What remote work is about

For a few years now, i have been working mostly remote, like 90%+ of the time at home. Literally in our bedroom, given the size of the house we are renting. I live with my family of 3 kids, so not much space to spare for a home office.

I find it works really good for me, since it fits naturally with how i want to work, and share the time with my life. Some might say there is good work and life balance here, but in my case, there is only harmony in life with work in it.

If i have to commute to an office for work, the travel time tricks the mind into thinking that it is switching to work mode. Since i don’t have a travel time, it is rare to encounter the switch, or at least it happens in a different form.

Certainly, i still have work mode and life mode, but they are scattered along my day. That instead of having a continuous 8-12 hours of work, i have maybe multiple 3 hours of blocked time for work, with a few hours of personal stuff in between.

This makes for an interesting daily habit, that i find to be natural and attune to my weird self.

One downside, is i miss the in-office socializing. Missing it is a concern if there is a need to create a stronger bond with a team. In my case, as a consultant, i primarily write ideas, and occasionally write code, which i often work by myself. So the need is not significant.

I do work with other people, and get to meet them regularly. Though these meetings are agenda based, and not loose / flexible encounters where we happen to be in the same space. So the chance for socializing is limited.

I have a strong self motivation system, that rarely need nudging or pushing to work. Which is a big advantage in being remote and autonomous. And i am an over communicator, and tend to manage expectations all the time. In terms of productivity, i find i am doing good on this. The people i work with, also confirms this.

When at home, since there is less distractions, i find myself doing a lot of work. And I have a longer work time, since there is no commute or socializing to squeeze in. This makes me productively better than when i am in an office.

As i work, I behave like a caveman or a loner kind, isolated for most of the time. When i was young, i use to study and practice math/computer exercises by myself, while many of my friends are enjoying outside. I do feel the cabin fever sometimes, but i think not as strong as others might imagine. I am happy being at home for weeks on, and not have a need to go out.

Another observation is how much work i can do. I work on at least 3 projects at a time, in varying stages. I try not to start two or more at the same time, since that is impossible to keep up. My projects are not always commercial ones, and these includes community and learning activities i am part of. I consider them as projects so i can set aside time, just as i do for commercial work.

There are times when my work involves coordinating with other people. Since everyone is connected most of the time, it is easy to reach out to them. Though, it is good to consider the nuisance of async mode and real-time mode in communicating. By default every comms online is async, and can be done async until it is needed to be real-time. Real-time only make sense if, the back-and-forth is making it difficult for people to understand. Further, real-time with video is useful to regularly schedule a face time with the people i work with.

Location matters a lot. I realized i can’t work as productive as i want to be when i am traveling. In addition to the times when i am on the move, the place i am staying or the options where i can work is not as conducive for me, as compared to my home. Always, i expect a downgrade in my level of productivity.

When it comes to remote work, instead of imagining a person who is constantly traveling, an ideal scenario for me, is one who is working from home. Or in a place where i have established my daily routine.

Certainly, the flexibility of being in different locations, and still be able to work for income, is a big deal. And is the reason it draws a lot of interests. But it is not an ideal situation. Perhaps for less complex, less demanding type of work, constant travel is a not a concern. However, for my work, where i handle often complex situation, i need the stability of my routines when working.

In closing, remote work is not something that happens on its own. It needs to be designed based on how one wants to work and produce value. There are implications, such as, if work productivity is not at least as good as being in office, then the cost to maintain it, is difficult to justify. Perhaps for those who naturally make decisions and design their life, it is a good fit. For the rest, i think the readily available and comfort of working in an office is a much better choice.