A GUIDE TO WORKING REMOTELY IN AFRICA
Remote work has always been in existence. As opposed to what many people think, people have been working remotely even before the internet was first created. Remote work existed before the first personal computer was invented. Before work became more about where you travel to and less about what you do, everyone worked out of their homes. Carpenters, potters, sculptors, and blacksmiths all worked from the comfort of their homes and traded their goods from there. With the industrial revolution came the culture of commuting to workplaces and working for 8 hours daily.
The prevalence of the gig economy models caused a significant shift in the nature and perception of work. This meant that people had access to more opportunities and they could juggle multiple jobs at once. For young people in Africa, the gig economy opened a door of endless possibilities. Youths account for 60% of all of Africa’s jobless population, according to the World Bank. But all of this is changing as companies are becoming intentional about hiring African talents. If you are resident in Africa, there are a few things to know about remote work, how to find them, and how to be an excellent remote worker.
What is Remote work?
Remote work is primarily based on the concept that work shouldn’t be done at a designated location for it to be excellent. Remote work is just work, and a workplace should not be defined by a gathering of familiar strangers — co-workers. Remote work gives people the freedom to structure their day in a way that helps them achieve optimum productivity. Remote work gives people the flexibility to work the way they want to work and achieve an excellent result on their own terms.
There are many factors to consider if you have the luxury to choose whether to work from home or the office. Still, you should know that several studies have shown that productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. A 2020 survey reports a 47% increase in productivity for people working from home.
As an Africa resident, you have the opportunity to apply for international remote jobs without having to worry about relocating to your employers’ country. Before the widespread adoption of remote work by many companies, visa sponsorship and relocation costs were significant factors to consider before hiring talents outside the company’s location. Remote work has removed all of these restrictions. Companies get to save expenses while people have access to more opportunities. It’s a win-win for both parties.
How are people working remotely?
Are all remote workers people who work from home? The simple answer is No. There is a tendency to assume that working remotely means you have to work only from your house. This decision to solely work from the comfort of your home should be a personal preference. Here are different ways that people are working remotely:
1. Remote worker
The typical remote worker works from a location of their choosing. This could be their house or a shared co-working space. They are not required to show up at work physically.
2. Digital Nomad
Like remote workers, one thing that defines digital nomads is independence. A digital nomad’s work is flexible enough to allow them to travel the world while working online. Digital nomadism is different from taking a vacation while you work. It’s a lifestyle. You will usually find digital nomads working at coffee shops, beaches, hotels, co-working spaces with laptops or phones. They primarily work in tech and juggle multiple jobs to maintain a steady source of income. If you’re looking to learn more about becoming a digital nomad, you should consider joining one of the most popular communities for digital nomads.
A freelancer is an independent staff contracted to work for an organization for an agreed period of time. A freelancer is usually paid per task or per amount of time spent on a task. A freelancer is typically free to work for multiple clients at the same time. It is important to note that not all freelancers work from home. Some freelancers are contracted to work physically at the company’s office. But many freelancers work remotely from a location of their choosing. Whether a freelancer works from home or at the office is mainly dependent on their contract and the type of services they would be offering.
4. Working from home
Many companies offer their employees the work from home option as part of their benefits package. Employees are mandated to work from home for a few days in the week and work from the office on other days. Some other companies that allow employees to work from home permanently require the employees to only work from a specific location. The latter is usually subject to the job role of the employee. For example, some customer service representatives typically have work tools installed in their homes to work efficiently. Such employees do not have the luxury of working from other locations outside their homes.
How do you ask your employer to work from home?
After experiencing the benefits of remote working, many employees are looking to make that feeling permanent. So you’re not alone. Wanting to work from home permanently for good reasons doesn’t make you a bad employee. In fact, according to a work-from-home survey conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 68% of employees believe they’re more successful working from home.
1. Before you ask your boss about permanently working from home, critically examine your role and what you do daily.
Will working from home negatively impact the quality of your work? Are you a solo worker, or do you manage a team? Does anyone in your company work remotely? Is there an existing policy on remote work in your company? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before making a formal request to your boss.
2. Make a formal proposal to your boss.
Regardless of your relationship with your boss, your request to work from home should be formal.
3. Be considerate of your company.
Transitioning to working remotely should be gradual. You can start by working from home two times a week for a few months before opting to work from home permanently.
4. Anticipate your company’s concerns.
Companies that are struggling to transition to remote work identify reduced productivity and IT concerns as one of their primary reasons for keeping employees at work. If you are going to approach your boss to work from home permanently, you need to show how you plan to address those issues.
Here are sample replies that you can send to your boss when they raise their concerns.
1. When your boss says that the company is not ready to make a policy for remote working
Your response: I understand your concern, and I respect it. I propose I do a trial period to see if working remotely is a good option before we fully commit to it.
2. When your boss says that your work cannot be done remotely.
Your response: I understand that not all jobs can be done remotely, but I think mine is an exception. In my plan to work remotely, I have outlined how I will perform my day to day tasks and meet deadlines. I am confident in my ability to be productive while working from home. I suggest we do a trial and see if it works for both of us, and we can make adjustments based on what we observe.
3. When your boss shares their concerns about your availability when needed.
Your response: We can agree on the best channel for communication and decide on work hours. Personally, I am okay with being available between 8 am – 5 pm, which is when I would usually be available if I were working from the office. We can also agree on how often you’d want me to send progress reports to show that I am working during work hours. Also, I will always be available to receive phone calls and respond to emails during work hours.
If your boss agrees and grants you permission to go work remotely for a trial period, you should be committed to using that opportunity to alleviate any of their concerns. Your trial period will determine whether your company will consider a remote work option for you and other employees. Try to make the best of it by building trust, constantly communicating, and producing quality work.
Myths about remote work
Many tend to exaggerate the supposed disadvantages, advantages and limitations of working from home. While there are difficulties in working remotely, the benefits ultimately outweigh the negatives. Companies and employees are guilty of holding onto myths about remote work that favour their chosen narrative. Here are some of the most popular ones:
1. Myth: Everyone should work remotely
This myth is based on an existing misconception that everyone wants to work remotely. You’d be surprised to know that many people would rather work from the office. There are lots of factors to consider before a company goes fully remote. Not all remote employees are performing optimally. Not all fully remote companies are achieving their desired results. We need to allow companies to figure out what works best for them and their employees.
If you work with executives and team leads who have worked from the office for a greater part of their careers, they are more likely to opt to work from the office. When this happens, the team members who chose to work from home run the risk of being cut out from the company’s decision-making process. This may not even be intentional. There are spontaneous conversations between employees at the office that turn into mini-meetings where they make critical decisions.
In essence, you should know that not all employees can function optimally while working from home, and not all companies can achieve their goals by being fully remote. Not every one will work remotely.
2. Myth: There will be fewer distractions when I’m working remotely
Many people who have held on to this myth were surprised by the new distractions they had to deal with once they transitioned to working remotely. People who live with their families and friends should set firm boundaries. But boundaries do not guarantee a distraction-free period during work hours. They are family, after all. If you live alone, you may have to deal with noisy neighbours, pets that won’t stop making noise or environmental distractions like dishes, plants to water, or piles of clothes to arrange. The distractions are endless.
3. Myth: I will have more control over my schedules
The people who believe that working remotely will help them have more control over their schedules are the same people that believe that working from home is the perfect gateway to achieving work-life balance. You can achieve a work-life balance by working from home or the office. It’s down to your work ethic and how you manage your daily schedule. As a remote worker, you are more likely to work beyond your office hours than someone who works from the office.
Working remotely in a distributed team means that you may be working with people across different time zones. This may require you to stay up late or start work earlier than expected. In your bid to have more control over your schedules, don’t assume that working remotely will automatically fix that. You have to make a conscious effort to achieve a work-life balance regardless of where you work. You can start by learning how to handle timezone conflict with your remote colleagues.
What remote jobs are in demand?
If you are looking to build a career as a remote worker, it is expedient to know the remote jobs in demand. It’s no doubt that remote work is here to stay but are you going to be a part of what the future entails? When you live in any of the African countries, especially in less economically developed areas, you have the opportunity to increase your earnings by over 100%. This percentage increase is in comparison to the amount you would earn if you worked for a company in your country.
Even for companies that adjust their payments to fit local geographies, you’d still earn more than any company in your country would pay you for the same role. Here are some of the most sought after remote jobs that pay well. The world is changing every day and at the center of these changes are innovations made by people with technical skills. Some of the job roles that fall under this category include:
1. Artificial intelligence Engineer
Also known as an AI engineer. According to SimpliLearn, an AI engineer builds AI models using machine learning algorithms and deep learning neural networks to draw business insights, which can be used to make business decisions that affect the entire organization. These engineers also create weak or strong AIs, depending on what goals they want to achieve.
To become an AI engineer, you’d need to have strong programming skills, be knowledgeable in linear algebra, probability, and statistics, understand algorithms and frameworks. AI engineers need to know about Spark and other big data technologies. The average salary of an AI engineer is $114,121, according to Glassdoor.
Job roles like AI developer, Data scientist, Machine learning engineer, and AI architect are some of the careers you can explore as an Artificial intelligence engineer. On remote job platforms like Tamborin, you’d usually find job roles like remote Data Scientist, remote AI Developer, remote Machine Learning Engineer, etc. These roles are in demand around the world, and they pay well.
2. Software Engineers
FullStack Academy describes software engineers as computer science professionals who use engineering principles and programming languages to build software products, develop computer games, and run network control systems. Beyond the technical skills required to be a software engineer, it’s important to have soft skills that will help you stand out in your search for remote software engineering jobs. According to Indeed, the average salary for a software engineer with less than 1-year of experience is $109,798.
3. Customer Service Representatives (CSR)
Customer service representatives (also known as customer support professionals) are the bridge between organizations and their customers. They interact with customers on behalf of the organization, resolve conflicts and complaints, and ensure that every customer feels like the only customer. Companies are usually in need of customer service representatives because they are acquiring new customers, and they need to keep their customers happy. The average salary for a customer service representative is $35,413. The beauty of this job is that regardless of whether you are an entry-level CSR or someone with over five years of experience, there are remote customer service jobs out there for you.
4. Project Managers
Project managers oversee complex projects from inception to completion in an organization. They are responsible for ensuring that deadlines are met without a compromise in the quality of work. They work across all teams to achieve the company’s set objectives and goals. The roles of a project manager might vary depending on the industry they are working in, but at the core of it, project management involves planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing projects. The average project manager earns $78,421 per year. Remote project management jobs are some of the most common jobs you’d find on remote job boards.
Remote jobs like Product Designers, Growth Marketers, Community Managers, Content writers, Data Analysts are also in demand, and they are financially rewarding. If you are looking to transition into some of these roles, the best time to start is now. There are lots of free resources across the internet, and you’d only need to be committed for 6-12 months to be eligible to get your first remote job. Internships and volunteer opportunities are one of the best ways to gather work experience as an entry-level professional.
How to find remote jobs as an African
If you are not resident in Africa, you have access to more remote job opportunities than someone who lives in any of the African countries. Many companies may have adopted remote work, but not all of them are hiring remote workers from every continent. A more significant percentage of remote jobs often require a person to be based in a specific location.
Why do some remote jobs have location requirements?
Time Zones: Many companies usually want employees to collaborate in real-time virtually. Companies would usually prefer to hire remote workers across the same time zones or with about 2-3hours difference. This is why a company in Canada may be sceptical about hiring a remote worker based in West Africa with a GMT+1 Zone. Many job roles require synchronous communication between team members to be successful. As more companies embrace remote work, you need to learn how to handle timezone conflict with your remote colleagues.
Legal and Tax Considerations: Their individual state and federal laws restrict some companies from doing business with certain countries. Also, tax laws and regulations are different across countries. The last thing any company would want to deal with is the hassle of handling tax of multiple employees across different countries. More companies have opted to employ remote workers as contract staff or freelance workers to address this issue. So, you may be working remotely as a full-time employee for a company, but your offer letter and documentation would refer to you as a contract staff.
Meetings and Clients: Your role might involve occasional in-person meetings with clients. It wouldn’t be financially reasonable for your company to put you on a plane now and then for you to physically meet with clients, especially if the meetings are frequent. To solve this problem, some companies offer relocation assistance to their remote employees.
Finding African Friendly Remote Jobs
The reality for many Africans isn’t finding remote jobs. It’s finding remote jobs that are open to people living in African countries. You’d usually come across job openings like this:
Company ABC is hiring a Frontend Developer
Years of experience: 3
Location: Remote. Canada/US
An African-based frontend developer may be qualified for this role but has been geographically excluded from the talent pool to hire from. This is why you should be thorough in your job search to avoid applying for remote jobs that are not open to people in your region. It would be best if you looked out for openings like the one below.
Company ABC is hiring a Frontend Developer
Years of experience: 3
Location: Remote everywhere.
Remember that employment scams have always existed. With the increase in remote job opportunities, remote job scams are also higher. Scammers present jobs that sound too good to be true, reeling you in with juicy benefits. Your excitement to get a remote job can make you susceptible to remote job scams.
Here are some of the remote job boards you can visit to find African friendly remote jobs.
- Tamborin: Tamborin is at the top of this list because it’s the only remote job board that curates and promotes remote opportunities open specifically or broadly to African technical talents. With Tamborin, you don’t have to be worried about being geographically excluded from applying for remote jobs on their platform.
- WeWorkRemotely: Weworkremotely is one of the most popular remote job boards. The job board promotes both location-specific remote jobs and general ones.
- Remote.co: Remote.co was founded by the founder of Flexjobs – Another top remote job board. Like WeworkRemotely, Remote.co and Flexjobs feature hundreds of remote jobs daily. But these jobs are a mixture of location-specific remote jobs and general ones.
- Arc: Arc is a remote-only job board for developers. One of the fantastic things about Arc is that it has a dedicated section for internships and junior roles. If you are new to tech and searching for entry-level positions, you should visit their Remote Junior Developer Jobs & Internships page.
- Just Remote: Just Remote promotes all types of remote jobs. The job board covers many roles, including Software Development, Marketing, Content, Design, Product/Project Management, HR, and Customer Success positions. These jobs are a mixture of location-specific remote jobs and general ones.
As a remote worker based in Africa, you want to be trusted at all times to show up and give a 100. Being a stellar team member while working remotely will open doors for promotions and opportunities for you. It’s essential to have things like electricity, internet connection, and a good work environment sorted out while working remotely. At the end of it all, what matters is that you find a remote job that you love and fosters your growth into becoming a world-class talent.
At Tamborin, we currently have a constantly growing community of over 15,000 technical talents where 4000+ are Frontend engineers, 5000+ are Backend engineers, 3500+ are Fullstack engineers, and 3000+ are product designer, product managers, mobile developers, data engineers, QA engineers, etc. You can promote your roles on our job board to these communities for just $10. We also offer bespoke services to companies that want us to handle their entire hiring process for them, for this service, you can book a call with our team by clicking here. Visit Tamborin.io for more information about our services.
To connect top African talents who are seeking remote or relocation opportunities to opportunities across the US, Canada and Europe. All our members have been prescreened. individually and are looking for challenging opportunities.Learn more