Remote Work

A digital nomad’s remote work office.

This page provides information and various links related to working remotely a.k.a. “remote work.”

I started this page in 2018 because 1) I find the phenomenon and practice of remote work very interesting, and 2) I periodically receive requests for advice about finding meaningful career opportunities for working in Japan from highly qualified non-Japanese professionals with limited Japanese language skills.

I always encourage professionals to be certain that their decision to work in Japan is aligned with a long-term Personal Career Strategy that takes into account the prevailing context in many Japanese companies:

Many Japanese companies have not properly “prepared to provide what foreign talent needs — a career — due to the lack of the right ‘regime.'” To say it another way, “the socioeconomic conditions and cultural mindset prevailing in Japanese corporations” can lead to a sub-optimal employment experience for non-Japanese professionals.
– Panos Mourdoukoutas
Working in a traditional Japanese company “may not be all a bed of roses when it comes to conservative labor customs. These include the male-dominated management style, rigid seniority system and long hours that sometimes even results in death from overwork, the phenomenon known as karōshi….To attract foreign talent… providing a clear idea of career paths and evaluating job performance more fairly are some of the critical actions needed, according to experts and employment agencies.”
– Kazuaki Nagata

If the professional is from the US, I encourage them to know America’s history vis-a-vis hiring newly minted international MBAs:

She expected to earn at least $80,000 as a newly minted M.B.A., but she has already been turned down for positions three times because she isn’t a U.S. citizen.”
Melissa Hankins, WSJ article “Broken Dreams: Foreign students are pouring into U.S. business schools, but many recruiters won’t even talk to them.”

This evidence-based approach to comparison is helpful for gaining perspective.

Next, instead of explaining the challenges of placing someone who cannot read, write, or speak the Japanese language in a Japanese work environment (which most non-Japanese professionals usually understand intuitively or experientially before they approach me), I suggest exploring Remote Work as an alternative for living in and working from Japan for professionals who cannot speak Japanese.

As for students from overseas who are exploring the possibility of starting their career in Japan, I advise them to remember that Japan is a “high context” culture and then consider the job hunting advice provided by the University of Tokyo very carefully.

An Introduction to Remote Work

This link offers a comprehensive review of Remote Working information written by well known entrepreneur Hiten Shaw.

If you are still having doubts, you should know that remote workers are often more engaged than onsite workers… For more on this point, please see the video featuring Marcus Buckingham below:

Finding Remote Work

One way to secure remote work is to convert a currently held position into a “work from home… or anywhere” position.

If you are not currently employed, then you should know that in many – but not all – cases you need to have some comfort with technical work in order to secure and keep a remote working position.

Non-technical remote work frequently listed on job platforms includes writing/content production and/or editing, project management, customer support, recruiting, design, teaching, virtual assistance, etc.

If you are a U.S. citizen living overseas, then one advantage you bring to the table is that you are qualified to work for U.S. companies and you are, most likely, located in a different timezone than the headquarters. This means that, depending on your location, if you join a U.S. company on a remote work agreement while living overseas, you are able to work a U.S. “night shift” during the day. This could create value for your employer by better enabling the company to provide U.S. level service to overseas accounts during their working hours.

I suggest starting here to learn more about companies that offer remote opportunities: ← Features a “shortlist of 25 great companies places to work.”

Remote Work Listings

The links below will take you to platforms that focus on remote work listings. Note: I am not endorsing any of these platforms. I am simply providing information about them. ← This one requires a paid subscription.

Collaboration Tools

Collaboration is an important skill for any knowledge worker. However, the ability to collaborate gains even more importance when you are working remotely. This page has a long list of collaboration tools for remote workers.

Remote Professional Services & Expert Network Platforms

The links below will take you to platforms that focus on professional services and expert networks. Note: I am not endorsing any of these platforms. I am simply providing information about them. ← This one focuses on management consulting.

Freelance Gig Platforms

The links below will take you to platforms that focus on freelancing. Note: I am not endorsing any of these platforms. I am simply providing information about them. ← This one seems positioned for designers and online business builders. ← The first and possibly largest platform for freelancers. ← I believe this is the largest freelancing platform in Japan. The website is in Japanese.

Digital Nomad Movement

The rise of the digital nomad movement has driven an increase in interest in working remotely.

The New York Times is quite interested in reporting on the Digital Nomad movement. Here are some of their more prominent articles, which can help you come up to speed quickly:

How to Become a ‘Digital Nomad’
(Note: This article from TransferWise is also quite informative).

The Digital Nomad Life: Combining Work and Travel

When You’re a ‘Digital Nomad,’ the World Is Your Office: A global network of live-work spaces is springing up to serve this new breed of millennial wanderer.

However, Digital Nomadism can be exhausting. Here are a few alternative viewpoint articles:

What I wish someone told me before becoming a digital nomad

Why you will never make it as a digital nomad

Whether you embrace Digital Nomadism or not, a key point to remember is you can work from anywhere, including your own home, when you are engaged in Remote Work.