Friday, March 15, 2013

Working remotely: six months in

It's nearly six months since I started working remotely for my employer so I thought I'd pull together some thoughts about how it's going.

The good:
  • Life multitasking: no surprise, it's lovely to be able to throw in a load of laundry or get dinner started during a short break from work. 
  • Focus: it is SO much easier to get work done without bunches of people around. 
  • Space control: I now have a stand-up desk, and when I get tired of standing (I can do about 2/3 of the day now) I can go sit on my couch or at a table. When the good weather gets here I hope to work outside sometimes.
  • Food control: It has to be said: I'm not sure I could have stuck to this cleanse if I were out in the world all day. Sticking at home for almost all my meals has made it a lot easier to give up dairy/soy/corn/gluten/nightshade vegetables/citrus/peanuts/caffeine for a few weeks. To my credit, last year I DID make it through a month of vegan eating, so it's possible I could have made it but I can't say for sure. 
  • The people factor: boy do I love not smelling coworkers' stinky food or hearing them hack up a lung when we are all devoutly wishing they would stay home. 
The bad:
  •  The other people factor: I worried I'd be really lonely, and as it happened I first lived with a friend, now have my sister living with me. But I miss my coworkers and our sometimes silly lunchtime conversations. I was lucky to have really great people around all day, who I was genuinely happy to see! Online communication is better than nothing but sure isn't the same.
  • Fresh air: I've been surprised and disappointed at how little I leave my house during the workday. I definitely got more regular exercise at work in the form of short walks with friends looking for a break from the day! Now I tend to work past noon, and grab some food, and do something productive like a grocery store run or a short poke about in the garden. I've set a goal to go on a walk three times each week and am not doing great at meeting it! 
  • Distractability: It has to be said: you know how the internet gives you ten billion things to look at instead of doing work? It's still here, and then I've got a good chunk of the REAL world to distract me too! Instead of working I can do laundry! Re-organize some boxes! Poke around in the garden! I've been pretty good about working through distractions, but they are very real. 
  • Sharing: I have no willing victims to bring in baked goods for - now if I bake something, it has to be for a planned event or I know I'll wind up eating all the goods. 
The unexpected: 
  • I thought I'd spend a lot of time in coffee shops for people interaction, but that hasn't been necessary. 
  • I am getting my work done and enjoying a reasonable percentage of it; I wasn't at all sure what I'd be doing or how I would feel about it. I'm fortunate that I perceive my company's expectation is that I'm available and working from 8-5 every day. I don't think I would do well with open-ended time expectations - I would never start and never finish!
  • No colleagues in day to day life: Since my social life overlapped almost 100% with my work life, I was militant about not talking about work in my off-hours. But now that I don't have any colleagues to talk shop with, I was surprised at how eagerly I engaged in work talk in my free time when I visited in December.
To sum up:
I feel extraordinarily lucky to have gotten to work remotely. It's pretty much what I thought it might be like - I miss the people and some things about the place, but I am also so grateful and happy to be back where I wanted to be.

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