Getting Started in the Landscape of Online Work

Rohan Mathew

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2020 has been the most influential year yet when it comes to people moving into the online workspace, and 2021 looks to continue this trend further. Offering advantages as simple as a reduction in travel time to effects as positive as more relaxed mental states, this new landscape has grown too profound to ignore. Of course, remote employment can also be mystifying for those without experience. Understanding this, we wanted to investigate a few simple steps that readers can follow to make their mark in the online world, either for part-time employment, or something much more permanent.

Working with Your Portfolio

Many people moving into remote work are those with existing experience, so if this is you, you need to find a way to display it. While delivering portfolios in person can be (somewhat) simple, creating a strong digital representation of your work can be tricky. For this reason, we’d recommend one of the existing online portfolio tools to get started. With simple yet po]werful and flexible software systems and templates to work from, such tools can aid with elements like social and mobile integrations, analytics, SEO, and much more. Of course, a traditional resume is similarly necessary, but to prove your interest and experience in a field, portfolios are crucial. 

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Starting from Scratch

If you don’t yet have a portfolio to lean on then have no fear, it’s quite possible to leverage existing skills into a wide range of online careers, or even begin from nothing. The one major thing to note in this approach, however, is that you’re rarely going to be able to leap right into a well-paying job. Instead, you’ll probably have to build enough experience first that you know your current skills will translate, or demonstrate a capacity for professional-level skill if you lack knowledge of an industry. To both of these ends, the answer is going to be found in one of the major online career websites. Taking the freelancer route means you’ll have near-instant access to thousands of worldwide employment opportunities, many of which wouldn’t be available if relying on a traditional work scheme. As is typical with new entries into a workspace, you’re going to have to walk before you can run. Fortunately, the abundance of short-term projects in the digital sphere, and the comparative lack of hoops to jump through, means that this is again vastly streamlined compared to in-person work. Even better, having several smaller projects under your belt can be a great way to pad your resume, and make your interest that much more evident to potential future employers.

Considering Your Work Environment

As much as we can hate working in an office, there’s no doubt that most are far more accommodating to getting work done than the home environment. At work, you’re all business, where only certain co-workers act as major threats to productivity. At home, however, distractions can be prolific and profound. Some of our readers might be fortunate enough to afford a dedicated home office or studio, but for most of us, carving out a small workspace is a much more feasible approach. To this end, you’re going to want to essentially emulate as professional of a space as you can. While different people will experience distractions differently, starting from a clean environment and slowly adding elements until they start to affect your work has proven a workable strategy for many. “Home Office | San Francisco” (CC BY 2.0) by blupics Aside from the layout of computers and work equipment, you’re also going to have to manage the potentially much more difficult aspects of family members and house-mates. It doesn’t matter how perfectly considered your desk is; if you have somebody yelling in your ear every two seconds, work is going to be infinitely more difficult. Though headphones and chill-out online radio stations like Lo-Fi have become legendary in this regard, you’re ultimately going to have to work out a verbal agreement with those around you. Stay out of this room, stay quiet between these two times, no running around, or whatever works for your situation.

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Building Mental Experience

Once you’ve developed a direction and a workspace, the last step is gaining the right frame of mind. It might seem like the simplicity and purity of working online would make the change into this realm easy, but for some individuals, the change can be a real struggle. It’s not just about getting used to working physically alone, it’s about building skills and knowledge bases that might be completely alien. Communication skills are perhaps the biggest illustration of this idea, where succinctness and accuracy using only text might be far from what we know. On top of this, workers also might need to consider time zone differences, language barriers, local shorthand, and new forms of interpersonal dynamics. As in physical work, the best way to address shortcomings here is time, and concerted effort.

According to statistics from 2020 and then 2021, remote work is looking to become an enormously more popular part of global employment going forward. This could very much be the new normal, and so if it’s a form of work access you’ve been interested in, there’s never been a better time to start. Ease yourself in, be open to learning new things, and you might be surprised at how far a new online career could take you.