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Cover image for 6 Years Remote

6 Years Remote

kayis profile image K ・4 min read

In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, I see new "how to work remote" articles pop up every day, so I thought maybe someone is interested in my two cents.

This isn't one of those articles that try to help you to do remote work successfully, well maybe a bit :D, it's mostly the story of how I became a remote worker and what I learned along the way.

As the title suggests, I didn't start working remotely because of the virus, but some time ago.

At the end of 2013, I just powered through crunch time. I felt burned out and talked to my manager about what I had to expect in the future. Was there a raise? A better position? Anything?

Well, turned out, all my overtime was for nothing. The company wasn't doing good lately, and after a new investor replaced the management, it was geared into conservative mode. The startup party was over.

So I quit and started a sabbatical in 2014.

During that sabbatical, I worked on my master's degree at a remote university. Since the university was remote, I learned to work in geographically spread teams.

I found it really helpful to stay awake until late at night and sleep until noon. Then, without the need for an alarm, wake up, get a coffee, and do my thing, whether in be working on university projects, riding my bike, or play the guitar.

At the end of 2013, I also started a new relationship. Since I had enough of doing monogamy for various reasons, it was from the start defined as polyamory, and I got my second relationship in 2014.

There I was at the end of 2014. Multiple time filling hobbies, two relationships, and no time to work.

I liked that time so much that I wished it would never stop.

But well, I wasn't rich, so I had to do something for my money, but I didn't want to cut down on my private life.

Since I did all the remote university work in 2014, I wanted to try remote work. I signed up at AngelList in 2015 and interviewed with a few companies. After 2 months, I got a job at a startup that would let me work from home.

I worked there for 1 1/2 years and learned a lot about things I didn't like about work, that didn't have anything to do with offices.

People were calling me at 8 am and panicking via phone or chat. The company always wanted me to be "on-site" and even tried to bait me with a better job if I just wold move to their city and work in an office again.

But I couldn't.

In the last years, I learned that my life is more important than my career. Sure, I wouldn't drop every work-related task for my personal problems; after all, I want to be a reliable co-worker, but I knew my boundaries. I knew that my relationships would suffer if I moved to another city. I knew I would be miserable, so I didn't take that offer.

Well, things went on for half a year, investors came and threw out remote workers, and I had to go.

I didn't want to work as a freelancer at that time; I saw it mostly as a temporary arrangement until I'd finally get a permanent position.

But after that job, I thought about embracing freelancing 100%.

When you are seen as an employee, you're seen as an asset of the company you're working for, not a partner, and more often than not, management starts to treat you just like that, an asset.

As a freelancer, you are seen as a partner that brings in external knowledge, another company to buy skills from, that led to a much better work environment for me.

I started to search for "projects" and not "jobs", so I wouldn't get "hired" by a company but "sold" something to a customer.

People would treat me differently.

They'd ask politely for a meeting.

They would wait a few hours or days for an answer to an email.

They wouldn't tell me "what to do" but instead ask "how much I'd take" for a specific task.

I felt valued, and I could finally structure my work so it would fit my life and not the other way around.

I also got into blogging in 2017, years after I started working remotely. It was a new year's resolution, one of the few I kept doing. Blogging helped me to put the word out and find new opportunities.

If non-recruiters search for someone to help them, you should make it easy for them to find you. I was astonished to see the offerings I got after starting to blog. I got a book deal, paid blogging gigs, and even got asked by a university to teach development for them. Things you wouldn't usually get offered by a recruiter.

Not having to commute every day and getting my work hours down left me with much time to think about how to improve my life even further. This wasn't a noticeable change I expected when starting working remotely.

What I can say is, there are many opportunities you can get by reinvesting your new won free time to get even more out of remote work than "not wearing pants" :D

Look how you want to structure your life and see if remote work brings benefits to that. Find hobbies, like sports, music, tabletop games, or whatnot, something that lets you meet independently of your job. With that attitude, you won't wake up one day, sitting alone at home asking yourself how you should have a social life if you don't meet your co-workers every day.

Posted on Mar 16 by:

kayis profile

K

@kayis

Taking care of developer relations at Moesif and creating educational content at fllstck.dev

Discussion

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Working on remote is about 9 years. Never never want to come back to office work. I feel great, sometimes it's a bit harder to find a reliable job but anyway it's better because now I have more time to spend instead of wasting it for driving somewhere. :) More time with family.

But sometimes it's harder to find the difference home or work and depends on the client it could bring some kind of the stressful situations when you can't leave as it is for few hours and go home )

 

Very true.

Some clients are just bad news, haha.

But, yeah, I don't want to go back either :D

 

Unlike you, I'm starting today in remote work because of COVID-19 and this is my first day on remote work. And this post was really helpful and I'm very excited and anxious about my productivity and how I will be working on home enviroment.
Thanks man!

 

What really helped me, when I didn't get into the "flow", was to interleave work work with house work.

Code for 30-60min, then do the dishes, write part of an article, wash your clothes, etc.

That way I didn't sit before my PC all the time thinking "I have to be more productive"

 

I have been working remotely for a little over a year, I agree with the statement that it is no longer possible to return to work in the office.

 

This.

I mean, if you commute 30min one way, you already have lost 5h a week, and many people commute much more than that.

 

Right, it took me 2 hours a day to commute, and this is as much as 10 hours a week.

Yes.

I mean, sure you can read stuff or do something on the commute, but all these people who say they do stuff on their commute they can't do at home/work seem a bit sad to me. Like, how did theey structure their lifes that they have to be confined in a train before they can do specific tasks?

 

This is helpful and a bit relatable to me as I am in my second year of remote work. Thanks for sharing 😊

 

Glad you like it. :)

 

Very interesting perspective, especially on wether we want to be perceived as an asset or a partner. You've given me a lot to think about, thank you.

 

Yes, I think it's the most crucial point for me.

But I have to admit, not all companies are like this to their employees.

Most see, at least, their best people als partners, haha.

 

Excellent, insightful and very effective. I've been working remotely for nearly 12 years, and still love the flexibility. Yet there are plenty of challenges and it requires a lot of self-discipline :)

 

Discipline is hard, yes.

It helped a lot to blog, because now people are coming to me for advice and ask me if I can work on their projects. It's a lot harder doing all on your own.

 

Should I create some kind of dedicated work space / office area at home to keep things separated? Or is it better to include the work in your daily lifestyle?

 

I think it depends on your lifestyle.

I work at different locations, so it helps that I can work on my notebook form everywhere.

But I'm also planning a home office, so stuff like streaming gets easier, with cam and mic, things get a bit messy in my bed or the couch.

 
 

Well, I hope it helps somehow :D