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The Truth About 'Remote' Roles

I think a lot of companies still can’t grasp the concept of a remote role.

Diane Hall


Young woman working from home

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I think a lot of companies still can’t grasp the concept of a remote role.

I have had three remote roles. In all of these, I used communication tools/apps, like Slack, to keep in touch with team-mates, and we regularly employed Zoom for training purposes or one-to-ones, etc. I have never met any of my colleagues in these roles in person.

I recently applied for a new part-time ‘remote’ role and was initially pleased when the organisation shortlisted me for a first-stage online interview. At the bottom of their Zoom invite, however, I saw that the second stage of the hiring process involved a face-to-face meeting. The location in which this second interview would have taken place was a two-and-a-half-hour drive away from me. 

Stress of working from home

I withdrew my application. I didn’t see the point in wasting their time and mine when there was no way I would have made that trip for a minimum-wage part time role, had I made it through to the next stage. I did a little research and saw that the organisation in question had already advertised the position on a few other occasions this year, which raised some more red flags for me.

Tip to any employer or recruiter: If you require any aspect of the interview process, the role itself, or any further training to be carried out in person, you are not offering a remote role. What you’re advertising is actually a hybrid role. 

If you believe a role can be carried out remotely, you surely understand and recognise the range of technological tools that can be adopted to make this a reality. They’re not just of benefit to job-seekers either; remote roles open up the whole of the UK (indeed, the whole world) to the employer—resulting in a much larger pool from which to fish for talent. BUT…once you insist on any element of said role being carried out in-person, at one geographical location, you limit the pond in which you’re fishing in. Because I wouldn’t trust that, if an organisation thinks I will travel to them once, regardless of distance, they wouldn’t hesitate to insist I do so again. 

Person not enjoying working in an office

And even if I’d been willing to travel so far, what about the cost of this? That journey would have used at least £80 in petrol or cost around £120 by train. Who can afford to throw that sort of money at a minimum wage job? What if I’d done all of that then not got the opportunity after all? Would you have taken the risk? 

The vast majority of people take on remote roles for a reason. This could involve caring commitments, because they can’t/don’t want to commute, because they need the flexibility. None of these are conducive to trekking halfway across the country for the sake of it. If a Zoom interview is good enough in the first instance, it should be good enough for the second, or even third occasion. Maybe in roles with more responsibility there may be a stronger argument for meeting in person, but not for an entry level position. Relating to the latter, it just suggests a lack of trust from the off.

When I scroll through job sites, it’s staggering how many roles are labelled as ‘remote’, but when I read on further, they’re anything but. A few days each week in the office and the odd one or two spent working from home is not remote. That’s a hybrid role. So, stop advertising it as such! Even jobs that require ‘occasional attendance at the organisation’s headquarters’ aren’t remote. They’re really not.

I actually think that employers know all of the above. By claiming a role is remote when it’s not, they’re just trying it on, in the hope they can attract the right person who demonstrates their very long list of attributes from somewhere in the UK, most probably having already exhausted their local area. There may indeed be some people willing to travel quite a distance and do practically anything for what they believe will be a remote role at the end of their journey—but most jobseekers (myself included) would rather exercise their principles, priorities and boundaries whilst waiting for the right opportunity to come along. Employers: your ‘pool’ may not be as big as you think.

Three business women discussing ideas in an office, which is easier than homeworking

I know remote roles exist, as I’ve already had them. I’m lucky that those employers truly understood what a remote-working model is and what it could do for them—such as no offices to pay for and maintain; attentive employees who haven’t had to contend with the traffic to begin work; and regular, convenient interaction and training via digital platforms. 

It’s not just possible, it’s infinitely preferable, in my opinion.

I’m not saying that every role should be remote, nor that hybrid working is a bad model. I’m just annoyed at yet another employer either not understanding the difference between these working practices or their attempts to covertly cast their net into deeper waters. If this is the case, why bother? It’s not as if someone from Scotland is likely to trek down to John O’Groats for just over a tenner an hour, is it? 

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