Career development in small and mid-sized cities can be slow. It’s pretty easy to spot the imbalance between opportunity and ambition, leading to an early professional plateau for people who can’t/don’t want to move. With automation eliminating jobs, slow job-growth rates, and legacy workers cemented into leadership positions, young professionals are wondering: How the h*ck do I move up?

Face the Professional Roadblocks

Millennials are the largest generation in the labor force, but it doesn’t mean their jobs are necessarily gratifying or profitable. SmartAsset just reported that the average salary of a millennial is 20% lower than the wage their Baby-Boomer elders received at the same age.

Even if your resume is dripping with certifications, degrees, and skills, small markets are often filled with legacy leaders, many of whom will unabashedly admit they plan on working until they drop, leaving a generation without leadership opportunity. A recent Gallup survey suggests 75% of Americans are planning to work past retirement age. Which sucks.

As C-suite roles remain filled, VPs grow stagnant, then mid-level management decides to coast, and suddenly, just about every avenue for career advancement is roadblocked. So, where do you turn?

this guys' company is in Italy!

this guy’s company is in Italy!

An obvious solution is to simply move away. Set your sites toward a big city, say sayonara to your friends and family, and then squash yourself into a postage-stamp-sized apartment for the price of your firstborn. But many professionals want to keep their awesome small-city lifestyle while working for big-city firms.

If that’s you, then upgrade your LinkedIn and get ready to take a position working remotely. Sure, you could slog it out until a manager retires, but that’s beneath you. Instead, plug into a business closer to the top. Besides, this is the new norm. With so many employers finally realizing the benefits of filling positions remotely, professionals not only have the opportunity to explore career paths outside of their local market, but they may have their pick of the litter.

Don’t Get Stuck Doing Less Than You’re Worth

Underemployment occurs when you’re working part-time or in a temp position when you’d rather be working full time in your field. It happens when you have more experience than a job requires, you’re stagnant in your current position, or you earn 20% less than previous jobs. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that over the past 20 years, about 32% of college graduates have been facing underemployment.

Underemployment affects almost every industry, regardless of location. Traditionally, when the top rungs of the corporate ladder filled up, people had to move away for more employment opportunities, exacerbating the pattern of small-town brain drain. However, with the explosion of new remote positions, talented employees can remain in their small to mid-sized cities while working for profitable, fulfilling jobs.

By The Way, Working Remotely Helps Your City

By working remotely, you have the potential to help boost your local economy. For instance, if you live in Erie, Pennsylvania (PA) and are telecommuting to a digital marketing firm located in New York City (yeah, we’re looking at you Adam & Andrew), your paycheck is bringing new money into town. However, in order to truly benefit small and mid-sized cities, it’s important that remote workers spend their earnings at independent, locally-owned stores, as opposed to chains and remote-online stores. Spread that love.

Erie Ale Works

Erie Ale Works Local (get it? see what we did there?)

Research by the American Independent Business Alliance AND by private research firm, Civic Economics, showed “independent retailers return more than three times as much money per dollar of sales than chain competitors” to the local community. Specifically, for every $100 spent at a local store, $48 will continue circulating in the community, as opposed to $10 with in-town chain outlets, and $1 at remote online stores (if the delivery driver resides locally).

Often referred to as an indirect impact, your paycheck is benefiting the local area. You’re basically importing money. A few examples of the money-spending habits that help:

  • Attending plays and concerts
  • Eating at independent restaurants
  • Buying locally-sourced and manufactured products
  • Donating to local charities and fundraisers
  • Renting/buying a home in the city
  • Working from an INCREDIBLE coworking space
  • Paying for witty copywriting, whatever, we’re not pushing it…  

Some states, including New Hampshire, are competing aggressively for this new class of wealth-importing positions encouraging younger workers to stay in the area by making flexibility a law. Senate Bill 416 states that any employee that requests work flexibility for any reason may not be retaliated against.

The law aims to boost New Hampshire’s economy by increasing worker retention and improving productivity. By passing SB 416, the state hopes to attract younger workers to move New Hampshire for their progressive work laws as well as retain the native talent by providing a work-life balance that’s considerate of family dynamics, green initiatives, and local spending. Hell, Tulsa just hands you money to move there.

It’s Not Just Tech

writing, HR, project management, it's all remote now

writing, HR, project management, it’s all remote now

There is a misconception that remote work revolves solely around the tech-sector. While remote work is prevalent in IT verticals, it’s actually most common in the medical and health fields, with many non-profits beginning to expand by hiring remote talent. The fastest growing remote job fields include:

  • Therapy
  • Tutoring
  • Client Services
  • Virtual Administration
  • State and Local Government

Working Remotely Saves Money

Are you thinking about asking your current employer to let you work remotely? Good. Remind HR decision makers that the business can save money if you’re working remotely. One surprising source of savings is decreased sick-time caused by excess stress. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) found that unanticipated absenteeism is estimated to cost American companies $602.00 per worker per year. However, a study conducted by the Telework Research Network found that unexcused days were reduced by 63% per employee when given the option to telework.

But it’s not just about saving dough, it’s about making it. According to Global Workplace Analytics, remote workers are also 15% to 55% more productive. Combine more time spent working with higher levels of productivity, and you’re looking at a serious improvement to the bottom line.

Ok, enough about the business’s savings, let’s talk about you. As a remote worker, you are also saving some cheddar. Between gas, clothes, food, parking, and sometimes daycare, a telecommuter reduces their personnel costs by $2,000 to $6,500 a year, depending on location.

Do Remote Positions Pay Less?

According to FlexJobs, companies generally set salaries for remotes workers based on:

  1. The location of the company office
  2. The location of the remote worker
  3. General market trends (regardless of location)

When employers use the first method, remote workers can earn big-city wages no matter their home location. But it also means that if you’re living in Manhattan and your employer is headquartered in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the HQ location could work against you.

get that bread

get that bread

To avoid cost of living issues, companies often create pay bands for each particular job which defines the range of compensation. Of course, the median cost of a house in Manhattan is $1,040,900, and in Tuscaloosa, it’s $147,700 (Zillow), so if you’re at the far reaches of that pay band, you could be in for a wide spread in potential income.

On the other hand, some companies base their salary on the location of the worker. Proportionally, remote positions pay the same wage as in-house positions. Obviously, workers residing in expensive metro areas are compensated with a higher salary due to their cost of living requirements.

Finally, some companies base their wages off of general market trends, especially if competition for your talent is high. If you live in a city where the cost of living is low, a remote position like this can help you finally get ahead of the daily grind.

Opportunity Awaits

Since 2005, we’ve seen a 115% increase in remote jobs. Currently, 43% of employees work away from the office at least some of the time.

Companies are hiring remote workers to fill positions that require specialized skills while also allowing employees to focus on their quality of life by living wherever they like. Why are employers so keen on providing the benefit of balance?

Well, the labor market is tight. Employers are having a more difficult time finding and retaining talent as increasing numbers of qualified workers are finding good jobs that support work/life balance (generally in bigger cities). In fact, a survey by McKinsey found that 82% of Fortune 500 executives don’t believe that their companies recruit highly talented people, and of the ones that can, only seven percent are confident they can keep them.

The Challenges of Working Remotely

To be fair, there are also challenges to remote working. For instance, the Harvard Business Review found that telecommuting employees are more likely to feel left out and disconnected from their colleagues than those who work in an office. And in Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2018 Report, 58% of the biggest struggles telecommuting employees face are loneliness, lack of collaboration, and distractions at home.

Of course, coworking spaces address those problems—and we have research from The Harvard Business Review to back us up. Studies routinely show that joining a coworking space can solve a lot of issues associated with working remotely.

we offer coffee and support

we offer coffee and support

For instance, coworking offices are usually open 24/7, which means you can use the high-speed internet anytime, interact with other caffeine-charged remote workers when you want, and buckle down when you have a deadline. While coworking is about work first, it’s also about alleviating the loneliness, lack of collaboration, and home distractions that remote workers often battle.

Find Your Space

With a remote position, you can maintain a big-city job with the relaxation of small-town living. If you’re in Erie, Pennsylvania and you’re tired of trying to climb a crowded corporate ladder, consider searching for a remote work position. Think about it: what other city has a cost-of-living this low with a beach and bustling downtown just 15 minutes from one another?

Going stir crazy in your home office? We got you. Need a supportive network? Goes without saying. Want coffee that works like jet fuel? Then Radius could be a great fit. Click here to contact us and we’ll chat.

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