Work / life balance is a popular phrase to throw around to describe the intersection of a person’s career choices and their social pursuits outside of their working life, but most of the discussion focuses on spending that work life inside of an office. That doesn’t have to be the case.
Due to the evolving nature of technology, the ability to work from wherever the hell you want on planet earth is more of a reality now than it ever was before.
I’ve heard every excuse and justification from employers and cohorts alike as to why remote work is a bad choice. “It limits your face time with higher ups and promotion opportunities” or “Employees get less work done remotely” are some of the more common arguments.
In my anecdotal experience, neither of these pitfalls are accurate for the majority of the remote workforce.
Remote work allows employees the opportunity to spend time with their families, friends, loved ones, and pets. We have such a limited time on earth as mortal beings prone to accidents and disease, and its in our best interest to fill our heads with reams of experiences and landscapes to remember fondly as we advance in age.
My late grandmother once told me, in her 90s, that she had reached a point in her life where she no longer looked forward, but instead focused on looking back. She expressed her undying gratitude for the travel and the people and the life wisdom she absorbed when she was younger and more mobile. That sentiment should resonate with every human being.
As I’ve grown older, family and friends and loved ones have become increasingly important to my life. My knowledge and perspective growth is vital. I want to see, hear, and meet as many places and people as possible before I die.
As a non-religious person, I know my time is limited. I know my consciousness has its beginning, middle, and end. No parts of me want to miss out on the laughs, the gasps, the beauty, the chaos, or the bewilderment that life can bring with open borders.
If you have children, do you really want to miss out on their steps toward growing up? Do you want to be unavailable and absent in their times of confusion and need? They’re young for such a short period of time and those are the moments that you’ll hold most dear as they age and raise their own families, accomplish their own goals.
To the argument about less face time leading to decreased promotion opportunities, I say people who subscribe to that notion have not tried hard enough. I’ve worked in roles where remote video conferences were the norm, and I’ve never felt out of the loop.
You have to over-communicate and make yourself available. Pick up the phone, set up a WebEx, talk over Skype or Facetime and make your presence known. Your networking and career mobility are in your own hands no matter where you sit.
If you believe that remote employees are less productive than ones who reside in an office building, I would challenge that assumption wholeheartedly as well. Reducing the need for travel time to an office, the distractions that surround employees in a corporate setting, and the feeling of punching the clock upon arrival and departure are all vines that strangle the productivity and morale out of employees.
Me, I work best remotely. It gives me time to do heads down work in between conference calls and take a detailed, attentive approach to creating, editing, and giving feedback on documents and presentations. It allows me the freedom to pour a cup of coffee, make breakfast, and bust out a day’s worth of work in a few morning hours.
I feel happier, more serene, and freer when I’m working remotely. If I need to be surrounded by people, I drive to Starbucks with my laptop. If I’m focused on completing a long project, I lock myself in my home office and get to work. I finish far more in an 8 hour period remotely than 12-15 hours in-office.
If you’re a business owner, you should look at this article through a more pragmatic lens. You pay exponentially more money for your employees when rents, leases, office amenities, and commuter benefits are factored into the plan. You could be saving millions of dollars by switching to a more remote-friendly model and making your employees happier and more productive, thus retaining them longer.
You no longer have to worry about snowstorms, canceled trains, or flat tires inhibiting your top-performing employees from making it to the office for the day. You’re giving a highly-valued appreciation for your coworkers and their hard work by understanding the need for flexibility and respecting their lifestyles.
Remote work opportunities give people more time to spend on bettering themselves through exercise and exploring personal hobbies, making time for the people they care about, and taking care of household chores and obligations.
Folks with travel aspirations will no longer go on sabbaticals because they have the freedom to work from the French Riviera or riverside in Montreal. They can get Wi-Fi on an island and send their polished PowerPoint decks before taking a dip in the mini pool in their private villa.
You’re also promoting a valuable mindset in the work culture of your business by empowering employees to be more proactive, independent, and agile. People will be encouraged to work on their own without micromanagement and it will allow new and revolutionary ideas to flourish. No longer beholden to a certain way of doing things, efficiencies can be fostered and gained. Workflows can be refined.
I’ve never worked in an office that was more comfortable and technologically advanced than my home office and my output, my mental state, my speed, my accuracy, and my creative problem solving works best when unrestricted by tired convention.
There is so much more to life than work, and so much more to work than having it dominate and restrict your life.