At the time of this writing I am approaching my first anniversary of working from home for a remote company. Since WFH is in the news so much these days, I was invited to candidly share my personal perspective of the remote work lifestyle and the primary ways this arrangement has benefited my life as a knowledge worker. What follows are my own experience and opinions.
I'm in my mid-30s and have spent the majority of my IT career based from a cubicle in an office building. I am now a technical consultant working on various client projects from home. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but after two and a half years based from my home office I've come to fully appreciate the benefits of the remote working lifestyle.
Let's start with the obvious first:
Actually, I do still have a "daily commute" –sort of. What I've done is replace commuting to work with a different daily routine I'll talk about later. The difference now is that the common challenges of a typical commute have been eliminated for me:
- Weather (It can snow fairly heavily where I live!)
- Events (Ever been interrupted from an in-office meeting by a mandatory building fire drill?)
- Gas (Have you seen fuel prices lately??)
- If taking public transit, public transit-related issues (Which can include any of the above, plus the following unique considerations including transit pass glitches, unexpected delays or line closures, personal safety and public health concerns, etc.)
With all of these factors eliminated, it's been years since I've been late to work. The stress of the morning rush simply no longer exists.
I used to believe in "work/life balance" and spent considerable mental energy planning how best to segment my time throughout the day, putting considerable effort into clearly separating my work life from my "home" or "real" life. Eventually I learned to perfect that balance, even utilizing commutes as a sort of buffer between home and the office. These days, I experience what I call "life balance.”
For me, life balance simply means the ability to live my "real" life around my "home" life. Having to deal with "home" matters like children being home from school sick or being required to be present for an appliance repair during the workday used to have the potential to cause or exacerbate friction in the employer/employee relationship. Now, when an unexpected “home” situation manifests, I simply take care of it and I usually only end up spending a few minutes tending to it. Speaking of…
I mentioned earlier that I've replaced my workday commute with a different routine. If you haven't already guessed from the above, I take my kids to school every day. When my schedule allows, I will also pick them up. The caveat here may be that the schools are all relatively close, but the actual point I'm trying to make is that I'm able to do this at all.
Most of us likely grew up with at least one parent or guardian working outside of the home. In my case, my dad's jobs took him far away from home frequently. He worked long hours at the office when he was in town and not in the field. It pains me to admit that the experience put a strain on our relationship during my formative years but we have been working toward making amends and I am very happy to say that we are now in a good place.
I don't want this same experience for my kids. I would have wanted for my dad to be home more but he couldn't help that. As parents, we should want better for our children than what we had, even if what we had growing up was relatively good. I can't think of a better way to improve upon what I had than to be present in the daily lives of my children. Plus, no need for after school arrangements and no worrying about where or who they'll be with while I try to fight my way through rush hour traffic.
It's also nice seeing my wife more often than evenings and weekends. I'm pretty sure she's thrilled by the fact that I've taken up keeping the kitchen clean as a way to clear my head between project tasks or meetings, too!
And, most importantly, I don't think our Golden Retriever has ever been happier — unlimited belly rubs!
I realize that many jobs cannot be done from home indefinitely, or even at all whatsoever! I'm not here to argue that we should all go back to working how we had to during lockdown. If you do this kind of work and want to work mostly in an office, please do– by all means! What I am saying is there is no one-size-fits-all approach to work, especially in tech.
Working from home has greatly improved my life by allowing me the opportunity to simply live my life. Since I love bulleted lists:
- I'm not chained to an uncomfortable desk or locked into a grinding daily commute
- I'm not missing valuable, once-in-a-lifetime moments with my wife and children
- I'm not obsessing over dividing my time between two seemingly separate lives and am therefore more present and engaged at work
- I can handle the daily ebb and flow of life demands with absolutely no impact or interruption to my client or projects
- There are many directly work-related benefits as well, but I will perhaps discuss them in a different post as they fall outside of the scope of this article. (Part Two, anyone?)
I’ve never been happier than I am now working from home full-time at Artisan. I'm fully engaged in my projects and feel like a full member of the teams I'm part of. I don't have to constantly strive for a sense of work/life balance as I can simply live and work. I can provide for my family and not miss time with them. At the end of the day, that's all I'm after.
How would working remotely benefit your life?