The idea of working remotely has been in my mind a lot lately. Whenever I want to get work done (mostly personal) my go-to spot is a coffeeshop a few blocks from where I live. Whether it’s blogging, reading, crocheting, homework, or any other project I’m working on, I feel the space yields itself to a productive environment for me.
There is a long community farmhouse table in the center of the shop where I usually sit on the end and see multiple groups/pairs/individuals come join – potentially also looking for that sense of community, belonging, and human interaction like I am. I find it a nice balance of social influence and working. The front facade of the shop is all windows (sans the glass door). Natural light and being able to see outside gives me more energy and more opportunities to gain inspiration and creativity. The coffee scents and baked goods give the space warmth plus times for me to break and purchase something.
It’s funny, I usually set up camp, work for a good 45-60 minutes, and then go buy something to drink! Because it is located in the middle of a neighborhood, I also break to walk around the block and to the library next door if I need a change of scenery. My headphones are always in tow, but it is a rare occasion where I put them on. The sounds around me become a white noise and that works great. It may be people talking, the music softly playing overhead, or the baristas brewing cups of coffee. They all relax me and put me in the mind to get work done.
Whenever I travel to a coffeeshop or a place to do work away from my home, it gives me that focus while I’m there because I did choose to leave the comforts of home, and I need to make the most of the time at the shop as well as the time it took to get ready and travel there in the first place. I do not wish to be wasteful of the resource of time (or gas!). I value how independent I am – working on my own, traveling by myself, doing things/attending events solo, you name it. Of course I value building relationships in each of those and if others want to come along, I am more than happy to have a buddy! However, my best work is done alone. My introverted brain as well as ability to think through things internally lends itself to at least in the beginning to work by myself and then present my work later, looking for critiques, next steps, and ways to collaborate. I like to think through things, deeply sometimes, before bringing it to a larger group. It is about confidence with competence.
One day, I hope to make working remotely a natural and normal part of my job. Here are some things I have (and will need to continually) considered about remote work:
Best Benefits of Remote Work
- Flexibility– I appreciate that there is no set office hour schedule that needs to be maintained. I know I can be consistent with whatever times I set for myself.
- Team Retreats– I love being able to meet with my colleagues/peers. My job now we have once a semester town halls/meetings with the whole division, and I look forward to connecting with the folks I work with on a regular basis but don’t see regularly. However, I am an introvert so having the majority of the year to be by myself is a win.
- Productive Environments – The phrase visibility does not equal productivity sticks with me. I know I am the most productive from 9am-12:30pm and in coffee shops or other public spaces. Other times, working at my kitchen table is just as good mid-afternoon.
Negatives of Remote Work
- Lack of in-person relationship building– I am not the best person on the phone, Facetime/Zoom/Skype is a little different but not the same as being with a person face to face. Although most of the work may be independent, I love being able to share and talk with people to get some energy, without distractions with technology.
- Wi-Fi/Tech Spaces– Although it would be great to go to an island or somewhere off the grid, working remotely requires lots of technology and the internet to be able to communicate and complete projects.
- Cabin Fever– There may be days where I don’t leave my house and productivity is no longer present. I would find it difficult to balance working where you live (and vice versa). There’s got to be some separation.
My Challenges for Remote Work
- Combatting Guilt– I’m always wondering what others are thinking of me and if I have a job where they may see me as just lounging around, I’ll feel like I should get up for a standard 8-5 job, business casual and all.
- Limited interpersonal interactions– Yes, I am introverted BUT I need others around me (even if we aren’t talking). Having bodies around and the possibility of striking up conversations are needed to add to my productivity and energy.
- FOMO– My other friends talk about their co-workers, are able to grab a cup of coffee spontaneously and are in the ‘know’ because of the immediacy of being in a shared office space.
I love the concepts of places like WeWork! Maybe that is the avenue I need to take to combat some of the negatives and challenges for me.
What is your style of working remotely?