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Having this great opportunity to bring your work wherever you go allows for much more possibilities as a data analyst! More than just working from home, the nature of data analysis work allows for remote working.
Data analysts can work from home. Data Analysts work mainly with data analytics software or tools that are on their computers. This means that most of the work that is done on these computers can be brought home and worked on through laptops with a secure VPN connection.
What are the differences between a regular data analyst and a remote one?
The first thought that came to my mind is the difference between working closely with a team physically and meeting them virtually. In a remote job, virtual meetings are the only go-to option for any correspondence between colleagues. Although this might initially put most in an uncomfortable environment to speak to new people in broader teams, these problems should fade over time as you get used to the virtual conference software.
Because a large part of a data analyst’s job is to work closely with the operations, finance and marketing departments, meetings are commonplace. Therefore, when these meetings go online, many of the quick discussions or informal discussions that come together with problem-solving are not present. Moreover, meetings that require intensive analysis or discussion may encounter increased difficulty in conveying ideas, leading to extended meeting hours.
2. Working Hours
As a typical data analyst day goes, most would agree that work hours are consistent. However, in a remote data analyst job that works from home would have that slightly disrupted. This can provide a substantial amount of flexibility, which is great for a data analyst that works from home. Increased flexibility to working hours can be useful when an analyst requires more time to churn out that monthly report.
However, with the idea of working from home comes the need to consider the varying timezones. Your working timings might be slightly shifted according to the headquarters of your company. Just imagine having to work in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) when your office is in Pacific Daylight Time (PDT)! Meetings would be tougher to arrange due to varying lunch hours and longer meetings would lead to less heads-down analysis time.
As some may say, nowhere is as comfortable as home. If you enjoy being at home and are able to stay focused while working from your desk at home, working as a data analyst from home may be just the right fit for you! Typically, a data analyst would need to be seated at a desk in the office, where the environment is more serious and corporate.
In a situation where working from home is needed, all of these factors are not present. In fact, some might find their homes a more comfortable environment to think creatively and critically for problem-solving. Data analytics is described by some as a mixture between a science and an art, where creativity is required for coding tasks as well as crafting beautiful, insightful charts for data visualization reports.
Also, if you are someone who loves to have a quiet place to sit down and run through a tough analysis problem, working from office offers a quieter environment than that of working from home. Family members might cause minor disruption to your train of thought, which can lead to some frustration.
Another large difference between the regular office and the work from home data analyst is the work community. Some people would agree that the people make up most of the job. If there’s a great community and company culture, you are more likely to report to work every weekday morning.
In the regular office, work is all in one place and interactions between co-workers are organic and easy. This helps to build company culture. As a data analyst who works cross-functionally across multiple teams, having good rapport built up with various teams is essential
However, in the work-from-home individual, there would be less chances for fostering a closer community with co-workers at work. With virtual interactions, conversations might seem colder, which can affect a data analyst’s overall efficiency in the long run.
What are the similarities between a regular data analyst and a remote one?
1. Similar Workspaces
As most data analysts sit within the product/tech team, office-going individuals would already be using common virtual workspace software such as Google Suite, Slack or Microsoft Teams for communication. This is no great difference from the data analyst working from home, with the exception of having heavier usage of them.
2. Similar Analytics Tools
Data analysts mainly work within a stack of analytics software used by their specific companies. With the use of cloud computing and server-less databases, data analysts can still generate SQL and Excel reports even from home.
Python or R scripts written by data analysts are typically shared through a collaboration platform with version control that enables collaborative coding. One such example is Google’s Colaboratory for a Python environment. These collaborative coding platforms allow the remote data analyst to work with another team member working on the same script in a different location.
3. Similar Workflows or Pipelines
Data analysts have a typical workflow throughout their analysis. It usually begins with a request for a certain analysis report to be made, through email. They would then query the necessary data from the respective databases. This data is cleaned through certain scripts and presented in a presentation using data visualization tools.
Similarly, a data analyst that works from home will be running through the exact same pipeline through the computer. All the required software and database access are available from a computer.
What are the benefits of working as a remote data analyst?
1. More Flexible Opportunities for Work
Having a remote job is in itself a flexible arrangement! With a remote data analyst position, more doors will be opened up to you. You can have opportunities to work with large companies that were typically too far away to travel by any means of transport. Moreover, a remote job can provide a chance for you to work with that dream company overseas that you’ve been dreaming of.
2. More Time for Work
If you prefer the data analysis work over the office banter, you would enjoy having the freedom to work remotely. With less time for interactions, more can be accomplished with the extra time as compared to unnecessary discussions.
While this point may not be a benefit for most people, who would rather have a human to talk to physically, there are some who truly enjoy the data processing more than anything and I respect that.
3. Cuts Down Travel Time
Having the opportunity to not leave your doorstep to report for work, remote data analysts would have more time on their hands saved from travel time that office-goers do not. Depending on your work location, the office can be a tiring, long 2-hour drive away, which may not be feasible for all individuals. Working from home gives you better control over your after-work hours.
Where do most remote data analyst opportunities come from?
1. Large Companies
Large companies that have the resources and infrastructure to implement remote positions should take up a large portion of positions available out there. These companies offer work from home opportunities because they focus on the expertise of the hired individuals rather than the need for close physical collaboration.
2. Expanding Startups
Startups are known for their fast-paced and rapidly expanding teams. In a startup that lies in the scale-up stage of growth, offices may have less space for desks for new hires. A remote position may therefore be extended instead of an office-going one. However, the remote option may only last until the office venue is moved.
3. Freelance Consulting
Another possible source of remote data analyst positions are through the data consulting route. As most freelance data consultants are hired on a contract basis, there is less emphasis on collaborating within internal teams. Hence, a remote position is sufficient.
Data analysts work mostly with software and tools that are available on their work laptops, so having the option to work remotely is a natural one. It is possible for data analyst positions to allow work from home arrangements, especially when travelling to office may be seen as a barrier to some.
Moreover, there are increasingly more of such remote data positions being offered through companies of varied sizes or on a contractual basis. I would definitely recommend applying for a work-from-home data analyst role if given the opportunity to, knowing the possible benefits to it.
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