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Ask HN: How to make a career working remotely?
435 points by thingamarobert on Nov 1, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments
I hold a PhD in applied machine learning, and have been working as an engineer at a startup for about 10 months now. A few weeks ago I moved away from where my company is located for a few months for personal reasons and have been working remotely. I really like this setup, as I'm in the comfort of my home throughout the day and have the discipline to carry out my work despite the change of place. And it is something I expect to do often in the future as my wife is in a profession that requires her to be physically present when dealing with her clients, and I realised that there may not always be the most interesting opportunities for me in some places where we live together (for example now).

This got me thinking about what I should pay attention to if I wanted to have a successful career working remotely. What kind of companies are more open to allow this form of work? How about freelancing? Are there any forums or groups online where I can find more information about working remotely? I have little idea about this as I have always been physically present at my place of work during the past 9 years of my professional life.

I thought this would be a very good place to get various points of view. Thanks in advance for any useful information you have that you share!




One thing to look out for is remote-first companies, not just remote-ok companies. Zach Holman has a good post on this: https://zachholman.com/posts/remote-first/

If you're one of few people in the company working remotely (or worse: one of few in your team), you get cut off really easily. Remote practices won't be up to scratch (because most people aren't using them), meetings will happen in person and dialing you in will be a chore, and things won't work as well. You'll hear about major events by email that everybody knew about last week from office chatter. This isn't to say it'll be a disaster, but it'll be less effective, and less fun.

Companies where everybody works remote by default meanwhile are a different ballgame. Everybody understands how remote interactions should work, and that's what gets used to get everything done. People are good at using the tools and processes required to pull this off well, and the company will be better at managing solutions to the downsides of remote work (by flying everybody into a summit to see each other in person every 6 months, for example, or covering coworking space costs). You're no longer the great developer they want _despite_ you working remotely - you're now one of many people, all working remotely, and all working together on the same playing field.


Yes.

Management remotely when everyone else is co-located is even worse. For instance, there was a nasty bug discovered late last week, and I didn't find out about it until Monday morning, and that's MY team. I feel like I look like an idiot to my superiors, and is one of the reasons I'm moving back to be co-located.

I started at this company in the office as a developer, and went remote after about 3 years because of personal reasons (actually remote - I moved 5 hours away). That's normally not really an issue with my company - a good chunk (maybe 40%?) of our developers are remote, so we're used to it.

However, shortly after I went remote (about a year), I moved into management, and all hell broke loose. I feel I'm not as effective as I could be because of my team, I'm the only one that's remote. I find myself finding things out after the fact, having less effective 1:1's because of the remoteness, I find it hard to build the relationships that are vital in management.

I'm moving back "home", so to speak, in June directly because of this. My wife has been very understanding, as it was mostly because of her that we moved away in the first place (pursuing her career).


You probably considered this already but, could you move to a technical management position?

I understand that working remotely while having to manage people can't be easy either way, but could being in the tech side make it easier or not really?


Oh and that in the company some people can view your remote working as a special treatment and there will be an active look out for on-premise replacement - which doesn't help with maintaining healthy relations. If company is not remote first, having contractor relationship is much healthier in my opinion.


Right. I am currently working in one, where I'm the only remote guy. The already tried to replace me.


Yep - happened to me too. Was working in a team where everyone was working remotely. Then a few things went wrong and one of the directors blamed the "remoteness", set up an office, and gradually forced all the remote employees to either come to the office or get out.


Best people are always seeing the others as problems. ;)


I've been working remotely for ten years and I also strongly agree. In a remote-only company you're a team member like any other. When the org simply "tolerates" remote work there is always the sense that you're the outsider.


Seconding that. Our company is 100% remote. Before that, I worked remotely for a company that had an office -- the difference is night and day.


Like many others I agree with this. My company is completely distributed (we prefer "distributed" over "remote" because we aren't remote from anything) and has employees in 50+ countries.

There was a pretty good book written a few years ago by a former employee of ours about how distributed work and culture go together: http://scottberkun.com/yearwithoutpants/


I agree with this. One middle ground that I have found to exist, between totally distributed and all in one office is the multiple distributed offices model. If the development team is scattered among several corporate offices, they tend to meeting using video chat and slack and a remote person can drop right into the team without issue.


I agree with you. I work in a team split into two and it used to be balanced between the two locations (Berlin & Zurich) but then Zurich had an additional engineer there and I immediately felt the difference of another person there coz the other person in Berlin is the Product Manager, therefore the inbalance is even greater.


Would it then make sense to join a company that is mostly composed by remote workers?

Not sure how easy that would be in case of ML. But in other areas it's not impossible. E.g. GitHub.

I'm sure other HN readers will have much more info.


That said, I've heard it's much more challenging to get jobs at remote-first companies because they have a larger pool to draw on. Does anyone know if this tends to be the case?


Getting the job - not necessarily harder, but keeping it - definitely.

The thing is that these companies need their remote employees to be persons with exceptionally strong discipline who are also self driven.

So you can be a very good engineer that also performs given tasks within a reasonable timeframe, but if the person managing the team has to constantly hold your hand (which is harder remote) or you are too passive you'll be fired quickly.

Regarding the skill level (at least what I've seen until now): Yes, generally these people have more experience than the average engineer (of course I'm not talking about the average Google or Facebook engineer here), but it's nothing insurmountable, almost anyone could do it provided the will to improve.


I've been working for a 100% remote company for 4 years now, and I'd advise that you market yourself as someone that has done it before. Remote work is a skill set - the discipline to work a full day but not overwork, knowing the tools for communicating without seeing your coworkers more than a few times a year, and having built a space and culture in your home and family to be productive without letting the home life disrupt the work... while at the same time, sometimes you do run off for lunch with your spouse or go see a kid's activity at school, and make up the time later.

There is a whole different work ethic and discipline involved, and being someone who already knows all this is a value to a remote company. Because even though everyone can learn and figure out these details... not everyone ends up being good at being remote, so a successful history is a nice bonus when hiring.


To add to this, I've had interviews for remote positions where it was a bit of problem that I hadn't done remote before. I've seen this in many remote job posts too, companies hiring for remote positions aren't fond of having it be the first remote job for the applicant.

If you have previous remote experience, make sure to highlight it.


Yes, having experience in something you get paid for is great for the person that pays you. But do you suggest lying for it? Looks a little like it. And I don't think that will work.


wat. He said he has been doing it for a bit now, and is just looking for advice on how to keep doing it?


The fundamentals of being a highly effective and valued team member and employee are actually the same.

That said, perception is reality and being remote does add some friction to certain aspects of the job and the way the team works. If you take a proactive approach these can be managed or overcome, leaving you with just the benefits of working remote.

Things that come to mind: - Written communication: Crisp emails and IM that get the message across quickly. Know when to optimise for speed and for run.

Some things that come to mind:

- Verbal communication: take the time to speak with your team mates. Depending on the culture this may mean you never talk work by phone/Skype but you should still speak to everybody occasionally.

- Establish a rythym that works for you and the team. Be present and visible in ways that demonstrate and reinforce your reliability and commmitment. Just make sure you're adding value and not just making noise because you want to compensate for being remote (or not actually delivering).

- Respect other folks' time (and timezone, work arrangements).

- Actively contribute to the team and workplace culture. Don't just follow the lead of others but make suggestions and/or take the lead on initiatives when appropriate.

[edit: Formatting]


+1 to all the points made.

I have been working remotely for a while now. These are the things I learned.

- time difference matters. It is better if there is some overlap with at least some people in the team.

- "showing up" (via various communication channels) have more value at one of the places I worked than the actual work.

- I was consistently rated less compared to others because my interactions were only over video, once or twice a week and via chat channels and it could never make up for face-to-face communication. This is highly subjective. At another place, I never had such problems.

- Expect to add a lot of stress in your life (again subjective).

- Pair programming with colleagues over video/google-hangout can be extremely valuable.

- video calls mostly suck, especially if you have low upstream bandwidth (which was the case with me).

- make plans to travel and stay with your colleagues for a week or so, once in a few months.

- "everyone being remote" is better than one or two people alone being remote and the rest in a central office. That way, the company is "set up" for remote working and people take care to put everything online in a wiki etc.. Not so, with a centralized office with only a few people working remotely.

- It is also very easy to get burned out working more hours, especially if the other side is in an overlapping your day. It happened to me many times. This needs fixing at org level and should meet the expectations of everyone.

HTH.


The addition of stress is under-represented when talking about working remotely. The more you have going on at home, the worse it is. You have to work out whether the "convenience" pays for the loss of clean separation from family life.

The family will claim to understand that you have to work, sometimes (often?) uninterrupted. But the perception, especially for children, is that you are there; just not participating.

This segues into to the other point I found pertinent - everyone being remote is definitely better. This is currently how I work, but I was previously a "minority" remote worker. Depending on the organisation, there is a whole political architecture that others navigate/recruit, but that you cannot access to the same degree. It doesn't matter how good you are, you can be undermined by people who resent advice/change/correction/omission/etc. This contributes its own stress.


Yes, totally agree with your observations. I am also hoping to eventually move into the "everyone is remote" model. Minority remote model just does not work for me. I consistently get rated less in performance appraisals despite doing more contributions to the project. This is also because I have to deal with a stupid manager...


  "showing up" (via various communication channels) have more
  value at one of the places I worked than the actual work
Reminds me of a Dilbert strip:

  When you don't have anything to do, walk fast and look worried.
  Carry a notebook, it helps.
I even heard a coworker say: "It doesn't matter whether the work gets done as long as you are worried about your work."


A useful tip even for a hard-worker when times are bad.


About 10 years ago, I met for the first time someone who was working remotely. I hate commuting (As an employee, I have always lived close to my office) and at that point, I had decided this was what I wanted. It took me about 3 years to get to that point. Here is how it worked for me:

- Start freelancing. I started by negotiating with my employer to transform a full-time job into a part-time one. This is a great way to start.

- Accept what you find until you can get 100% freelance, but have a preference for remote work. Be ready to cut your rates to work remotely.

- Grow your network and reputation until you can have 100% of remote work at a decent rate.

Now we moved to a countryside we like with my wife, we have a house for half the price of an apartment in the city we used to live. I now say upfront to clients that I can only work remotely. I occasionally go to meetings in Tokyo (which is a bit less than 2h away from where I live) but Skype works most of the time.

Be available. Be reactive. Be ready to make mistakes that will cost you time and stress. Be ready to have some shitty clients that will bitch and won't pay. It takes a few years before you get to a level where the stress is lower than an employee job but it is worth it IMHO.



A very practical piece of advice! Thanks. This is roughly the picture I had in my mind about how to progress. My mother (who is a full-time consultant now) did this. She'd work at the government office during the first half of the day, then offer consultations during the rest of the day at a private establishment. She carried this on for several years and finally, when she retired from government service, she went into full-time practice and that seems to be working very well for her. The time-line of this is much longer than what you managed but I think her focus was never to quit government service asap.

Congratulations on where you are! I'd love for something like this in my career.


Thanks!

> Congratulations on where you are!

To give you an idea of the kind of freedom you get, I am actually French, used to live in Lyon, and married a Japanese woman. When I reached 100% of remote work, I told my wife "say, wanna go live in Japan?". When I told my clients I was moving, so they should expect a 1-2 weeks of downtime on my side, I had an important client in Australia. His reaction was "Cool! Our timezones will be closer!"


My situation is very similar, actually. My wife and I are of different nationalities and would ideally like to have the flexibility to move to each others home countries when needed and still be able to work without much hassle. She's making an effort on her part, and this is a part of my effort :).


My remote clients were pleased when I told them I was considering being available an hour earlier every day.

Just one of the bonuses of moving to a cheaper, warmer timezone.


I didn't enjoy working part time only because I felt like I fell out of the loop.

I'd come to work and a bunch of stuff was already done, etc.

So I'd say, try and make sure that you don't get so caught up in new stuff that you're no longer productive with old stuff. That can also be very frustrating.


I've been remote working for 12 years. My opinion as to a successful remote working relationship is as follows:

  - Trust. You need to build it on both sides. Your employer
    needs to trust you to deliver what they expect. You need
    to trust your employer to build their team to include you 
    even though you're sometimes not so visible.

  - Space. Get yourself out of the home office and into a 
    local coworking space. You'll thank me for it, otherwise 
    you'll go slowly crazy at home.

  - Daily contact. Make sure you have daily contact with 
    other members of your team. If you're Agile, then a daily 
    standup by video feed helps people to remember you exist!


What's the difference between being onsite and working 'remotely' at a coworking space?


You get to pick 'everything'. Your desk, chair, co-working space, schedule. On-site can be 1-2 hours of commute, while you can find a co-working space in 15 mins of walking distance maybe.


How many interesting tech employers are based in Whistler?

For Whistler, substitute the tropical island, rural idyll, or cheap city you prefer.


I've been working for my company* for nine years, last two remote. My move was absolutely for lifestyle reasons, and was supported thoroughly by my managers of the day, and my current manager still.

What has been interesting to watch though is the culture clash that happened when my employer was acquired by a similar company without a remote workforce, where we'd always had some.

My original company has essentially gone away as the office was closed, keeping only remote employees. A few from that city were kept, and too are now remote from the head office thousands of km away. I had the advantage of already being remote, and kept because I provide value. I don't know how likely it is though that new remote employees will get hired. As an ironic twist, the HR director is one of the newly-remote employees without an office base.


For me it's about 1000 kilometres.


The coworking thing depends on how you setup your life outside work. Find many things to do and you'll be OK. But if you work at home and spend the rest of your time at home, that could be bad.

Spending one or two days at a coworking space could still be good to find customers, if you're a freelancer, or just to chat with somebody at the coffee machine.


Loved your advise. I've been working remotely for almost 2 years and will never go back to an office, but it's good to still have a relationship in a coworking space and weekly meetings with everyone.


Exactly. I still get the office social life, and regularly chat to fellow co-workers by the coffee machine or go to lunch together, but I only have to walk two minutes round the block to get to work. My primary client is in another country so commuting wouldn't be viable anyway.


There are a variety of good sites that allow remote job postings. I'm looking now.

- https://stackoverflow.com/jobs

- https://angel.co

- https://remoteok.io/

- https://weworkremotely.com

Good luck.


Years ago I got a holiday work visa for Australia. I was working for start-up at the time. I worked remotely for them for a few months, which with my savings, help me get situated in Melbourne. The start-up started struggling. They let go of several critical researchers. Eventually I was let go as well, but I had already found other contracts in Australia.

Years later I had a break in and decided to take off on a year sabbatical. It was the most amazing year of my adult life:

http://khanism.org/perspective/minimalism/

I've lucked into working remotely a few days a week for my current company. I actually find I'm more productive working away from open workspaces.

Still, I'm not satisfied with working as a developer. I've considered saving up for a year and then attempting to find grants or use crowfunding sites so I can take a break and work on my own projects for another year.


Thanks for sharing that blog post. I just started a sabbatical, and it was encouraging to read about yours. I'm thinking of going to graduate school on my return since I left for the industry right after my bachelor's.

Would enjoy reading an update of your journey to see how your next sabbatical goes.


Lots of good information here already, but I also wanted to throw in Zapier's Guide to Remote Work[1]. It's very long but provides a ToC for you to jump to what's relevant to you, but the gist is that it discusses the pros and cons of remote work from both the employer and the employee's point of view.

You're probably learning many of the benefits of remote work already (but there might still be some tips for you in there to get the most of it), but it's also handy to know what the upsides (and potential downfalls) are for your employer(s) so you can better see issues from their point of view, make a more compelling case while interviewing for a remote position, and so on.

I definitely second the suggestion to look for remote-first companies. After interviewing around and getting through a half dozen interview processes to finally get an offer "as long as I was comfortable potentially relocating later if remote doesn't work out", I ended up completely omitting all companies that weren't 90+% remote from my job search. When you can actually work remotely, the whole world is your job market -- you can afford to exclude companies that are on the fence about remote work.

Good luck!

[1] https://zapier.com/learn/the-ultimate-guide-to-remote-workin...


This is great! Seems like someone made a new post with just this link and that's trending on HN :).


First, it's important to legally separate yourself from a company so that you can dictate where and how work is completed.

In the U.S. this requires establishing a S-Corp, LLC, or C-Corp.

Second, don't consider it freelancing. Professionals are independent consultants or contractors. They manage their own sales, marketing, invoices, billings, healthcare, tools, and benefits.

Third, working remote is actually your home office. Deduct a portion of your rent/mortgage to sub-lease space for your office.

There are easily 10 more items I could add to this list, but these 3 establish a legal point of no return for making a career working remotely.


> In the U.S. this requires establishing a S-Corp, LLC, or C-Corp.

Also check your county regulations on whether or not you need to apply for a business license.


I suggest in spare time contributing to open source. This will build a good profile for prospective employers from future. As working remotely you may not be visible much in scene, however if you have strong presence in open source space, you will stay visible and prove how much you get done being self motivated. And any future company , most remote employers love self motivated, accomplished team members. And your online open source contributions helps validate that.


This is a very good point! I do collaborative work regularly on GitHub but on private repositories of the company with their assigned GitHub account. I should look into how this history can be joined with my public profile which has very little activity as I do other programming on Gitlab and Bitbucket.


Exactly I am in same situation. I work remotely, most of my work is to private repo on github.

I have set it up so that my private contributions are shown in my profile progress chart, no access to private data but activity looks good sign.

Good luck :-)


You can chose to display contributions to private repositories on Github but it has to come from your account.


There's some great info/thoughts in this thread already. I'd add that different people would define "Successful career" differently.

If what you're after is essentially setting yourself up for being a "valuable resource no matter if onsite or remote" then as long as you're on top of your game tech chops - wise and there are companies out there willing to allow ppl with your skillset to work remote - you'll be alright.

For some ppl "successful career" entails getting "more responsibility" in their roles which is basically corp speak for getting into management/team lead positions. If that's your goal then your best bet would be looking for a "remote first" type company where everyone/most everyone is remote. Sure, you don't have to do this right away but keep in mind that it's very rare for a distributed tech team to be hiring external team leads/managers etc.

One other thing I'd add from my personal experience. Teams that aren't remote first but are looking for remote folks out of necessity (as in lack of "local talent") are not only more stressful to be on if you get the gig - they also tend to place the bar higher for remote candidates so one- get ready for hackerrank type challenges and two - have a github profile you won't be ashamed to share with the potential employer :)


I have spent last some years working on different projects, mostly remotely. What I have seen is that if you want to have a career in a specific company, try to find a company that has remote work in its DNA. That means, many or even most of the people are working remotely.

I have in practise seen that things usually don't work out well for the remote people, if the company has also a physical location where you have some "higher ranking employees" (project managers, architects, etc) as well as a certain amount of developers. If the company is not actively fighting against it, very soon you will end up with situation where things are discussed offline and those working remotely are left out. This can start very small. On the bigger meetings you hear certain things have already been de facto decided in the offline meeting. Instead on influencing, you are then just reacting.

This then leads to the most important thing for the remote worker trying to build a career: You need to fight this tendency to be left out. It is in remote workers interest that there are regular online meetings or gathering where everybody participates (even on daily basis). You need to gently remind people that you want to be involved in discussions as well. Be pro-active in Slack and try to push discussions to take place there. If the organisation is growing, push for quarterly or twice-a-year get togethers so that you have also physical contact with the new people. It makes a big difference for the remote communication when you've had a few beers with somebody.


1. Choose a career/specialty that allows you to work remotely. Physicians can't, SW Devs can.

2. Embrace occasional travel, invest in relationships when you travel. Spend time at their office(s), take people out for lunch and dinner

3. Actively invest in relationships online with slack/hipchat

4. Be at work before people and leave after them, make yourself visible. If folks see your emails and messages, they'll know you exist; if you are quiet, out of sight, out of mind

5. Choose a company that supports remote workers; or as we call it "employees." Whether it's remote first, or remote supported, make sure they really embrace it

6. Be top 5% of your profession or higher. Many will argue that being remote encumbers communication causing a handicap; overcome any perception of this handicap by being excellent at your job

7. Be excellent at your chosen specialty. Make your indispensable by not pissing people off while still being known as an independently minded principled thinker. Do things that benefit the business - add tangible value that is measurable. Don't be a sheep in a team - that makes you indispensable. Be the innovator and efficiency improver.

I worked on-site the first 10 years of my career, then at a remote office of a company, then remotely. I think the first 10 years allowed me to build the experience, skills, and relationships to allow me to work remotely.


I have been in software development for about 8 years and I have worked remotely for 4 of those. My opinion is that there is no way to have a fully remote-only working career in software. It is a perk that you may be able to get in some situations, but it is never guaranteed. Executives have this image in their mind of developers swiveling their chairs around and bouncing ideas off of each other, or sharing key insights randomly at the water cooler, that they just cannot give up (even though I believe it is a complete fiction). They have many names for this, like "synergy," "collaborative environment," etc. It's a specter that will haunt you as long as you choose to tele-commute.


I think everything boils down to finding an actual demand for your skill set. As long as some organization or an investor has a real problem to solve and you could convince them that you really have the ability and necessary training and experience, then it doesn't really matter how do you work and from where. You could always frame a contract not for hourly basis but on completion of the prototype, milestones, whatever you like.

Basically, you should imagine yourself as a specialized company doing sub-contracting in ML.

Finding a real demand and securing a contract is much harder than doing actual coding and modeling. There are literally thousands of guys who are smart enough to apply ML, especially now, when it became mainstream.

PhD is, of course, a huge advantage in the world of pointy haired bosses, HR and paper pushers. With it you, probably, are looking for a very high hourly rate instead of subcontracts. In this you probably would fail, because people who are willing to pay high hourly wages needed certain rituals to be performed publicly in return.


I've been working remote for about 9 years now and I'd really recommend getting your own space to work out of, somewhere that isn't your home. I didn't get my own space until a year or so ago and I wish I had done it sooner.

When your home is also your workspace it's very easy to never stop working. Being a New Yorker with most of my co-workers in SF or the valley, your 5 pm quickly becomes 9 pm. It's also very easy to isolate yourself at home, particularly during the winter. Being able to tell your co-workers you need to head home puts up boundaries.

If you live with someone the interruptions you'll get during the day are far more personal than if a co-worker comes over to talk or ask questions. People that don't code often don't realize the amount of concentration you need to get good work done, to them it's just you working on a computer, so what's the big deal if they interrupt you with life questions or tasks? It compounds and can become an issue if you're not careful.

For me a co-working space like WeWork doesn't fit my needs, but I went in on an old loft space in Brooklyn with some friends and it's great. I have a place to walk to every morning, I have a workbench with tools for any hardware things I want to hack on when I don't have client work, I have all my math and cs books here, I can take lunch with people in the space if I feel like it, etc.

And if the weather is bad or I'm feeling sick, I can always opt to work from home for the day.

[p.s. we have a couple desks that just opened up if any HN people in NYC need space!]


Depends where you work. If your workplace allows you to make a career on your skills (assuming you have those) then you might have a chance even if you work remotely. If you work in an organization (or don't have the technical skills) that needs non technical skills for career progression (i.e. bullying, ass licking, good luck, perseverance) then remote is unlikely to work for you. First step for you is to identify the organization you work at.


I've been working remotely since the beginning of this year and was having the same questions, so I approached some experienced remote workers about the challenges that they face and how they overcome them. For me the “loneliness” aspect of a remote lifestyle (lacking colleagues etc) was a bit of a concern which led me to create a startup based around that very concept! I wrote down the learning points that I picked up from these experienced remote workers here:

http://www.theremotetrip.com/2016/11/02/challenges-every-rem...

Other articles that might help you: 1. 7 Tools that will boost a remote workers' productivity on the road every day: http://www.theremotetrip.com/2016/10/21/7-tools-will-boost-r... 2. How to negotiate a remote work agreement with your employer: http://www.theremotetrip.com/2016/10/12/how-to-negotiate-a-r...

Hope it helps.


Hunt for a job here: https://remotebase.io/companies


I've been working 40% remote (two days from home, three days in office) for just over twelve years. I'm employed as a developer, and I negotiated this arrangement when I joined the company. I have no experience of freelancing or self-employment.

As others have said, the key to making it work is trust and communication. Employers/management need to know that you are being at least as productive as you would be in a conventional office environment. And your team needs to know that you are making a fair contribution to getting things done. Each person in those groups will have a different default belief about what you are doing (working or slacking) in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Understand that, and use communication to address it.

So communicate appropriately. Some people suggest being super proactive on communication as a way of visibly signalling the effort you are making. I'm suspicious of this in a developer role, as you can end-up being thought of as noisy and self-promoting. Recognise that the way you communicate will probably need to change over time.

Find tools that work for you and your team, but don't get too preoccupied with tool selection. Its not the main issue.

Assuming an employer is open to remote working, I'd say that you need to: a) show a realistic understanding of how to make remote working work, and the problems that can occur; b) demonstrate that you are trustworthy and can work independently; and c) demonstrate that you can communicate effectively. This is going to be easier for an existing employer than a prospective one. being familiar with popular tools like hangouts/slack/skype will help.

Scott Hanselman [1] has some useful things to say about remote working. He's a PM at Microsoft.

Finally, recognise that it might not work for you. You might get lonely, or marginalised/overlooked, or just want a change. Don't lock yourself into one way of working for ever.

[1] https://www.google.co.uk/#q=remote+site:hanselman.com


Check https://teleport.org if you want to compare cities based on life quality data. Also gives you recommendations which cities fit best to your personal preference.


Check out Cisco jobs. The company is built around WebEx and working remote.

Source: worked here 3 years, enjoy working with a fully virtual team.


How to search remote jobs at Cisco? Openings there seem like a regular corporate ones.


oracle hires remote employees, too. so does redhat


Redhat does remote, but FWIW I had a very negative experience with their hiring process.


Can you share more details?


After interviewing, they strung me along for weeks, repeatedly promising me that they'd get back to me soon about whether or not they wanted to proceed. In the end, they never called me back at all.

This was especially frustrating because it was my first-choice job prospect, so I didn't actively pursue other decent opportunities.


If you know what you do, pay attention to tennis. There's quite some money in tennis predictions. I know people who don't really know a lot about data mining and don't have a formal education in the field (and some of their 'math apparatus' sounds absolutely lame and laughable) who are making mid to high six figures in tennis. One guy even switched there from such an obviously attractive field as poker - a guy who already has an an excellent lifestyle from passive investments alone, and he's 32. If you can apply real data science there, and big data approach, mining a lot of data about tennis player, tournaments, surfaces, etc. etc., you can probably make millions. This isn't some temporary thing: bookies can't make better quality lines because they aren't offering odds reflecting real probabilities, they offer odds reflecting people's likelihood to bet on either side - and these are different things. And lines at betting exchanges are influenced by bookies, who make the bulk of the market, anyway.


No. It's a zero sum game. Might be some hay while it's sunny but It'll dry up once you have big well financed teams throwing enough IQ and compute power at it.


If you are skilled you can find it. A couple thoughts:

1 - Go where it's the norm.

2 - If you can't follow #1 then be attached to your desk and phone. People won't give you the benefit of the doubt if you take 30 mins to return a call or email.

3 - Do what you know. It is tougher to learn on the job remotely.

4 - Deliver tremendous value and make sure people know it. People need to know why you're invaluable.


I have been working remotely for a few months now after spending many years in offices and I agree I am much more productive.

You might want to check out https://www.toptal.com

You might also like reading this book "Remote" written by BaseCamp founders. I read it last weekend and I think it's great.


+1 for Toptal as I'm currently working using them.

It probably won't suit everyone and I don't see it as a long term full-time thing, but it can help a lot to: - start working remotely, and start making money - to try the remote/nomad lifestyle and/or the time you find something else - to make some money while working on a side project (or a startup, or whatever) - to make some additional money while have a full time job - on weekends, evenings, whatever

I've tried websites like upwork, freelancers and guru.com before and the big advantage with Toptal is the easy and short time it take to hop on new missions. rom my experience, there is - so far - no need to compete with other freelancers to start working, and you can hop on some new stuff within a week or so. At a very reasonable rate.

On the long term, I think joining a remote team and/or a community of freelancers/nomads is definitely a must to avoid isolation.

Good luck :)


My experience with Toptal wasn't great, I tried to join and got a programming puzzle for the first interview (actually an online coding test), which was barely tangential to actual programming experience. They also want you to complete an unpaid project, which I heard takes around 30 hours.


From my experience, they weren't puzzles. They were pretty straightforward to do if you are familiar with arrays and hashes/dictionaries and when to use which.


Mine were different, the solution to one was literally "return len(x) - x.count(a)". If you didn't realize that, you spent an hour battling off-by-one errors.


I sent this to my ex-employer along with my resignation letter. Didn't help me, but they are now accepting remote workers.


Thanks! I'm about to order the book. And the website is also very interesting.


Remote worker here for the last 3 months pulling a silicon valley salary. Here is how it happened. 1) Domain/specialization. Thought I've got generalist skills as well, have lots of years in a specialized category of enterprise software. 2) Flexible Company. My employer has a small minority of remote developers. 3) Negotiated it up front. I felt the initial offer was below what I wanted and was worth and they were not the type of outfit that payed very high by valley standards. They wouldn't budge on salary so I proposed remote at the salary there were offering. They countered with remote after one year. I said ok. Busted my butt for one year and here I am back in my home state where I can afford a decent house.


I have the following rules for working remotely. It's more for contractors, so may not be directly applicable to people who work remotely for an employer.

1. More than one customer. Even if you're earning less money, two badly paying customers are better than one well paying customer.

2. Invoicing is always prompt, and payment must also be prompt. Walk away from anyone that holds onto payments.

3. Be scrupulous with the time you charge out, and be aware that if you do this, you'll find it takes 4 hours of a day to do two hours work. Use rescustime or timesnapper to monitor where your time is actually going.

4. Never turn down work.

Don't know if these are especially good rules, but they work for me. I'm on about my 5th year of being a remote worker.


I have been working remotely for some time now (years).

I am not doing it all the time as I like to be around people every once in a while (but having decent noise cancelling headphones for surviving those open spaces).

The key thing is indeed discipline.

Current tools support this fully. The level of proficiency with these tools directly affects the quality of the interactions. This includes their use by the other parties.

In 2014, I spent my whole year working on a project remotely, from idea to release and support. It was super nice and paid nicely.

It is important to be part of an open source community I'd say as it helps in asking trusted people about various things. In that regard, Slack is working well (as is Discord). Appear.in is also very useful.


I own a small web-based company with six employees (plus myself), all of whom work remotely. When I hired our first employee back in 2009, we both worked remotely because there were only two of us. I always assumed that eventually we'd have to get an office, but I had no desire to do so, so wanted to put it off as long as possible. I don't recall exactly when, but at some point between then and now I realized that it was actually possible to run a business (at least one where the product is a website) entirely remotely. Obviously that's old news now, but it was quite a revelation at the time.

Anyway, from this experience I have a few thoughts. What type of company works well? My (obviously biased) perspective is that the best companies for remote work are the ones that are all-remote. While there are certainly exceptions, I've seen plenty of cases where companies allow remote work, but remote employees end up being second class citizens, perpetually out of the loop. If the company is all remote, that won't be an issue. That said, even a mixed team could be effective (with a bit more effort) if they have an excellent set of tools and processes.

Slack is huge, and has made our work much easier than it was before. I know there are other group chat clients that purport to do the same thing, but I haven't found any that do it as seamlessly as Slack. Similarly you want to see that they have good project tracking software (we use Pivotal Tracker, but there are a number of quality options), and that they have clear guidelines in place for how to use it. Some project tracking software is more opinionated, some less, but even with Pivotal being one of the more opinionated options, we have done quite a bit of experimentation and optimization over the years to make our process as effective as possible. Any team that does remote work well will have experimented with their processes for keeping everyone in sync, and they should be able to define the results of that work.

You can also learn a lot from the interview process. The most important element of an effective remote team is effective communication. Since that's what interviews are all about, it gives you a great insight into how they do things. If communication is poor during the interview - if they have you doing silly things like writing algorithms over the phone for instance - it's probably a warning sign. On the other hand, I'm not saying this is the only effective way to interview, but what we've found works well is to give candidates a few 'assignment' problems to work on, on their own time. We set up a repository for these and have them submit pull requests with their solutions. Then we review their code and make comments for discussion, just as we do when a feature is completed by a member of our team. The assignments are as minimal as possible so as not to waste time, while still giving a decent insight into how the person works. (A much better insight than a traditional interview.) Again, this isn't novel, nor is it the only way to do things, but I think it does demonstrate to prospective hires that we've thought this stuff through, and are committed to building an excellent team. I would hope to see something comparable from any hiring team, but I believe it is especially important for remote teams because good communication and effective processes are that much more important without the face to face crutch to fall back on.

Anyway, congrats on heading in this direction, and putting thought into the kind of company you'd like to work for. Remote work can be fantastic; These days I would never want to work any other way.


I started a consulting company about 6 years ago, worked on site with a few clients, and eventually they just didnt mind me not being there as long as the work got done. So now I have complete autonomy to come and go as I please.

I usually spend at least one week in the office because I like the routine and my gym is right there, but 75% time is spent working from other places.

Moral of the story: If you consistently deliver, I dont see why this should be a problem, as long as you dont want to work for a big corporation (FB, GOOG, etc)


I had a profile lurking at Upwork.com, and while the platform itself is "race to the bottom", there are quality clients and good freelancers there too. I have been on both hiring and freelancing end of the table.

I ended up working for 2 years for same client full-time. Best job I ever had, and 100% remote.

So my advice, create yourself a good profile at upwork.com and who knows what may happen. In my case, client found me, I was not looking for anything serious in there.


One easy thing I've found was to simply charge less. if you substract all your expenses - commute, office, lunch and coffee money, you can get away with charging a lot less. That way you can target a wider range of roles (roles that would pay too little for onsite work) and clients can justify your remote demands - they pay less than for onsite work.


You might find this interview with data scientist Tim Hopper interesting. He works remotely and comments on tools his company uses to enable remote work.

http://computationalimagination.com/interview_tim_hopper.php


I may suggest a different route which may be more difficult, but will allow you infinite freedom. Create a small product that you can rent for 100 to 500 to 1000 to companies in your field.


The information security industry has a large remote workforce


As a "forever globbetrotting" remote worker, I wanted to share some thoughts about it with you.

First thing first: do NOT ask yourself what a company can do for you (remote ok or not), showcase yourself and what YOU can do for a company. Here is what I mean: I've been working two years in a company which is definitely not remote friendly. I wasn't even thinking about working remotely, but life is full of surprises. I'm now (remote) fullstack lead developer of that exact same company, having 2 offices with developers spread over the world. I participate meetings, answer my phone line as if I were with all of them. We all admit I'm way more productive at work, some (including my boss) saying I may be paying an Asian guy to be "answering every time they need me". It's not about convincing each historical company to be remote friendly, it's about these companies fit the market (as they always do to keep on making money) if they want to keep on hiring most talented professionals!

If you know your stuff, you are the lucky guy. Find the job YOU love, and find it where it is. Convince them you are the guy, be opened to spend one or two weeks with your team few times per year, wherever it is, and be clear that your teammates timezone is the one (yes, you may have to be online for a meeting at the middle of the night, but the week-end after while your colleagues will be somewhere fun not that far, you will be at Niagara Falls, visiting Dubai, or sailing a lagoon in the Indian Ocean). Then just do it, you will rock it, both of you being happy with it. And do not fear realizing you work better in an office with teammates.

Having to keep a budget while travelling, I would definitely NOT recommend to be freelancer without some recurring work from multiple well-known clients (who really pays). This is NOT something to treat lightly. No money: nothing good for you, and your family. Clients do NOT contact you just because you say you are good and your website is awesome (I've been running two companies for 10 years before, I promise I know my stuff). Consider it thoroughly with your wife, even if she makes enough money for the whole family. Many (but not all) freelancer testimonies are fakes or pure dreams, it's not rare digging around you will find them always staying in Asia because it's inexpensive and they do not make enough money to get elsewhere!

Last words, regarding freelancer stuff or nomadism, keep in mind this is getting huge nowadays, and becoming a business for a lot of people who just think about making money from you with fancy website you may need (or not). I'm pretty sure you will easily find links (if not some on this thread already). Just be conscious about what it really helps you to. Having "a community" to answer questions is free as you can see ;)

In a train from Aveiro to Porto, Portugal, I wish you fame and fortune for your career! But fortune may be enough ;)


Check out nomadlist.com


I'm actually on the lookout to recruit Machine Learning PhDs, specifically to work remotely, either on a temp fixed time or more permanent contractor basis. :) How can I best reach you to pitch you what I had in mind?


Post a reply to this month's "Who's Hiring?" and be sure to mark it as REMOTE https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12846216




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