Is it really possible to work and travel the world? How can I find location-independent work?
Not sure about the best way to escape your cubicle? You're not the only one. Jobs tied to a physical location don't always play nice with travel, but remote work does. Fortunately for would-be digital nomads, more and more companies are embracing the idea of a fully-distributed team.
My Path to Location Independent Work
Trust me. I know what it’s like to work 9 to 5 in an office. I didn’t ever do it for more than a few months at a time, but there’s a certain comforting security about just showing up to the same place every day and getting to work. That said, it’s terribly limiting. Want to work from home while you nurse your cold? Impossible. Please come in and cough all over the office, or use up your sick leave. Want to spend a few months working from a home-base in Southeast Asia and traveling holidays and weekends? Not likely.
Me, I was just stubborn and lucky enough to stumble upon remote work as an option. After I finally finished a two-year stint studying in Spain, got my residency and started interviewing for full-time in-office positions in Barcelona, I quickly realized that I could make what I was being offered in salary freelance, work from anywhere, and keep my freedom. Freelancing’s a good option for lots of people who want to work and travel.
But what if you prefer to see the world while you work remotely for a regular paycheck and get all of the bells and whistles (ahem, paid time-off, health insurance) of working for a company? I’m here to tell you it’s also a great option—after all, here I am after years making a good living freelance, happily working full-time for a fully distributed company.
So what about a remote work position with a company? How can you find one? Which companies even offer the option? Read on for more about six companies that offer location-independent jobs.
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1. BootsnAll Travel/AirTreks
BootsnAll Travel was one of the first travel blogs founded in the late 90s and they’re still going strong. In 2013, BootsnAll founder Sean Keener acquired AirTreks.
Since then both companies have fully embraced the concept of remote work—we have no physical office or headquarters and everyone’s location independent—which makes perfect sense for an international travel brand, am I right?
I’m pretty new here, but seriously, I love my job, and the people I work with are so nice (and smart and funny, did I mention they’re smart and funny?). Also, for the first time in my adult life, I have paid time-off and plenty of it. Check out job opportunities at BootsnAll, here.
At Automattic everyone works from the location of their choice. Per their work with us page, they’ve got employees (Automatticians) in more than 50 countries. They do a yearly company meeting for 7 days and teams meet for five to seven days—employees should expect to travel three to four weeks a year—they’re looking for curious, driven, compassionate people.
It’s been a few years, but I once met quite a few automatticians at a TBEX (travel blogger) conference. Everyone was happy and enthusiastic and helpful, and I met Sara Rosso, who’s written about her (very positive) experience working remotely for Automattic at her blog, When I Have Time.
They have an open vacation policy, allowances for home office and coworking spaces, company-sponsored life insurance, fully paid maternity/paternity leave if you’ve been there more than 12 months and a paid 2-3 month sabbatical is encouraged every five years. Apply for work with Automattic, here.
3. Remote Year
At Remote Year, some positions are location dependent for practical reasons— city directors for program participants have to live in the city in question, but many of their open positions— like that of Admissions Consultant are distributed, and employees can work from wherever they like when they’re not traveling for work.
This makes good sense for a company whose main goal is to help groups of remote workers and freelancers spend a year seeing the world while they work. Check out open positions at Remote Year, at this link.
While we don’t use Buffer at present, they write great, useful content about Social Media on their blog. The team at buffer is fully-distributed, and gets fun benefits like unlimited vacation, 1-3 months of family leave, MacBooks, free books and kindles (no questions asked, per their website) and an annual retreat.
At the time of writing, they’re looking for a couple of high-level leadership roles (VP of Finance and VP of Product), as well as a customer support position as a “Happiness Hero” Learn more about opportunites and the company culture at Buffer, on their journey page.
Our team loves Olark’s functionality—and we’re not the only ones—10,000+ companies use their tools daily. The Olark team is distributed and has great core values — it’s clear they want their employees to work together to succeed, connect, and make customers and themselves happy.
Work from anywhere, manage your own schedule, and get benefits like comprehensive healthcare (medical, dental, vision), 401K, vacation bonus, monthly cell or internet reimbursement 12 weeks paid parental leave, annual company retreat including your significant other and per their jobs page: customers who “high-five” you when you meet them.
6. Dow Jones
It’s widely known that this global financial and business publishing services company (founded in 1882) has offices worldwide. The knowledge that’s not so common is that this massive corporation also has employees working from home all over the globe.
I never would’ve guessed it, as in my personal experience bigger companies aren’t always very remote-work friendly, but my French next-door neighbor in Barcelona who manages a team for Dow Jones’ Barcelona office confirmed that after an initial trial period (I believe he told me it was 3 months) most employees can work remotely from anywhere they like.
He tells me the job comes with all of the benefits employees expect from such a large company, including private, worldwide healthcare coverage which came in handy when his partner got a cut on his foot infected in Thailand on vacation – no upfront cost with later reimbursement or copay necessary – that’s some seriously good insurance. Check out employment opportunities at Dow Jones here.
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Other Places to Look for Remote Work
And if none of these companies sound like a good fit for you or your experience, there are a couple of websites that publish remote work opportunities that I used to check out fairly regularly for opportunities before I was hired into my current position: WeWorkRemotely.com, and Flexjobs.com.
It’s important to note that there are more tech and IT positions than anything else on remote work sites, although there are usually a smattering of design, copywriting and customer support positions advertised, too. For a more extensive round-up of`big companies that allow remote work and work from anywhere, there’s this list of the Top 100 Companies for Remote Jobs (2016 at Forbes.com).
Another good habit to get into is to regularly check job openings on the websites of fully-distributed companies you like or admire. Human resources staff usually post on their own sites first. That’s how I found my current location-independent position.