Earlier this year, I was able to transition to a new job and become a fully remote employee. Kacy has been telecommuting for a several years now and it’s something that I’d been working towards for some time. I’m lucky that nearly all of my work (digital marketing) can be done online or over a few phone calls/web meetings.
Of course, it goes without saying that there are plenty of benefits to working remote including improved work/life balance, getting to sleep later and avoid a commute, and being able to have lunch with my wife everyday, to name just a few. Along with all of this the idea of being able to take my job with me and work while traveling has been incredible (check out our recent working trip to Puerto Vallarta).
Although it has certainly been amazing so far, there has also been a learning curve and some unexpected pro’s and con’s to being able to work from home. Here are six things I learned about working remote since making the full-time switch.
1. You’re Going to Sit A Lot
When I envisioned my remote work life it often included glimpses of hopping from coffee shops to outdoor patios and traveling to different places and cities with my work in tow. Although it has included all these circumstances on occasion, the reality is that most days I’m sitting at my desk in my home office. And sitting for very long periods of time at that.
Without a 10 a.m. meeting down the hall, a birthday celebration in the office kitchen, or a fantasy football chat in the sales department there are certainly less things that have me moving around throughout the day. It kind of just sneaks up on you. A couple hours have gone by before you even notice how long it’s been since you stood up, let alone walked around.
To combat this I have had to be more proactive with taking breaks from my screen and getting up to move around. I’ve enlisted the help of my trusty Fitbit to alert me every hour to get at least 250 steps plus Kacy is much more active then I am throughout the day and will not-so-subtly tell me if I need to get off my ass.
(Note from Kacy: I say it much more politely than that!)
2. You Will Miss Working In an Office (sometimes)
Possibly the most unexpected thing I’ve learned from working remotely is been that I occasionally miss being in an office and seeing my coworkers. I think the most obvious explanation relates to a fear of missing out, or fomo. This is not a constant fomo, but one that sneaks up from time to time when you know you’re not going to be a part of something.
For example, it would have been fun to be part of that ping pong tournament in the break room. Or maybe I could have impressed the president of our company if I was in that meeting in person yesterday.
They are minor things, but something that I did not anticipate. I am a fairly introverted person so I have no problem being on my own most of the time. Luckily, my work does include some occasional travel and trips to the office. I have a newfound appreciation for these trips and always look to maximize my impact when I am there. Establishing good relationships with my teammates and improving communication is a must!
3. It’s Easier to Eat Healthy
Eating well in an office can be difficult. You spent the night before making a turkey sandwich with a side of baby carrots. Only problem is that your work friends didn’t bring their lunches and they just invited you to that new taco place around the corner. You know that place, its delicious. Now the lunch you brought just looks like a sad bag of carrots. Sad carrots never win this confrontation.
When working remote, however, eating what I have prepared or available in the kitchen isn’t really any problem. No one brought in cupcakes or leftover Halloween candy, there’s no office supply of snacks. Just the limiting of options can help out a lot in making healthier choices. I enjoy cooking and find it’s a nice way to channel some creative energy and break up the day.
Kacy and I have been fans of meal boxes for a few years now but Gobble, in particular, has been great for weekday lunches. They focus on quick meals (lunches and dinners) that can be assembled in about 15 minutes. It’s the best of both worlds where it involves some prep and cooking but it also short enough that we can eat a nice relaxed lunch and still keep it under an hour all said and done.
In fact, I made this Gobble meal of Pad Thai just earlier today:
(Note from Kacy: It was delicious!)
4. You’ll Get More Done
Any time you mention remote work, there are always people who chime in about how hard it must be to get anything done and not just lounge around in pajamas and watch TV all day. Sure, I may be in gym clothes or pajamas for most of the day and I shave a bit less frequently, but I’ve never had any difficulty getting my work done. Over the last several months I’ve found that I am actually much more productive overall while working from home.
There are fewer distractions and obligations throughout the day to sidetrack me from my work. It’s also been easier to get into a solid groove when working and really focus. I have no problem finding peace and quite when needed but can also crank up some music if I want. Being more productive is all about finding your “zone”.
I would define this “zone” as the level where your concentration and creativity are at their highest. Some people are more creative at night. Some prefer early mornings with a cup of tea. Others work better on the patio with a dog on their lap. Working remote allows you to find this “zone” and spend more time in it.
(Note from Kacy: I always work better with my dog in my lap.)
5. Separating from Work Will Be Harder Than You Thought
Speaking of getting into a groove and finding your “zone”, one very unexpected result of remote work is how much more difficult it can be to separate myself from my work. When you’re working in an office it’s easy to have a cut-off time. You physically get up from your desk and head out for the day.
While working remote I often find myself working longer hours and checking in on ongoing projects throughout the evening. If it’s 5:45pm and I know I can get the current task done in an hour, sometimes it makes sense to keep working.
This mostly stems from a lack of schedule and regimen that typically comes with the office environment. I’ve needed to think more consciously of the time of day and ask myself if a task can be paused and completed in the morning. However, I’ve found that happy hours are a very effective way to draw a hard cut-off time. Nothing says quitting time like a half-priced old fashioned.
(Note from Kacy: I think this is the biggest thing about remote work that people misunderstand. We have both been known to burn the midnight oil to get something done if we’re in that “zone”. We can take a break to walk the dog or have dinner, but it’s a much preferable situation than being that one person in an empty office while the cleaning staff vacuums around you.”)
6. The Coffee is Way Better
I usually have about three cups of coffee during a typical work day. It’s a very important part of my life. Ever since our time in Brazil I’ve had a fondness for strong, complex coffee. Since returning to the states, I’ve never been able to look at bland work coffee in the same way. Kacy and I have had several jobs over the years and not one of them had coffee that we didn’t have to choke down. (If you do, consider yourself very lucky!)At home, we employ two coffee makers: a drip machine for ground coffee and a Nespresso machine for espresso and lattes. For the drip machine we like to buy beans from our favorite local coffee shops in OKC and get them ground up for really bold and flavorful coffee. Our Nespresso machine uses espresso pods and we like to make lattes with frothed milk. We find these particularly enjoyable in the early afternoon.
Hopefully this shines a little more light on what it’s actually like to work from home. Overall, it is pretty sweet. There are a lot of great things that come with it, but there are the occasional downsides as well. In the end, I would recommend that more people consider working remote even it’s only a day at a time. The positives far out weight of the pitfalls and you won’t regret it!
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