The 2021 Guide to Remote Jobs, Our Unique Demographic and the Statistics of This Untapped Virtual Workforce
Who we are
Talented professionals who are globally mobile. This includes but is not limited to:
- Couch Surfers (14 million per)
- Cruise Ship Residents (300,000 estimated 1% of 30 million cruise line voyagers)
- Digital Nomads and Wannabes (4.8 million and 17 million respectively)
- Expatriates (50.5 million worldwide)
- Extended-stay Corporate (750,000 in the U.S. alone)
- Recreational Housing Residents (2 million Airbnb/VRBO/HomeAway estimated)
- Global Co-living Travelers (number currently undocumented)
- Active Duty Military Spouses (approximately 700,000 in the U.S. alone (2% of U.S. population), which extrapolates to 2% of world population estimate 16 million military spouses worldwide)
- RV and Van Full-timers (1 million in the U.S. both on-the-move or extended stay, global numbers undocumented)
- Seasonal On-location Employees, Workampers and Camp Hosts (13 million seasonals estimated for the U.S. based on U.S. Census statistics, and camp crew of approximately 60,000 in the US, serving 13,000 RV parks, 1,600 state parks, 130 national Parks, 4,000 U.S. Forest Service and 1,250 Bureau of land Management campgrounds per Google searches)
- Solo Travelers (252 million, of 1.4 billion recreational person-trips, 18% are solo travelers per this source)
- Trailing/Accompanying/Relocating Spouses and Partners (30 million extrapolated)
- Yacht Cruisers and Liveaboards (517,000 U.S. citizens, global numbers are non-existent)
That’s 402 million people whose lifestyle makes them a prime candidate for working remotely, and if global statistical data for every category actually existed, we could at least triple that number, but we want to estimate conservatively, so we won’t.
Additionally, we factor the following categories of mobile and remote-work-available talent into our demographic but not the numbers calculated above:
- Spouses and partners of people working in the energy industry (About 7 million Americans alone)
- Domestic partners of structural steel- and iron-workers (numbers unpublished at press time)
- Adult victims of domestic violence on the move to break the pattern (numbers unknown, but one in three women and one in four men are victims of their partners, and most cite financial security and ability to find jobs as the reason they don’t leave)
That’s 402 million people whose lifestyle makes them prime candidates for working remotely. If global statistical data for every category existed, we could triple that number, but we’re estimating conservatively.
Let’s be even more conservative. While in some categories up to 80% of the members want work that goes where they go, in others, only 2% are looking for virtual jobs, so let’s assume over all that 40% want to work on the go/from home. That’s a minimum of 160 million people, and we know these figures fall well short of the actual numbers because by 2018, 16% of the American workforce of 26 were already telecommuting and 16% of companies worldwide only hire remote workers and another 40% use remote for some staffing. So, we’ll go with 80 to 160 million…
While many discussions about the benefits of remote work are taken up from the employee’s position (and they are meaningful), it’s important to understand that the rise in remote work is the reflection of a mutually beneficial arrangement. In short, companies are moving to remote work because it benefits them as well! ~ Citadel.edu
Why we are a unique and untapped remote workforce
In a nutshell? Technology. Twenty years ago, people around the world really started to realize that globalization made working outside your region possible and attractive. Technology development was hinting (especially with the onslaught of mobile phones for everyone) that telecommuting could become a thing in many professions and areas of expertise. Yet, the technology wasn’t quite yet ready to support working remotely for most.
In 2020, all the technology that needs to exist for most of the workforce to perform remotely exists. In fact, the only limitations to being hooked up 24/7 are connectivity.
Anyone anywhere can have the technology as long as it’s profitable for the communications equipment and technology companies to provide it. In five years, 2026, living and traveling in very remote areas will likely not be a barrier to working remotely.
What this means to you and the companies that hire you and will hire more of you every day going forward is that you are not limited in skills or opportunity, the companies just can’t always access you as readily as those who stay put and are hardwired in. This is an asset to both you as an employee on the front-end of the remote tidal wave overtaking the future of work, as well as the companies who hire you because:
- The 80 or 160 million people we’re talking about right now are a community bulging with skill and experience, and
- The companies under tremendous pressure to win their war for talent haven’t been able to adequately access you yet.
Know this for sure, the private companies, government entities and organizations of the world want you, and technology companies are frantically developing better ways to connect you to them. That makes you the beach head of remote workforce that’s available now, and virtually untapped. That’s what we call a win-win.
The second reason our demographic, full-time travelers is unique, in-demand with unlimited future prospects? We’re mobile. Mobile is everything. Almost 60% of the world’s population has WiFi, and if the communications companies and private companies launching satellites collaborate effectively, there’s no reason the other 40% can’t be online remotely by 2030.
The explosion of smartphones and tablets has created a new way of living and working. With more than 5 billion people connected to mobile services,2 digital and mobile connectivity is shifting how we work and the relationship between businesses and their extended workforces. ~ Deloite
Why we have a broader talent and experience base than the general remote workforce
Because of our demographic. Compiled from over 30 demographic databases, here’s the snapshot of us:
- 52% of us are age 50 and older (Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers) who have worked an average of 25 years each, making our largest population educated and trained in their areas of expertise and well-accustomed to working with others and being self-motivated and -directed. (90% of Boomers are on social media and use the internet daily.)
- 31% are between the ages of 30 and 50, Gen Xers and older Gen Yers (Millennials) and have worked 5-15 years. This demographic trends toward having a strong higher education background and family-supporting work ethic. (Most have multiple social media accounts which they use daily and conduct the business of life and work online.)
- 12% come from the Younger Gen Y set, 25-30 and are very high tech and travel fearlessly and have a broad range of interests, abilities and solid gig-work mentality. (This generation could run a space program from their cell phones, tablets and laptops.)
- 5% are solidly in the Gen Z community and are just starting out in adult life, they are wildly tech-capable and mobile. (A true talent wildcard with over 75% of their focus on new technologies.)
Overall, our demographic is older, hence it has more professional experience and a far greater amount of subject matter expertise and history of professional successes.
The highly desirable and sought-after qualities that come with this demographic are:
- Cultural adaptation capability
- Demonstrated skills
- Focused on getting results
- Organization and planning savvy
- People and collaboration friendly
- Positivity and enthusiasm
- Superior communication skills
- Tech capable and enthusiastic
- Trustworthiness and reliability
- Understanding of remote
What are the different categories of remote work?
Remote work is not a one-size fits all. In the Who We Are section above, we can see that some full-timers may move every few days and still work remotely, while others may be stationed in different states for a couple months or years, and still others have chosen to live life in another country(ies) while needing to follow employment rules of their native country.
Remote: Not at the source. Remote work is hired and managed from an employing source, but the work is not done at the source. Remote can be 100%, 50%, more or less. Many companies require you to train on site, then you work from home/anywhere. Others require that the remote employee does their work within a geographic region.
The following terms are common for remote work types in U.S. and U.K. English (if you’re working in a country where English is not the native language, do some research to determine what terminologies are typical in that market). Sorted alphabetically, not by popularity, here are the terms that define the type of remote that does or doesn’t suit you:
- Agnostic Location: Work from home or another location of your choice while keeping regular connection with colleagues both remotely and in-person to some degree.
- Work Anywhere: This term almost always means 100% remote and that the job can be done with no physical connections to a physical location.
- Contract: Doesn’t always connote offsite work. Much contracting is done for in-house staffing so always check details of the job posted as some countries and companies use the term only for remote.
- Crowdworking: A relatively new term that almost always involves a team of remote workers with varied talents coming together to collaborate on a project; the model isn’t new, but the term is.
- Digital Nomad: Sort of a chicken and egg term as DNs pick where they want to be first (usually very active travelers) and then work online once they get there, whereas others who work remote plan their life more around their jobs/careers.
- Distributed Workforce: Denotes a company that has a commitment to remote teamwork as part of their business model. Some companies are 100% distributed.
- Freelance: A long-standing term for people who have a skill or skill set and are self-employed. They may work remotely and never actually meet their employer(s), or they may contract on-site for duration projects.
- Geographically Neutral: Just what it sounds like. Doesn’t matter where you are so long as you’re a good fit.
- Gig Economy: An exploding global work model where employees work for many different companies doing gigs, or projects, in a period of time, whether in-house, in the field or remote rather than holding down a job for long periods of time.
- Home Based Work: It’s often the same as work from home (WFH) yet often designate a more self-employment or home-manufacturing bent.
- Home Office: Typically, this does not mean 100% remote. This term is usually used synonymously with telecommute – yes, you can work at home, but only part of the time.
- Home-based: See home office.
- Independent Home Agent: Usually means you work for one company full-time, long-term – i.e. real estate, insurance, beauty products – but you work almost if not entirely exclusively from your office at home.
- Online: Not all remote jobs are online, for example phone interviewing or researching, but most online jobs are at least in-part remote. A good model for online is teaching/tutoring where you are actually in contact, working with your client or customer in an online environment.
- Outsourced Job: Generally means that the work is being done by a second-party employer, i.e. a call center that contracts a portion of their employees, who may all be remote (or not), to provide a service to the company that they prefer not to hire for in-house.
- Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE): Not often used but means exactly what it says… the employer really doesn’t care where you are so long as you deliver what is expected of you.
- Side Hustle: Not always remote and a common term in the gig economy vernacular, a side hustle can be a remote job with which you fill in gaps in your regular income.
- Telecommute/Telecommuting: Working from a source, i.e. brick and mortar, yet allowed to spend a certain amount of your work time from, usually, a home office.
- Virtual/Virtual office: Virtual and remote are essentially synonymous. Virtual was popular before remote and indicated that the worker had a title skill performed for the client from somewhere other than the client’s location.
- Work from Home (WFH)/Work at Home/Work at Home Mum (WHAM): Terms early-on coined by the workforce of stay-at-home parents, this term was the cornerstone of a lot of pyramid schemes/multi-level marketing and other scams. Now it’s as legit a remote work term as any of the others… but this category is the one you’ll most commonly find ‘employers’ who want money or investment from you before you start. Buyer beware.
- Work from Anywhere: Work remotely.
Who hires us?
Absolutely everyone now. Don’t go into the world of remote thinking there is a ceiling. There isn’t. Sure, the remote-working trend got a strong start in tech because techies are deep into the inner workings and not the business and people management. What those men and women made mainstream in technology industries, now employs us all.
Here’s a perfect example of the crossover. Coca-Cola now has computerized machines (designed by techies), currently popping up everywhere in fast food outlets, that serve up all their products from one spigot after you choose your preference (or a mix) on a single touch screen. They now hire a remote workforce (not techies) that does nothing but troubleshot and repair the functioning of these machines from each of their remote offices.
Don’t assume there are only certain types of companies hiring certain skills remote. There aren’t. Here’s a high-level look at remote work’s strong hold on the future of work (compiled from previously cited sources, a CNBC 2019 news series and the State of Remote Work report 2019:
- Almost 75% of North American companies hire remote (this includes telecommuting and regional remote).
- 40% of companies worldwide employ upwards of 30% remote.
- 18% of companies around the globe are fully distributed, hiring only remotely (they have no brick and mortar facility), and 31% of North American companies hire only remote.
- 91% of companies recognize that remote work is here to stay and plan to support its development.
- Up to 75% of the companies who advocate for remote pay for all or part of the technology required for employees to work remotely.
- Most of these companies offer a full-benefit package to full-time workers while decreasing overhead costs up to 60% less than brick and mortar organizations.
If you look at a typical 2020 list of industries that are very committed to hiring remotely, you’re bound to have skills that fit into at least one of them:
- Administrative and Business Support
- Consulting (Subject Matter Experts)
- Customer Service and Support
- Education (From Pre-K through University) and Teaching
- Financial, Accounting and Bookkeeping
- Healthcare, Pharmacology and Health Insurance
- Human and Social Services
- Information Technology
- Internet Technologies
- Project, Program and People Management
- Research, Writing and Illustration
- Sales, Account Management and Marketing
- Social Media
- Testing and Quality Assurance
- Translation and Multilingual Writing/Editing
- Travel and Tourism
In less than four months, this Facebook group posted over 500 companies currently hiring in every one of these industries at every skill level. Every one of these companies from household-word giants to fast-growing unicorns hires from one or more of the demographic groups in the Who We Are section of this paper.
Ultimately, if you’re entrepreneurial, you can start your own business and fulfill its goods and/or services from your home office wherever that might be. There are no barriers to a remote-work life for any of us.
Dozens of studies have emerged in the 30 years since backing up the state working group’s findings. Taken in aggregate, they show remote work, where feasible, has a clear pattern of benefits for both workers and the firms that employ them. ~ Ars Technia
Here’s what’s so special about being mobile in respect to working remotely
You are different. You need a different type of job searching and job posting machine. You need a place to connect that solves the challenges of being an employee on the go and an employer of a mobile remote workforce. You need the world’s greatest database of remote skill and remote employers. (No, this is not the shamelessly self-promotional part, so read on.)
As a Remote Worker, You
- Are more passionate about remote work because it’s harder to earn a living on the move.
- Have more expense variables than stationary dwellers and must work to budget for them.
- Are very flexible and can accommodate ebbs and flows in workload and schedule.
- Can make yourself more readily available to pop into the home office if/when necessary.
- Already rely on technology so working with it comes easy.
As a Remote Employer who always needs immediate access to skilled and available staff… You
- Are committed to maximizing the benefits of hiring remote staff.
- Have some experience making remote work for you.
- Are fighting the war for talent and need to find the best remote workforce you can.
- Know the future of work is remote and want to influence how that looks.
- Want results, reliability and enthusiasm in every remote employee you manage.
How to apply for and obtain a Remote Job
Remember now that this paper is about a single and unique demographic of remote workers: full-time travelers. Our process is different because we aren’t settled in one place with a full-on business office set-up or an in-house staff as many remote workers are (small businesses take on remote work all the time and have salaried support to deliver the results). If you want to take on remote projects that you need to crowdwork, that ‘staff’ will also be entirely remote. This is just one example of the vast difference between a full-time traveler and stationary remote worker.
Because your circumstances are unique, where and how you search for and acquire remote opportunity is as well. You’ll need to:
- Participate in a remote job-sourcing network in which the employers are very remote-savvy, so your mobility is a non-issue.
- Search for work through an organization where the employers are legitimate companies that post real jobs (not scams, MLMs, bait and switches) and that always pay and pay fair wages.
- Work directly with the employer through the entire application through delivery, not through a middleman, third party or agency (most 100% distributed companies refuse to work with agencies because they need quality not quantity).
- Apply based upon understanding of the employers needs and showcasing precisely how your capabilities fulfil them.
- Connect with remote-hire companies committed to the technology bridge.
- Build your reputation not through star-ratings so popular on freelance sites, but via a person-to-person forum connecting hiring decision makers and those who deliver remotely.
Obstacles to working remotely
Technology has to be managed — it is up to you to make sure yours fulfills all of your employer’s expectations. You may need to make adjustment to your plans as you must be connected reliably when working a remote job. You have to be reliable and so does your connectivity.
Laws. Every country and even states and provinces have their own workforce regulations. When working remotely, the rules regulating work in your country of domicile take precedence, but you should always make sure that you’re knowledgeable about any restrictions the company’s home-office country may impose.
You may be working for a company on the other side of the world that needs you to work when their offices are open. That’s fine for some, and a deal-breaker for others.
If you really need human engagement, remote work can isolate you from that. Keep your work-life balance in mind.
You might have more distractions and related frustration. Work-at-home parents are especially prone to having their work-related focus broken. Discipline and managing your environment are critical.
Because we understand how working remote while mobile is different from working while permanently stationary. We’ll develop the greatest word-of-mouth opportunity and reference networking machine the remote work community has ever seen.