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Look back on working remotely for the past year

Jan Dvorak
Developer, organizer and sci-fi writer.
Updated on ・3 min read

I have been working remotely for over a year. At first it was part-time and eventually it became full-time work. More than half of that time I was abroad in Japan and the other half I was back in Europe.

While in Japan the major hurdle were the timezones differences, but the freedom it afforded to me was great. Now I was able to stay in Japan while working full-time remotely, because of the extra ordinary circumstances due to my plane being cancelled and wasn't able to leave for months (personally from my own well being it was a mistake to leave when I left). During my time in Japan it was great as it provided great source of income with freedom that allowed me to travel and structure everything to my needs. Exactly the benefits touted by proponents of remote work.

Things changed when I came back to Europe and few weeks after the country was hit with a lock down which meant that for over 3 months I have not seen anyone, except my family members, I wasn't able to travel and there were often interruption to my work from family members.

While I haven't had problems working remotely while in Japan, now under a total lock down in the EU I think I have reached a tipping point. When looking at the company standup's I have also one interesting pattern. Everyone except me either had already started family or was moving around and being around people or some variation.

I have then talked with other people and the consensus was that for people like me (30 years old, single) remote work was not a good choice. Especially now that I can't go out and meet people when I'm at a time in my life when I should be starting family and settling down.

While looking back at my time in Japan I made occasional trips and in general had a great time. I have heard about other people around my age that opted for going to office to have more contact and establish themselves in the society so that they can settle down.

The benefits of remote work shine the most when you are on the move or have children to take care of, but as I have discovered in the past few months, when you are single and suddenly are in a position that you can't travel or meet other people (away from keyboard), it can lead down a very dark path. Especially if you desire to start a family and settle down. With lock downs you can't even mitigate this much as there is nowhere to go and many people are scared to meet. This dark path had manifested, with me, most dangerously when I got food poisoning and had to lay in bed for few days which resulted in a dangerous depression that hampered my recovery.

I now have quiet a few options on how to continue. For the near term future nothing will change (except me probably trying to get out if possible), but I have to prepare financially. As after things loosen up a bit, that will be the time for hard choices and possibly the end of my remote work, though I hope that if that is the case, it will only be temporary. At the end of the day the freedom it can provide is truly amazing.


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