October 2, 2016
The Positive Reality of Working From Home
I don’t know about you but I love that I can work from home. I am incredibly more efficient, comfortable, and happy that I am able to. With zero commute time and ultimate flexibility, there’s no wonder more and more people are ditching the office environment to work from their home. If you haven’t considered it or your current employer doesn’t believe in it maybe my take on the subject will sway you/them.
By day, I work for a micro-agency with my partner Alyssa and also run this blog. Before I started the agency I worked remotely with a company for over three years, all from my home office. Now, with over five years of remote working experience under my belt, I can safely say I no longer see the reason to commute to and from an office space. Other people will disagree but when I give them the facts about how much time, resources, and energy is wasted in a given week they start to understand why I’m so in favor of working remotely.
Some of my friends think because I work from home I never leave the house. While It’s true I don’t leave every day (which I think is pretty awesome), I do manage to break my routine much more often than anyone stuck in a typical daily grind. Working remotely means I can work from absolutely anywhere. I take pride and am very humbled by the fact that I can do this and set my own schedule.
When a friend mentions to me that I never “get out” I often think to myself “You only leave to go to work and back. Why waste that much time and resources if you really don’t have to? And that makes you better than me how?”.
The stereotypes of a person who works from home are often skewed. Everybody assumes you’re this person who wakes up at noon and never changes out of what you sleep in. It’s a bummer that this image prohibits others from thinking they can’t work from home for fear that they won’t be productive by any means.
While productivity is something you have to enforce upon yourself there are ways to do just as much if not more than you would normally do being stuck in the office.
Back when I was applying for jobs It was still a new concept to work remotely. Some companies were offering the option but most were not. The companies that weren’t offering the option of remote work believed in the very old tradition of needing to physically be in an office to get actual work done.
This made sense back then when communication was harder. Today, we have many forms of communication be it video, in-person, on the phone, or through instant messaging.
What companies with these old traditions don’t realize is that no one is 100% productive for eight straight hours in a given day.
A typical day for me is broken up into blocks. I rarely work for more than four-hour increments. I take breaks to eat, exercise, chat with my partner, do chores, and more. Each day isn’t a 9 - 5 ordeal and I’m happy about that.
The blocks of work time are often productive periods for me. I typically have a project I’m working on and use these blocks to complete specific milestones I set in place. I’ve gotten in the habit of tracking my time for certain work to see just how much time I’m putting towards different aspects of a given project. In the future, I’ll refer to this data to compare and contrast my efficiency.
How I work and how you work will likely differ. If you have goals you are striving towards and are okay with working towards them without the direction of a superior then you are a good candidate for working from home and/or on your own.
The general public often associates some pretty dumb myths about the remote workforce. I’ll try to clear up some of these based on my own experience.
I would never get anything done if I worked from home
I find myself to be more productive when I’m in an environment I find comfort in. Being in an office sounds like a terrible way to spend your most of your days on earth. Why not, at the very least, spend those days where you can be yourself and not worry about what others think of you. Working from home also means you don’t have to have those time-wasting conversations with people from the office you wish would just leave you alone.
You need to get out of the house more
I probably get out of the house more than those who perform the same mundane tasks getting to and from the office every day. Working from home gives you the freedom to set your own schedule. This ultimately means if you want to take a few hours and go do something you totally can. There are more spontaneous moments which makes it all worthwhile.
I need to be in an office to communicate with you
No way. Thanks to technology we can communicate instantly with pretty much anyone anywhere that has the internet or a data carrier. Sure, some face-to-face needs to take place but it doesn’t have to be daily. In fact, I think this kills productivity at times.
If you work from home how will I know you’re actually working
If you have to ask this question to the employee you might need to reconsider their employment. There is a bit of trust that goes into working remotely. The employee needs to be responsive and regularly available as well as productive. As a remote worker, you need to abide like you would if you were in the office. Self-discipline is a big part of the equation and I found in time it comes naturally to learn to be productive without some superior always looking over your shoulder.
We need you to be a part of daily standup meetings
Let’s face it most meetings are just terrible. Yes, it's good to make sure everyone is on the same page about a project or idea but making these a recurring thing is an ultimate buzz kill. At my last job, we would meet remotely using GoToMeeting almost every day. Now the meetings weren’t long but the meetings were an absolute waste of time. Rarely did I or the other people in the meeting have new things to report and if we did it didn’t impede on the rest of the group. It makes me cringe to think about it now…
Working from home means an “office” doesn’t need to exist
I often question why many agencies around my location assume they need a “space” to exist. My partner and I take great pride in not wasting resources on leasing a space for a studio. This means clients looking to partner with us don’t have to suffer from a typical project’s overhead fees just to take care of our rent and utilities if we were to have a studio somewhere. Larger agencies charge ridiculous rates just to take care of their employees and overhead. I find this kind of disturbing and unethical for the sake of the client.
You rarely need to commute. This saves a ton of money and resources
If you work at an office I ask that you visualize your commute in a given week. Say you’re about a half hour from the office. That equates to an hour a day, five days a week inside your car. Five hours lost commuting. On top of that, you probably have a car payment, gas, and maintenance fees to account for too. That’s hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars a year spent just getting to and from work. If you work from home you get all that back. Plain and simple.
You do need to be self-driven
Working on your own and from home means, you do need to be a self-disciplined individual. If you’re new to working remotely this is something you just have to learn to enforce on yourself. Eventually, you’ll develop a natural schedule that suits you where you can be productive but still has the freedom of working where and when you want.
Communication is no longer an issue. Over-communication is
Technology has come a long way. There’s little reason you need to be face-to-face for every encounter anymore. In fact, I often find the number of forms of communication a little overwhelming. Don’t believe that over-communication is a thing? The next time someone instant messages or texts you during your phone call while you have email notifications popping up you’ll remember me mentioning this.
Focusing on life rather than work becomes more important
Our society is often focused on business (in America especially). Many employees work long hours to try to get an advantage on the next big idea or app and sacrifice actually living life while doing so. Being able to work from home allows you to still live while doing what you love. Life is all about balance so it is something everyone needs to work on.
There’s more time for family and side projects
Working from home gives you the freedom to not have to have your child in daycare or allows you to spend a day working on other projects for fun. Imagine your boss at the office allowing this?
Is it for you?
The workforce of today is evolving to more of a virtual one. Many people are avoiding the office and experimenting with entrepreneurial roles as well as contracted ones. This means less overhead expenses and less time wasting time. More work is getting done and new ideas are coming to life. It’s a thing of beauty.
If you or your office is on the fence about offering the ability to work remotely I have to ask, what is it you are waiting for?.