The obvious benefit of working remotely is location freedom. I get to pick where I work. Normally it’s from my desk, but I’ve also moved the laptop to the back yard, the front porch, the dining room, my stationary bike, etc. I’ve ventured to coffee shops and worked from relatives’ homes as well. The ability to change venues and sceneries without fuss helps me to keep things fresh.
Location freedom isn’t the only benefit of working remotely. Without the confines of an office, time becomes more flexible.
In a way location freedom creates time freedom. The clear winner is getting back commute time. The ability to use that commute time as I see fit is a big win. On days I do go to the office, I often take public transit and use that time for reading. When I drive, I queue up podcasts. It’s not entirely wasted time, but the commute limits choices. Besides, I would rather sit in my own backyard and crack open a book (and perhaps a beer) during the time I would be riding home on a bus.
I find myself leveraging the location freedom to increase my time freedom. I’m not increasing my available time beyond the commute savings (that would be magic). I simply shuffle the use of my time around.
For example, I insert some house chores into my workday. Yeah, I admit I take care of things during my workday. The key is that I don’t take that time away from my work time. The work gets done and my employer gets what they expect in terms of time commitment. I simply start a little earlier, cut my lunch shorter and stay on a little later. In exchange I insert breaks to start a load of laundry and later fold it. I can also use my lunch hour to mow the lawn, which would be hard if I had to drive home first. Other times I step away from the desk for a walk or run when I get tired.
All of these little breaks take place on my schedule in coordination with expectations from work.
I am not my own boss. To make sure my time freedom never becomes a problem, I carry my phone around. This allows me to be reachable by the same ways I would be reached at the computer. Now I don’t need to worry about explaining to my colleagues why I seem to have been unavailable for 20 minutes. I am still available and more importantly happy to respond.
The only thing needed to make this successful is a respect for the obligations to work and flexibility in exercising the time freedom. Work comes first during the day. As long as the work gets done it makes little difference whether I worked straight through or whether I took five 15-minute breaks and a lunch.
Loving and crushing remote work,