I have spent 3 years working remotely. Here are my thoughts on the whole experience.
Three years ago, I was looking for a job. I was very interested in a different work environment. Breaking out to different circles of people sounded like a change I needed in my life. However, I did not want to leave my home and my city, friends, and family.
During those three years, I have tried out different things in my routine. At first, I was spending full time working from a co-working space. Later, my partner and I were moving to different cities every few weeks, working from Airbnb rentals. Most recently, before the quarantine, I was combining work from a co-working in the morning and working from home in the afternoon. Now, during the pandemic, I am working from home.
What I have learned is that I love changing the environment. Often, the change itself is a great motivator and it improves my focus. Also, the change during the day is a great quick reset to increase my motivation. That's why the combination of co-working and work from home worked well for me and I am looking forward to getting back to it.
Another reason why I choose the combination is that I don’t want to get bored with my home. Having lunch in the city is a great way to break out of monotony. Having a shared co-working is also a great way to practice some offline socialization.
It is valuable to know what works best for you and be in control of it. I don’t find myself unmotivated as I used to get in the past. It is extremely beneficial for my work and life balance. Remote work allowed me to explore it and it helped me learn about my motivations and inspirations.
Two of the most common complaints about remote work are about ending your workday and feeling lonely. None of those has been a big issue for me.
For the past two years, there is a German Shepard in our family. Every minute I spend working from my home office she is sleeping next to me. With her next to me, I don't feel lonely at home. Without her home would feel too empty.
More importantly, she is great to help to seize the workday. Usually, around six she is awake from her day sleep and asking to go for a walk. It's the best reminder to wrap up your workday.
I start a day with a fresh walk in the forest with my dog. This is a valuable part of the routine. I never get to my work with pajamas. It's the other way around, I start my workday fresh and energized after spending almost an hour being outside every morning.
For me, the biggest challenge is about finding friends with your colleagues. Often, we take for granted that offices create situations where people spend time not only working but also getting familiar with each other that lead to friendships. In remote work, it does not happen naturally. It takes work to create relationships and keep those relationships strong. Sometimes all the work and all the meetings can get only just about work. This is something where I want to improve myself a little, to become more of a friend to my colleagues.
My setup at home is far from perfect. Improving it is a constant process where you learn a lot as you go. Being in control of the setup gives you the responsibility to think and evaluate what works and what’s not. Before, it did not feel so important how your tools fit your needs. Now, when most of the things were well thought through, it gives more motivation about my environment. It can become a hobby or a time-waste researching the keyboard, mouse, chair, or headphones. For me, it feels like an inner nerd is a little bit happier with all the conscious decisions I have made.
In the past, I appreciated all the minimal workspaces and it’s aesthetics. Now, I am more interested in all the cluttered spaces because there is something more special about getting all those things in place. Cluttered space is not necessarily untidy. It can be that everything was placed to solve a special need. My workspace is opposite from minimal and now it feels more personal and more thought through. The workspace that I like contributes a lot to love my work.
Overall, I am in the best relationship with my work in recent years. Partly, it's about the work that I do. Partly, it's because I can work remotely in my chosen environment being more in control. It does not mean that I can't go back to the office. More like I am more aware of how to evaluate the pros and cons of any possible future work environment.
In the past, I think I had to cope a lot with invisible stress that I was not well aware of. In the current setup, it's not that a avoid stress completely. It is more of that I have more tools to control the stress. Especially, the home environment is a thing that helps a lot to prepare and address the challenges that await. I feel physically and psychologically in a good state. Any changes that might happen, I will try not to worsen what I have right now.