Many portfolio career workers do remote work so I have pleasure in presenting a guest blog by Robert Wesley who is a specialist in this area.

Remote work has been around for several decades under a myriad of different names. The eldest of these terminologies, “telecommuting”, was coined back in the ‘70s, while the more recent names include “distributed work” or “flexible work”. Essentially, remote working models allow employees to work outside of conventional company offices either partially or fully – with some companies allowing flexible working hours and plenty of opportunities to work from home, and others offering completely remote working conditions. While mostly intended for full-time workers, this arrangement also enables people to venture into the world of portfolio careers.

With the exponential growth of technology and tools for collaboration, remote working models are on the rise. In a survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London, 34% of the respondents indicated that over half of their company’s full-time workforce will be working remotely by 2020, while 25% said that more than three quarters of their employees will be doing the same by that year.

Before deciding on this arrangement though, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate the remote working model and its pros and cons.

The pros

Companies who choose to adopt a remote working model have the advantage of bypassing geographic constraints to hire qualified talent in other areas of the country or, in some instances, the world. One stellar example of the remote working phenomenon is Automattic, maker of, which has a staff count of 450 people spread out over 45 different countries. While the company itself has an impressive San Francisco office decked with free snacks, ping-pong tables, and a distinctive style, Automattic’s workforce relies on an array of online tools that allow collaboration and innovation in real-time.

Remote working models allow companies to hire and retain good international talent without having to worry about office expenses and logistics. Reports indicate that remote workers take fewer sick days and less vacation time, while also having higher morale and enabling work across time zones.

The cons

However, not all organisations are as successful as Automattic, in the same way that working from home isn’t for everyone. For instance, remote working arrangements typically entail greater difficulty in transparent communication. Another issue is that some managers might not be effective in implementing rules or having accountability from their staff in the absence of face-to-face communication.

Others indicate that not having a regular working environment can cause a lack of camaraderie among employees, where remote workers might feel a degree of isolation from office-based employees and from each other. Those who might not be well attuned to working independently might also have trouble with external distractions in their home or co-working space, which may result in less productivity. If not properly addressed by management and the individual employees, these disadvantages can be detrimental to the organisation.

Is it for you?

Although remote working arrangements have plenty of benefits for individuals and organisations, it isn’t necessarily the better choice. The Association for Psychological Science conducted a thorough review of different reports and studies on the model’s effect on productivity and company success, but the effectiveness of these arrangements are still heavily dependent on the individual, organisations, and the circumstances they find themselves in.

On the individual level, remote work is not for everyone. The model requires a certain type of person who can work independently and motivate him or herself outside of the traditional office setting. However, for those whose lifestyles, personalities, and goals match the characteristics of work-from-home arrangements, a previous blog post here on Portfolio Careers explains that it can be very rewarding.

For organisations, on the other hand, company culture and values play a huge part. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tech companies make up a large slice of the remote working pie, with many technology-oriented organisations finding success in the remote working model. Certain digital disciplines, such as digital marketing solutions, do not necessarily need a physical office for most of their basic tasks and processes. Marketing specialists Ayima explain that the industry today has been growing at a rapid pace in the online world, with its future heavily reliant on digital assets and online community building. Therefore, it would be easier for digital agencies, as well as other players in similar fields, to shift to a remote-working environment.

What are your thoughts on remote working models?


Fascinating article by Kim Thomas on the massive changes in work life and career options for nurses today. She makes the point that a few years ago, most nurses could expect to spend their working life in a hospital. These days, England’s 281,000 nurses work in a variety of roles. Many support chronically ill patients in their own home, or work in care homes, or provide urgent out-of-hours emergency services. Some are key members of multi-disciplinary rapid-response teams, providing intensive support to patients so that they don’t have to be admitted to hospital.

About 15,500 nurses work in GP practices, and, says Wendy Preston, head of nursing practice at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), many surgeries employ nurses in a senior role: “There are lots of really good examples of doctors’ surgeries that are run or led by nurses. The clinical lead might be a nurse, and they may have GPs working for them as part of their team.”

This new independence is rewarding. But there are also exciting opportunities for progression into advanced or specialist roles,  carrying out tasks previously performed by doctors, such as assessing and diagnosing patients, writing prescriptions and helping patients manage their medication. An advanced practitioner nurse, says Preston, “can open and close a case. They can be the first person a patient sees, and they can help them all the way through their journey.”

These roles require extra study, often to master’s level: nurses who specialise in areas such as cancer, diabetes or strokes, offer expert clinical knowledge, as well as care and emotional support to patients. Surgical care practitioners (SCPs) are able to carry out surgeries, such as facial skin-cancer excisions, without a consultant. Unlike other nursing roles in the surgical team, SCPs are involved with the patient from the moment they set foot in the hospital until the moment they go home.

Training requirements for these roles are being standardised, so nurses who qualify for advanced practitioner status will, while carrying out their nursing job, train for three to five years to develop expertise in four areas: clinical knowledge, education, research and leadership.

This breadth of training will make it easier for advanced practitioner nurses to pursue portfolio careers, says Preston, who, in addition to her RCN role, works as an advanced nurse practitioner at an out-of-hours GP service: “You might work in clinical practice as an advanced nurse practitioner in a hospital or a GP surgery, and then you might work at a university one or two days a week. Some people might have a policy role where they’re working with the local clinical commissioning group or within a trust to do workforce planning or quality.”

What I find fascinating about this is that even in a ‘traditional’ career like nursing, new forms of work are emerging and increasingly there is an attraction for some to engage in a portfolio career.

If you look at my blog in October 2016 I discuss how GP’s were being encouraged to think about a portfolio career.

So even in the most traditional of careers we are seeing the attraction for increasing numbers of a portfolio career.


‘Entrepreneurial You’

16 October 2017

My good friend Marianne Cantwell, the Free Range Human lady – wonderful book – contacted me recently as she was having lunch with her friend Dorie Clark in New York. (There are pluses to being a free range human!) She wanted me to know about Dorie’s new book which has been selling very well in […]

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Portfolio Careers and Millennials

15 August 2017

Stephen Clarke, Research and Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation has just produced a report that adresses this topic. It is fascinating as it blasts away at some of the stereotypes about millennials – those born in the 1980s and 1990s. This is the digital generation who supposedly are turned off the idea of a […]

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Portfolio Careers in Australia

8 August 2017

Fascinating article in the Herald Sun quoting research from Seek which found that  59 per cent of Australians regard flexible working arrangements as a top work perk. Flexibility is seen as a two-way relationship and employers are seeing flexibility as a key part of their value proposition to potential employees. The  Seek study revealed that […]

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Portfolio careers and the Taylor report?

12 July 2017

When Katie and I first wrote about portfolio careers most people had never heard of the expression including people who had one! Now it is ubiquitous and is a major topic when it comes to the changing nature of work and employment. The Middlesex University research that we quoted showed that the 60+ generation and […]

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What is my current portfolio career?

22 February 2017

I regularly get asked about my portfolio career and it does change quite a bit depending on when you ask! Some friends suggested that I describe my current collection rather than just writing in theory about it – so hear goes! This does sound just a bit egotistical but my good friend Professor John Hayes […]

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How to Work for Passion, Pleasure & Profit

6 February 2017

This is a new book written by my friend Steve Preston and just published on Amazon. I was delighted to be asked to write the foreward for it. It is always good to get a new perspective on a topic one has lived with and loved for many years. With this book Steve has brought […]

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Voluntary work and portfolio careers

5 January 2017

Most people that I know with a portfolio career have unpaid work as part of that portfolio. I certainly do. I have offered free mentoring to people for many years. I have chaired my local community association for 8 years and for the past 3 years I have been a trustee for Disability Sport Yorkshire. […]

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Creating your work life blend as a freelancer

22 December 2016

Katie and I continually wax on about the pluses of having a portfolio career which also means that for many of us we are also freelancers. I found this article in Management Today fascinating as it is written from the point of view of employers of freelancers. The author, Peter Johnston, gives many tips on […]

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