To start, I’m sat in a coffee shop, 72 miles from my flat and I’m working. Crazy, I know. Technically right at this moment I’m writing this article, shhhhhh.
I always thought when the time came for me to plunge into full-time work, my working day would go something like this: Me, sat in some office, surrounded by my colleagues, some I enjoyed the company of, some I did not. Slaving away to get everything done within the 9–5 slot; with which I am required to be present. But little did I know, this did not have to be the case at all.
Towards the end of my degree I was working part-time, for a small agency who primarily produced custom Wordpress websites and was looking to carry on full-time. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was my first commercial experience with backend web development and I couldn’t complain; I didn’t need to do much to get the position, I came in on an internship and it was clear I was over-qualified for the position anyway. So things were good and secure. In fact the office was only a 15-minute cycle from my Mums house which was my abode at the time.
As the end of my degree came closer and closer I was shocked to discover that the chief of the company didn’t value me as much as he let on, his offer was below average for the industry and he branded me with the “Recent Graduate Stamp”, which apparently meant I was lucky to get even minimum wage, despite the countless hours I’d spent learning and developing my skills beyond what was required to complete any work we had. This is the problem with non-technicals.
Because of this it was my intention to start looking for another position, something which I felt challenged me and enabled me to show my potential. It worked out nicely because my best-friend who I also worked with was doing the same. Then something extraordinary happened. I was offered a position to work from home for a “name your price” value by a friend of a friend. I was blown away, not only did I have the opportunity to work for a company who’s portfolio exceeded my expectations, but I also had the opportunity to try this “working from home” thing that seemed to become more and more popular, especially in digital industries.
At first I was skeptical. The idea of working from home/remotely initially seemed silly, the question “How do you manage to stay focused and not get distracted?” came up a lot from friends and family, even myself at the start. How would I manage my time? How would I separate home and social life from work life if there’s no physical separation? It’s not until more recently I have answers to these questions, almost 2 years after taking the plunge to work remote.
I’ve had to do many things in my life to find the right balance, and it’s only been possible with the help from friends and family.
For over a year I was cooped up in my bedroom, working, living and sleeping in a single room. I knew this wasn’t good for my physical or mental health. I occasionally went to the gym but I struggled to motivate myself because I was never able to get myself in the right frame of mind. My social life, which primarily consisted of drinking alcohol and playing video games was the only time I escaped the “work” part of my life. I gained weight and reached my highest recorded to date and I could feel my fitness gradually suffering. I knew this wasn’t good and things needed to change. I needed to take a different approach to my work-life and how I experienced it.
Working remote has given me so much flexibility in my life; along with the flexible hours my employer provided, I could go anywhere, I could do anything. So long as I got the work done and was around/available when I needed to be. But I wasn’t taking advantage of this.
Unlike some remote workers I didn’t decide to go down the “Digital Nomad” path, travelling only interests me from a leisure stand point, not a work one. I don’t think I’d be able to find the balance. I’d either be travelling, or working, not both and unless I was part-time or had a more hands off role, this wouldn’t suit me. I knew I needed to tackle the issues I had head on. Being 22 I was starting to grow out of the “living with parents bubble”. I wanted to move forward, get out and have my own space. I knew this is what I needed to do to help my mental health. Financially probably not the best idea, but does that really matter? What’s more important, my health or my wealth? I moved into a 2-bedroom flat not too far from my local town, closer to one of my bosses (and friend) and close to everything I needed, including a nice beach. This gave my enough space to separate the areas of my life, eating, sleeping, working and relaxing. I think this is the most important thing to get right when you do work from home.
Since moving out my relationships with my friends, family and girlfriend have improved, I’m generally a happier person and I’m taking the necessary steps to get my mental health in order. Mental health issues seem to be very common for those who work “behind a desk”, and despite me not really going to the gym anymore than I did before, I’m managing my diet more easily, side note: it might be helpful to know I’m a comfort eater, and I’m losing weight with very little effort. And I’d probably lose it even quicker if I got into a good routine with exercise, oh well, I guess that’s another goal I can try to achieve. One step at a time.
So I’ve rambled enough about myself and how working remotely has changed my life so far, but why is it amazing? Well, most of the time you don’t feel like you’re “going to work” (so long as you enjoy your job, if not, then I recommend you change that!) there’s no location which you can define as a constant place of work, everywhere can be work if you want.
Now I know that sounds like a bad thing as it blurs the lines even more, something which caused me problems before, but is it? Today for example I’ve driven my girlfriend back home 72 miles away (144 mile round trip), and instead of being restricted by location or a requirement to head home quickly so I can make it into the office, I can just bring my laptop with me and set myself down wherever I see fit. All I need is Coffee & Wifi and I’m happy. I couldn’t do this if I worked in an office. I couldn’t be writing this article, I couldn’t have just had a large Mocha on a sunny Monday morning. Instead I’d have been sat in an office, miserable, wishing I could do all of these things. Why should working stop me from enjoying my limited time on this earth? and why should working stop me from enjoying work. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing companies which are office based, but those companies don’t conform to your standard “office work-life” they give you the freedoms and benefits of working remotely within their offices. They know how important it is for their employees to be happy. Hopefully it’s obvious to which companies I am referring.
I urge you to (If you’re not already) work remotely or from home. Maybe you can convince your employer or find an in between where you can work wherever you want one day a week? It is great, and if you make the most of the time you do have you’ll find you enjoy your work much more than if you’re stuck in the office. You’ll be more productive and you’ll have more time for the things that matter the most in life; friends and family.
It is important to get a good balance. Working remote enables that. So let’s ditch the “old ways” and work towards a better tomorrow!
I hope you enjoyed this article, I thought I’d share some thoughts and appreciation for the subject :)
Originally posted here