Are you staring at this screen beneath the skull-buzzing glow of a fluorescent light in an open concept office?
Are you reading this sentence repeatedly, trying to focus over someone’s Bieber playlist?
Have you gained 15 pounds in the last year because your life now largely consists of sitting on your ass for 10+ hours a day?
Is your daily commute causing major anxiety? Do you now begin and end your day with traffic stress?
If you’re like me, no amount of money or upward mobility is worth that type of suffering.
My health and sanity are simply not for sale.
So my workaround is working remotely.
Of course in the grand scheme of things, these are first world problems. But if you were presented with the opportunity to earn a paycheck without having to deal with the corporate grind - would you take it?
As a content writer, creative, and overall square-peg-in-round-hole person, my productivity takes a nose dive in a “normal” office setting. I can’t write and edit well in those environments, and I was fortunate to have a boss who understood that. It took some time, but after proving myself on a trial basis, I now work remotely full-time.
If you're curious about how I successfully escaped from the corporate jailhouse, I’ll be sharing more of that story soon.
Common sense should tell you that a remote gig isn’t for everyone, and if you’re considering asking your boss to cut you loose, there some things you should consider first. If you can't handle some of these challenges, remote work may not be a good option for you.
If you work remotely, but most of your colleagues have to go into the office, prepare for some digital side-eye.
On the surface it may look like you’re being given an unfair privilege. So it will be up to you to make sure you’re going above and beyond to demonstrate your value from a distance. Your communication skills will need to be beyond sharp, and you'll need to be proactive to ward off problems.
Also, remember that relationships matter, and they're harder to cultivate online. So find ways to build camaraderie, and remember that there are humans on the other side of your screen. People will like you more if you use your influence to open doors for others; if you’re in a position to help a colleague achieve a better work/life balance - do it.
The Freedom Problem
My job requires that I sign on during regular business hours, and I need to be fully available during that time for calls and meetings.
But if suddenly, you’re no longer subject to a time clock, you may find yourself still in your pajamas at 3:00, knuckle deep in a tub of hummus - not a good look.
My sanity requires that for the most part, I’m the architect of my day’s flow.
But be honest, how well do you function without structure?
Working remotely requires you to set your own schedule, manage your own timelines, ignore distractions (omg internet!), and like I said before, communicate like a boss. If you struggle with those things, you should probably stay in the office.
I’m an introvert who loves people, and when I connect, I go deep. It’s taken me years to figure out that I need quiet, solo time to charge my batteries every single day.
If you need constant, in-person contact with others, it goes without saying that you’ll be very unhappy working remotely. You'll also dislike this type of work if it’s hard for you to act independently and without consistant affirmation.
My network of colleagues has been growing lately, but I don’t actually work with any of the women in this circle (yet). To combat the isolation factor, I’m connecting with other professional women I can talk shop with, learn from, and bring together for happy hour. Sure it takes more effort because I don’t have office buddies at my disposal, but it’s worth it because of....
The Fear Factor
Remember, you can’t always halt the presses because someone in another time zone didn’t respond to an email. So sometimes, you’ll need to make decisions in a pinch, or go above someone’s head for answers. You’ll need a strong sense of autonomy and self-reliance to get things done by yourself.
Bottom line? You can’t be afraid to set boundaries, ask questions, or push back.
And the thing is, it’s more challenging to build that professional hutzpah when you’re on your own. There’s no one sitting next to give you a pat on the back or to redirect you. If you already tend to second guess yourself, going solo may not be a good move. It’s a slippery slope, and soon you might be questioning the tone of every email in your inbox, and overthinking all of your communication. Which of course makes it really hard to do good work.
So did I scare you back into your cube? I hope not.
In spite of all these challenges, I wouldn't trade my remote hustle for anything. I do a combination of corporate and freelance work (holler!), so it's a great fit for me.
Fellow digital nomads, let's talk.
What are your greatest challenges working solo, and how are you overcoming them?