It has long been my dream to be my own boss, set my own schedule and travel the world. I often dreamed of the idea of being able to work from home, make money and set myself free from the open workspace or cube farms of the office world.
What I didn’t realize when I was younger was that being your own boss means you have to do boring crap like file taxes, create marketing plans, sell your services to clients and work far to many hours. I like to relax, I like to have fun. I like doing my 40 or 45 then relaxing.
The dream faded until recently when I got my first fully remote role. Now a few months in and I’m loving it. Today, I’m going to tell you why.
Work when you need to
This is probably the best feature. I often have phone calls with the team out in Shanghai, rather than doing many hours at the office, I just shave a few hours off my work day to go bike or hangout. Then I do my phone call and talk to the offshore team when needed.
I don’t have a stand up and I probably won’t for this role, which is great. Which also means if I have the ambition to go to the gym at 8 am instead of 5 am, I totally can do that.
You work much harder
I guess it depends but for me there is no boss guy demanding you work hard, checking to make sure you didn’t spend to much time at the bathroom or some crap like that. Which is motivating to me, to actually, work harder. I’ve got to prove to people that I’m worth keeping around by my output.
There are few distractions, unless you create them. I have my dog, Dudley which totally be a distraction sometimes, typically just he wants a ball thrown or something like that. But there are no Johnnys looking to talk shop on their weekend, sports or what they plan to make in their smoker this weekend. There are no lunch or coffee plans to suck you out of the office. There are few meetings and much more time to focus.
All of this ‘time’ leads you to actually do what they paid you to be here in the first place: work! I don’t have a keg or ping pong, nor a dozen people asking me trivia questions. I get to focus on writing really amazing software and I also get the time to think.
Communication is clearer
This can be a challenge if you’re the only remote person. When everyone is in the office so you miss out on a lot of stuff, but for my team there are two guys in different parts of Texas, one in Florida and one in San Francisco. There is no, ‘let’s go talk to Jimmy Bob at his cube’ kind of things going on.
There are 4 tools we use to communicate:
- Email. We send pictures (we’re a compliance firm and can’t send it over chat) and other important items like webex invites over email.
- Chat. We use a private Google Hangouts so we can form groups and talk to people within the organization no problem.
- Webex / Hangout video. In Webex you can take over a presenters screen to control it, we use this to do things like pairing or to receive tech support.
- Phone. We do a lot of phone calls.
Because everyone is remote, you have to frequently communicate, take notes and make a decision then publicize the decisions in a concise manner. This leads to clearer communication.
In the past, when working with diverse teams, I’ve experienced some challenges when some people are remote and others are on site. When you’re the only remote and you call into a meeting, the phone can be really hard to pick up sounds.
There are social interactions
Above we use 4 tools on a regular basis. I’ve spent days pairing with someone using a Webex and a phone call. I’ve enjoyed these pairing sessions much more then being onsite. I can be comfortable, I can use my brain and not worry about how I look or smell.
Some of my in laws were and are probably still concerned about this aspect, but I’m an introvert. I need my space and time to think, I regularly seek that out. It’s not that I don’t socialize or interact, my friends just aren’t buddies at work.
I make friends through my church or gym. I go to this really cool gym 3-4 days a week, I work out, talk shop and have gotten to know the owner really well. I’ve lost a lot of weight and faced a lot of success with their support. I have two small groups I go to. I get to see and be around people. It’s just that when I’m ‘around’ coworkers its in a more digital fashion. Which leads to me actually getting a lot more work done.
Working from home results in less meetings. Back at my old job, I was pulling 20 hours a week of meetings. Currently I have 0 meetings on my calendar this week. 0! I cannot believe 0, that’s amazing. Because I have less meetings I can spend more time working and getting stuff done. I can spend more time investigating the decisions I’m making to ensure they fit the long term needs of the business.
I get to customize my workspace
I have a dedicated space for my work. It’s an Ikea desk that my wife got in college, it’s a beautiful one. I have a dedicated LCD to my work. In addition, I put a footstool under the desk, I have a fancy Hon chair. My tech is also not subpar: I have a Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard, 2 lamps, LED backlighting for my LCD and a super cool Logitech mouse.
In addition I have a fan, a space heater and plenty of healthy snacks at my disposal. This means that I can write off the gear and the internet while enjoying healthy snacks and hours of productivity.
I get more done, I’m more productive, I can pause when I have a headache and get a screen break. My employer trusts me to do my job and to do it well. I get to focus and learn, I get to contribute and offer more value to the company and to my life. I also don’t have to spend 2 hours each day commuting. I highly recommend everyone try it at least once.