct flights to Calgary, so we will be stopping in Toronto on the way. Needless to say flying has become an expensive, annoying pain in the butt, and I haven’t even talked about US security pat downs!
When I travel for an IT contract I either charge an increased hourly fee or add the travel costs (flight, hotel, car rental, meals) to the invoice. So the client ends up paying more money which is bad, right?
With all this annoyance and cost I hope that employers will start to take advantage of all the available technology such as Webex (for virtual meetings, desktop sharing), Skype (basically free long distance, desktop sharing, video chats), VPN connections (for secure connection to network) and of course email and phone.