I’ve been working remotely for almost two years. While I was at my last job, I spent a good amount of time working in the office, from home, and interacting with colleagues who lived and worked from other parts of the world.
Overall, I really enjoy remote work. It allows me to work from wherever I want to be, and I find that I can enjoy more productive work without the distractions of office life. Being on a small team is really helpful, as I don’t seem to miss out on many opportunities for communication, and barely ever feel out of the loop.
That being said, remote work is not without its pitfalls. Somedays it’s hard to focus, and the distractions of home can be as bad as the ones you’d find in an office. Many times I have to get out of the house to work from a coffee shop or some other location to really buckle down and get shit done.
Earlier this year, I finally finished reading Scott Berkun’s The Year Without Pants, a book examining the inner workings of Automattic, the company responsible for WordPress.com. Automattic is an entirely distributed company. Employees work from wherever they currently reside. Reading the book was kind of surreal, as I knew and had worked with some of the people mentioned within. Even though I had prior knowledge of how the company works, I really took a lot away from it. One passage in particular really resonated with me (emphasis mine):
Remote work is merely physical independence, and the biggest challenge people who work remotely face is managing their own psychology. Since they have more independence, they need to be masters of their own habits to be productive, whether it’s avoiding distractions, staying disciplined on projects, or even replacing the social life that comes from conventional work with other friendships.
In March I moved to downtown Seattle, in a super awesome neighborhood called Capitol Hill. Now, I go weeks without driving. I walk everywhere. I live within a block of an artisan butcher, cheese shop, 14 restaurants and a hand full of great bars. I live in an apartment building that was built in 1916, and is filled with awesome and interesting people. I can look out of my windows and see that Seattle is alive and people are out there, doing their jobs and going about their lives. I get my watercooler chat by going to the bar a half block up from my house where the patrons and bartenders know my name. I can have that social life, even though I’m not working in an office filled with people every day. Truly, I couldn’t ask for a more awesome job or a more amazing location to work from.
NOTE: I started writing this post in January and just now cleaned it up. Apologies for any broken/jarring transitions.