Career | Work

The Demand For Virtual Employees Is Booming

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These are definitely strange times. Beyond the debates over the effectiveness of masks, and the safety of hastily developed vaccines, there is a major shift happening in the way we shop, eat, travel, amuse ourselves, and perform our jobs.

While there has been a trend towards shopping, playing and working from home for years now thanks to technology, in general, and most notably the internet, the fear and lockdowns of this pandemic have accelerated things drastically. Ongoing changes and disruptions to our modern lives that were going to take a decade have suddenly hit society like a tidal wave in a matter of months. And there is little reason to believe we’ll be turning backwards any time soon.

Many sectors of the economy are being devastated: bricks and mortar retailers, airlines, travel, live entertainment, sporting events, restaurants and bars – the list goes on. Many of these, like travel for example, will rebound in the next few years, but many won’t. Hundreds of millions of consumers have discovered online shopping in 2020, and discovered it’s easy, safe, and can save them a little money and a whole lot of time. Other industries will also find their customers are just as happy to interact from the comfort of their home, a smartphone or a laptop at the beach.

Additionally, companies are finding that having their employees working from home isn’t as risky as they’d first feared. In many cases workers’ productivity has been going up, with more alone time to focus on work and less time socializing at the water-cooler. And more importantly, these companies see that if the work-from-home model works, they can save millions of dollars on real estate, office expenses, support staff, travel, etc. Many major companies, from Twitter to the largest banks, are signaling that employees may be able to work from home indefinitely.

With this shift in the economy there will be a substantial need for  “virtual” employees comfortable working from home, either quietly labouring away on independent projects, collaborating remotely in teams, or helping facilitate the e-commerce or entertainment experiences of a couple billion online consumers. Young adults are particularly suited to these roles as they are tech savvy and comfortable in front of screens for extended periods of time.

Here are some of the sectors that will contribute heavily to the demand for millions of remote workers, and areas you may consider for your perfect stay-at-home work experience.

The gaming industry

Time and money spent on gaming entertainment has been skyrocketing and so too has the demand for employees. While careers in video games are heavily geared towards development at the studio levels, once launched there is still a need for customer support, sales and marketing.

In the equally booming world of live casino there are thousands of successful gaming site operators through the world requiring full-time or part-time employees, to handle everything from website programming, to affiliate sales, to SEO marketing, player support, and in some cases even working as a live dealer for real-time players.

playing online yahtzee

Financial services

It’s a broad category, but banks, mutual funds, insurance companies and their ilk have always employed a lot of people, and usually paid them extremely well. They have transitioned many of their staff to work-from-home, in some cases indefinitely. If you’re comfortable with numbers, especially if it’s a reasonably large number that happens to be your salary – this may be the field for you. It’s one of those industry where getting in the door and then shining, even virtually, can lead to some potentially exciting career advancements.

E-commerce customer support

In the old days (aka anytime before this year), there were countless call centres around North America, and the world, with hundreds, even thousands. of operators in massive, buzzing cubicled offices, helping companies’ customers work their way through the buying process, or issues they may need help resolving.

These days, almost all the North American support agents you speak with are working from the comfort of their own homes. With e-commerce exploding this year, there will be a strong focus on providing excellent and friendly sales and post-purchase support service to customers to help build highly coveted return business, positive word of mouth and brand loyalty. Many companies have ‘Live Chat” agents so you may never actually need to speak to a customer by phone. Many others still value the benefit of a helpful voice on the telephone, and you may enjoy the human communication, too.

customer service agent career

Freelance designers, writers, marketers

The pandemic has provided companies with a once in a decade chance to significantly tighten up their costs, and shift to more flexible (and affordable) ways to engage the employees they need to operate and grow. This shift is often at the expense of long-time and/or full-time (often well-paid) employees for part-time and contract (and often younger) employees, who don’t have benefit packages and inflated salaries.

That means you. If you don’t have the particular set of skills that a potential employer might find appealing, and you’re interested in that company or industry, try taking a crash course online, just research and then practice something until you’re a pro. It’s a knowledge smorgasbord out there, properly invest time in yourself, and a sharp employer will see you’re the kind of person they need on their team: an independent, self-starter with the proven ability to learn new things.

This is your chance to find the perfect work-life balance

Generations of employees and entrepreneurs have complained about, and rarely resolved, a situation where so much energy and time are being spent on work that there is little left over for family, friends, hobbies or leisure. Working from home is the perfect answer to this age old dilemma. First, not having to commute saves you a ton of time, whether in transit or having to spend a massive chunk of time getting showered, made-up, dressed and fed.

For most office workers at least two hours can be saved a day, which alone is 500 hours a year! Not to mention working from home in many cases may allow you to schedule a quick 15 minute yoga session or to de-stress with a little play time with your cat or dog before returning re-energized to your desk.

You may have been temporarily laid off from, or completely lost a job in 2020,  but don’t fail to see the potential of a new career where you can work from home, or even better anywhere you and your laptop can travel to.

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