When I first started seeking a remote position, it wasn’t for better work/life balance, it wasn’t to avoid a stressful commute, and it wasn’t for the opportunity to wear pajamas all day (though I’ve now come to appreciate all of these advantages). I started seeking a remote position out of necessity.
My husband is in the US Army and this requires us to move frequently and abruptly. So after we got married, my choices were to give up pursuing my career, which I enjoyed and was passionate about, or find a company who would let me do it from wherever life took me - I quickly decided on the latter.
And luckily, after a few months, I found one. It was somewhat of a surreal transition after working in strictly corporate environments. I had to learn how to manage my own time and workload, how to communicate effectively in virtual environments, and how to focus while working independently all day long. And eventually, I did.
But, there were also a few surprising things I wasn’t expecting to learn in my new position, and they’ve now come to shape the way I’ll look at working for the remainder of my career.
These are the three unexpected lessons I’ve learned from working for a remote company that truly values work/life balance:
1. I have more motivation to do a better job. I hear from friends and family all the time, “You’re so lucky to have the flexibility to work from home!” And you know what, I am! I fully understand that many companies out there still have not embraced the idea of letting their employees work remotely, even after multiple studies have proven the benefits. Quality, respected, remote positions are not necessarily easy to find, and for me, this is a huge motivation to succeed in my current job. I’ve never felt happier in a position, because I’ve never been offered such freedom or trust, and this in-turn pushes me everyday to do my best work, to ensure that I can continue to live and work with this lifestyle.
2. My work has improved, because I’m able to call the shots. I’m one of those hyper-productive morning people (partly coffee-related). I feel inspired in the morning, I’m flowing with energy and ideas and motivation to get things done. Like many other people I know, this energy usually fades after lunch. If I was in a 9 to 5 office, this would mean I only really have 4 hours of super productive working-time. But since I’m able to work remotely for a company that lets me flex my hours, I’ve found I do my best work between 5am – 1pm. Still a full-time schedule, but flexed around when I can be my best employee.
It’s a total win-win. Imagine the benefits companies could embrace and time-waste they could avoid if they allowed employees to work only during their most productive windows. I know this is not feasible for all companies (such as brick and mortar stores)—but any organization who can make it happen should definitely be considering it.
3. I’ll never go back. This is something I really did not expect to happen. To be completely honest, I thought working remotely would be lonely, boring, and maybe even unchallenging. I never thought it would be totally fulfilling, difficult but in the best way—the way that forces you to innovate, and make me feel healthier as a person and an employee. Now that I’ve seen the kind of work I can do while also enjoying a balanced life, I will never be able to go back to a constricting 9 to 5. It’s an incredible feeling to know I have control over the different parts of my life, and that I have been able to maintain and grow a successful career despite multiple changes in location.
It’s time for companies to make more “lucky” ones like my colleagues and me. People who can get up and take their dog on a walk when they’re feeling uninspired, people who can create work schedules around their kids needs and not the other way around, people who can seek a boost in creativity by going to work in a coffee shop instead of a grey, drab cubicle—and of course, people who can wear their PJs when they please. Because c’mon, real pants are the worst.