Remote Work and the Caribbean

How to exploit the goldmine of opportunities right under our noses.

An untapped and extremely under-promoted avenue of income generation for English speaking Caribbean territories is overseas remote working. An overseas remote working arrangement involves setting up a working relationship with entities which are located outside of your home country. Tasks and roles are usually fulfilled remotely, using communication tools such as the phone or the internet.

Areas of remote work

There are certain careers that lend themselves favourably to remote work, these include many in the ICT industry. Remote work is however ideal for many non-tech jobs including: virtual assistants, sales, marketing, teaching, customer service, just to name a few.

Stability

There is a perception that remote work is more suited as a job “on-the-side” or done only for part-time or short-term engagements. These are popular options but by no means the only way by which it is done. In fact, there are an increasingly large number of companies that have a completely distributed workforce. This means, all of their employees, including executives, work from home or a designated office space such as coffee shops or shared co-working spaces.

It is very common to find people engaged in full 40 hour week remote work arrangements. These arrangements also exist in companies that have staff both on-site and remote. A stable full-time remote job is a definite possibility. There are numerous Caribbean nationals who live in the Caribbean and have been working full-time remote jobs online for years.

The Caribbean Advantage

There are distinct advantages that are often underestimated when considering applying for remote work from the Caribbean. These advantages are particularly important when seeking to work with North American countries.

The countries that are usually known for remote workers tend to be on the other side of the globe, usually in Asia and eastern Europe. The cost of living in these eastern countries makes it ideal for other developed countries in the west to hire them at comparably lower rates when compared to their local job markets. Many of the same economical conditions of the East exist in the West Indies, without the disadvantage of a timezone that can be as much as 15 hours ahead. Another significant disadvantage of eastern countries is the frequent communication issues that are created with the language barrier. With English as a first language and a timezone that is either CST, ET or AST, depending on the time of year. The caribbean provides a significant advantage over their Asian counterparts.

Besides the advantages to the employer, there are countless advantages to the employee. The average remote worker works for a noticeably higher income than their local counterparts in the same industry. There is usually greater job satisfaction and total removal of the daily commute which can be a significant source of stress, especially if you work in the corporate area. Employees can gain an additional 10–15 hours per week by removing the commute. Expenses associated with commuting are totally eliminated. Expenses associated with purchasing food can be reduced by making home cooked meals. The economic situation in the majority of Caribbean states means the foreign exchange rate is usually on your side. In fact, certain countries will provide you with a constant pay increase because of the constantly declining exchange rate for the local currency. Brain-drain is another common problem in many caribbean countries, you will be able to find lucrative job opportunities and thereby help to mitigate the effects while earning foreign exchange for your country. There is also the added advantage of extra time to spend with friends and family, and since you won’t have to migrate, you get to continue to enjoy your local culture. However, if at anytime you choose to visit anywhere else in the world, all you would need is a reliable internet connection and you can take your office with you. Last but not least, the Caribbean offers a great climate for those who fear the North American winters, but are forced into the cold to accomplish their career goals.

Just another day in my office at the beach in Tobago

Getting Started

So how can you get started? There are numerous avenues for those willing to start to working remotely. You can read about my personal experience in my previous post : “The Telecommuter” and browse the following sites for great opportunities for remote work. I can swear by a couple of them for both long and short term opportunities.

This is by no means a complete list and it is biased towards ICT jobs, however these some are common places where you can find remote jobs.

The next step is to create an attractive CV and a cover letter template then start applying. One trick I have learnt is to reach out to the company execs via social media and start conversations about the company or the industry prior to applying. This allows you to stand out from the barrage of applicants who will perhaps have far better qualifications. If you do get an interview, feel free to check out 15 Tricky interview questions to ask your interviewer to improve your chances of landing a remote job. Good Luck!

If you would like to learn more about remote work, feel free to contact me on twitter @frazras

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