Ready to go remote? Ask these 8 questions first.
min video //
min read //
April 4, 2023
Remote work is a trend that's hard to ignore. And one that's not limited to the US and Europe. According to Morroco World News, 86% of surveyed MENA professionals said they would invest more time in finding remote roles.
To cater to this new enthusiasm, platforms for remote work have popped off in the MENA region, making remote jobs more accessible than ever.
But once you're in the process of landing a remote job, do you really know what to expect?
While there are certainly remote jobs available from local companies, more often than not, 100% remote work opportunities are offered by companies outside of your own country. While this might come with the benefit of you finding a job outside of your home country when the economy is slow, this can make employment more complicated than you might think.
So let's dive into a few of the questions you should ask before starting your new remote journey.
1) How will you get paid?
No one should work for free, and it should go without saying, but how you get paid is an important practical question when accepting a 100% remote position. If it's a local company and you're an employee, it's relatively easy— you'll likely get paid into your local bank account in your local currency.
Once you go remote internationally, it's not always a given that your new company can pay you into a local account or even in your local currency. And while getting paid in another currency could be a plus, you'll have to navigate regular exchanges. This can be an additional complication for remote workers in Iraq, especially if your new company doesn't have a local Iraqi bank.
Make sure to have these conversations early in the offer phase (avoid bringing it up in the interviewing or assessment phases). You'll need to weigh your options and consider exchange rates if you're getting paid in another currency.
Ask your potential employer: "How do you typically arrange payments for employees in [insert your country]?"
2) Can they hire you legally?
Depending on where you live, your new employer may need to set up a local entity or a local branch of the company to hire you legally. In almost all cases, you'll need a local contract (which protects you legally in case of disputes!) to start working.
If this is the company's first time hiring remotely or hiring someone in your country, this is an important step to cover with them.
Ask your potential employer: "Have you hired someone in [insert your country] before? How do you usually issue a local contract?"
3) What kind of contract will you have?
It's not always a given that you'll be a traditional employee. In fact, when you're working remotely, more likely than not, you'll start out as a contractor since this is usually the easiest and fastest way to employ someone.
Depending on where you live, you may be taxed differently, have different protections or regulations on your work, and require insurance as a contractor. So it's best to check what the standard is in your country before signing your contract.
If all of this is new to you, first read up on some of the differences between employees and contractors. It will give you a better starting point to open up a discussion with your prospective employer.
If you have a contractor/freelance contract and have never freelanced before, ask your network for advice, especially from those already freelancing. This way, you can get information from someone in your country about what you need to look out for.
4) What kind of hours will you be expected to work?
Often, one of the best benefits of remote work is that you can determine your own schedule. But, if you work for a company in another timezone, they might expect you to have some of your hours overlap. This could be a big adjustment if you work for an American or Australian company.
If you know you'll be having regular meetings at a time when you're usually winding down for bed (or fast asleep!), it could mean a big change to your day-to-day!
Ask your prospective manager about the meeting cadence and hours. You may want to test flexibility on meetings that are early (9am or earlier) or late (8pm and later).
5) Is most communication async?
If you're just reading "async" and wondering what we're talking about, this is a good one to ask. Async or asynchronous communication is when you communicate without expecting an immediate response— sounds weird, huh?
Well, it's not that strange when it comes to remote work, and everyone determines their own schedule or is working across different time zones. In remote scenarios, synchronous communication—like meetings or phone calls— often is limited.
Understanding the balance of asynchronous and synchronous communication will help you imagine your day-to-day life.
Have an open discussion with your future manager about their preferred balance of async versus synchronous communication. You may want to ask them about their async norms, like response times or schedules.
6) How long have they been remote?
Remote is a completely different way of working. And if your new company is new to remote work, there might be some bumps in the road or challenges in the transition to remote work. You can check out what GitLab suggests companies should do to go remote or remote-hybrid, and it's a long list! Missing even a few of these items could make the remote experience for employees less than ideal.
You'll probably come across hybrid teams as well, where part work in the office and part remotely, or everyone works both in the office and remotely. Make sure to determine the expectations and how long they've been using their hybrid model.
And let's not forget about the company culture. Remote culture is a thing. As a remote worker, you'll want a company that not just accepts your status out of the office (if they have one) but embraces and supports it.
If possible, speak to other remote employees to better understand their experience of working remotely for your prospective employer. You'll be able to get a first-hand account of what it's like and how this company has managed the remote experience.
7) Do you have the right setup for remote work?
Remote work brings you out of the office, which can be freeing. But it'll still be important to establish a solid space to get most of your work done. Whether that's a dedicated workspace in your own home (think: quiet, distraction-free) or a paid co-working space, this is something that you'll have to set up.
Yes, the pandemic did teach us that we can, in fact, work from anywhere— couches, kitchen tables, beds. But as a remote worker, you'll want something a bit more ergonomic and focus-nurturing to keep your mental health in check.
Check out our Remote Ready Checklist to see if you have the right setup (and practices!) to start your remote journey.
8) Are you ready to go remote?
Remote work is more than just setting up your laptop wherever you decide to work that day. And it can be hard for many who are not ready to embrace all the pros and cons of it.
On one hand, you have a lot more flexibility and (if you get your set up right!) comfort. But you need great communication, discipline, and a proactive attitude to get the most out of it.
You'll need to decide whether remote is for you. Or if you need the office to thrive as someone working in the digital world.
Are you curious about remote work but unsure if it's for you? Take our Remote Ready Quiz to find out if you have what it takes to really go remote.
Remote work can be a benefit and help you unlock the potential to choose where and when you get your best work done. But for those entering a remote situation for the first time, you might have many questions.
Don't be shy. And make sure you get all the clarity you need before entering a new work environment. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to really thrive!