Lots of Jobs You Can Work From Anywhere

April 17. 2019. 7 mins read

If you want to become a digital nomad but you don’t have any passive income, you’ll need to find a job that allows you to work from anywhere. They’re also called “remote workers,” and some companies even go so far as to only hire remote workers. Take the website you’re on right now for instance. We’re headquartered in New Yawk because the Americans think it’s the bestest city in the world. They also believe that credibility in the world of finance only comes when you have an office in Manhattan. We don’t make the rules, but we do follow them. Here is our office:

The Nanalyze office
The Nanalyze office – Source: Google Street View

Sometimes people in the area will ask us to “go for a coffee” thinking that we sit in that building all day doing research stuff. They don’t understand that the whole “let’s go for coffee” thing is exactly what we’re trying to avoid by working remotely. When you have an office, you have to go do stuff with people that wastes time. These interactions then start becoming political, and the end result is always less productivity. So, we work remotely and stop by the office if we happen to be in the area. Maybe. Even though this means we can’t spend the majority of our waking lives in the middle of the greatest city in the world, we’ll somehow get over it.

As a result of being entirely remotely operated, we save lots of time and money. Another company that does pretty much the same thing is the one which built the platform we use to serve up this webpage – WordPress. The company is Automattic, and they’re a self-described “distributed company with 876 Automatticians in 68 countries speaking 84 different languages.” They’re able to produce a whole lot of page views with a very small number of people.

Automattic web traffic and employees
Source: Automattic

As far as we know, this is probably the biggest “work from anywhere” company out there right now. Here’s their current openings:

Automattic careers page
Source: Automattic careers page

Notice how they aren’t hiring for any growth hackers or social media ninjas. Large companies with lots of offices will quickly start filling up with a bunch of useless roles that tread water for half a decade or so before a reorganization. Office Space became a cult classic because it correctly pointed out how pointless your job can be while still managing to land a paycheck every two weeks. With remote companies, that stuff goes away. It fixes the glitch.

Where Are the Jobs?

Trying to get a job at a company where everyone works from everywhere isn’t easy when you don’t qualify for any of the six open roles they have at the moment. What you need to do is find a “work from anywhere” company that has a million people working for it. Back of the napkin math tells us that a company that employs one million people would have thousands of open roles at any given time. One company that offers such jobs is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, but those are jobs you probably don’t want. We talked about why in our article on “What Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Says About Our Future.” To summarize, the jobs pay next to nothing unless you live in a second-tier city in Bangladesh.

While pennies an hour isn’t going to cut it, don’t expect someone to pay six figures to access your unbridled genius. It’s basic economics. In order to make more money, you need to become increasingly specialized, which means the jobs are much more difficult to find. An ideal “work from anywhere” business model needs to provide jobs – lots of them – that pay a decent amount of money and require an above-average IQ so they can provide some sort of mental stimulation. That’s exactly what we came across when we learned about an Australian company called Appen.

Appen and Figure Eight

One thing we’ve learned over the years is that there are quite a few interesting publicly traded companies that just don’t happen to trade in the United States. If you’re not out there looking for these companies, you’re not likely to encounter them. One such company is publicly traded Australian firm called Appen which announced about a month ago that they were going to acquire a startup called Figure Eight. We hadn’t heard of either company, that is, until we realized that Figure Eight used to be CrowdFlower. Remember CrowdFlower? They’re a really interesting startup we profiled a few years ago in our article on “CrowdFlower and Human in the Loop Machine Learning.” Basically, what CrowdFlower did was clean up big data for highly-paid data scientists who have better things to do than Extract Transform Load (ETL) work. Now, they’re a part of Appen where a whole lot of people are working on various tasks, all related to advancing the capabilities of machine learning algorithms. These are the jobs that AI is creating, not destroying. They’re also jobs you can work from anywhere.

Jobs You Can Work From Anywhere

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Appen’s job ads are another one of those “sit at home doing nothing and make $2,000 a day” advertisements you often come across in the comments section of Tech Crunch articles. In fact, it’s really scary how similar it sounds, and quite a few people thought the same thing we did.

Google searches for Appen
Source: Google

Appen refers to their remote workers as “independent agents,” another reason why people might be initially suspicious. Here’s how Appen describes those roles.

Appen independent agents conduct in depth internet-based research and provide information evaluation for leading companies from around the globe. Ideal candidates are self-reliant, self-motivated, are very internet savvy, have a broad range of interests and enjoy online research and evaluation.

When it comes to the type of work being performed, we can get some idea of what that entails based on what we know about CrowdFlower. We can also see on the Appen website that there are four broad categories of work they’re looking for people to perform.

Appen jobs
Source: Appen

Micro tasks sound a whole lot like the sort of stuff you might be asked to do for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Language jobs and corporate jobs both go to the same web page which is an interesting selection of very specific roles they’re looking to staff, many of which have very unique language requirements. It’s the “raters” jobs that you’ll want to take a look at.

In a nutshell, they’re looking for educated people who can follow instructions and add value to data sets. We’re not going to get into detail here. We’ve led you to the water, and now you can figure out how to drink it. From the time we spent researching these jobs, they appear to be engaging and require you to think through the tasks you’re assigned so you can add value above and beyond the sort of recipe-driven results you might expect from your typical “emerging market center.” For example, here’s a job description for an “Internet Analyst” whose job will be to “improve search engine results for some of the world’s largest internet search engine companies.”

Everyone’s probably wondering about pay right now, and from what we’ve read it seems pretty decent. You’ll be working as an independent contractor, so right away that means lots of write-offs. As an example, one of their job roles on Glassdoor is a Social Media Evaluator which is said to pay anywhere between $9 to $14 an hour. We know that many of you spend lots of your spare time “evaluating social media,” so this ought to be right up your alley. If you’re a recent college graduate about to go on a gap year, this could be a great way to collect some supplemental income so you can then give half of it to WeWork and start referring to yourself a digital nomad. Given the demand Appen has to staff these roles, you’ll likely get a job just by applying. Show that you’re talented and you’ll start rising to the top. They’re actively performing cognitive assessment on all their staff so high performers will be noticed.


We originally set out to write a comprehensive article on Appen as an interesting stock for retail investors to consider. It’s a picks-and-shovels play on artificial intelligence that’s experiencing a tremendous amount of growth doing something that people can’t seem to get enough of. When we dug into the company a bit, we realized that their business model is a major factor in their success. The ability to leverage 1,000,000 people to work on data tasks as needed while paying a decent wage is a value proposition in itself.

If you’re a PhD – you know, Poor, hungry, and Determined – then it seems likely that you’ll be able to get to the top end of the pay range at Appen by showing some initiative. If you’re an American, you can then spend the majority of your time outside the United States and enjoy the added benefit of not paying any taxes. Afterwards, you can put on your resume that you worked at an artificial intelligence company. While all those fear mongers talk about AI taking away jobs, looks like AI just gave some of us the ability to work anywhere. In our next article on Appen, we’ll take a much closer look at what they do and how they make their money.


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