Working Remotely

I’m going to be a senior next year, so I’m starting to think about looking for jobs. But I’m not so sure that I want to head into the working world in the traditional way. I’ve always wanted to be a bit more “free” than most jobs would let me be. I want to be able to move around a lot and take time off.

Ideally, what I’d like to do is to work remotely while driving around in an RV or a bus or something. That way, I could always be on the move and seeing new places, but I’d also be able to hold down a good job. My problem is that I’m not so sure that this plan is feasible. Experts, what do you think? Is it possible to work without staying in one spot?

Just a few short years ago, the idea of a person earning a living at a 9 to 5 job while also moving around in far-flung places was pure nonsense. But, thanks to the incredible pace of technological advancement, it is now possible to do just that.

While it is certainly not common to live a nomadic life while holding down a steady job, there are more and more examples every year. There are young families living a life on the go in RVs. The culture of RVing has changed as young professionals have begun to show up in a space that once played host almost exclusively to vacationers and retirees. And it’s not just RVs: some folks in vans, others in buses (including converted--and un-converted--old school buses).

It’s all possible, experts say, by the swift advancement of technologies that make it possible to work remotely. Text, voice, and video chatting programs are more advanced, feature-laden, and secure than ever. Revolutionary video conferencing technologies can bring together far-flung professionals and make everyone feel as if they are in the same room. With video conferencing and related technologies, companies can get the benefits of having their employees all in one room without, you know, actually having them all in one room!

It has long been possible to communicate using email and to work on a computer. But video conferencing and related voice- and video-chatting apps are making it possible to give remote work a more personal and professional feel, eroding stereotypes of basement-dwelling bloggers and geeky remote workers.

So how can you work remotely? Well, some full-time positions are remote work by default. Freelancers are also commonly remote workers. If you’re earning a reliable income working remotely, you could then buy a vehicle and start traveling--or take advantage of a program designed to help remote workers travel domestically or abroad.

In short, it is possible to make a living working remotely. But is it right for you? It may be--you certainly seem to be drawn to the idea. But it is also worth noting that the first few steps of your career are likely to be very important. It may be that your eventual success is what paves the way for you to gain increased and long-lasting freedom--valued employees can sometimes negotiate to make their position remote, for instance.

The choice, of course, is yours, but you may want to consider the many ways in which you could balance your long-term dreams with your near-term needs. For instance, you could target jobs that offer flexible or unlimited vacation days. Some jobs allow you to work some (but not all) days remotely, and some may even allow you to take those days in a row, enabling you to take that RV trip for part of your year while working at an office for the rest of the time. In today’s competitive market, employers are offering more and more perks designed to improve work-life balance--and since 68% of young job-seekers are interested in remote work, you are likely to see some remote work-related perks on offer. You should consider ways to make that work to your advantage. This is not a binary choice between working remotely from the very start of your career and working in an office all the time--you may be able to find a balance that gives you both a secure financial future and the freedom you crave.

“The key to success is for you to make a habit throughout your life of doing the things you fear.” -- Vincent Van Gogh

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