Working from home

I’ve been working remotely for almost nine years. Over that time it’s been a combination of working for myself and working full time for a company, but the day-to-day of remote work has been the same in both of these situations.

As the years have gone by I’ve had a hard time expressing why it is that I love working from home. Then, this year, most people started doing it too, although what they’re experiencing isn’t really working remotely, they’re working from home during a pandemic, while care giving, worrying about health and safety, and generally feeling much more stressed out. 2020 isn’t normal in any way, so the remote working experience for most isn’t what it normally is.

But previous to this year, when I’ve met people I inevitably get asked about work and talk about working remotely and they ask how I like it. Most people balk at the idea, they don’t think they could do it. Many worry about separation issues or feeling like their house is the office. I realize that it doesn’t work for everyone, but many of the things people worry about are assumptions because they’ve never done it.

Last weekend Anne Helen Petersen’s weekly newsletter arrived and she talked at length about her new project, a book on working remotely that she’s writing with her partner. And for the first time ever I saw in words the perfect expression of why I love working remotely:

We don’t work from home because work is what matters most. We work from home to free ourselves to focus on what actually does.

Working from home has put work into a smaller, better place in my life, rather than at the center of it. That’s hard to believe for many, but the separation issue hasn’t been an issue for me; I work my hours, get my work done, and I walk away from the computer. I feel lucky because when life things happen, I can take care of them. I’ve used time when I’m at home working to get the chores of life done, such as laundry, throwing a meal in the crockpot, and more which means that when I’m not working, I’m able to do the things I really love to do. So much of the administration of life is easier because I have more time without the commute and can have things going while I’m working.

Over the past 5 years I’ve started up new hobbies, spent more time outside, and generally felt more relaxed and more focused. That’s because work has taken up a smaller and smaller role in my life and because it’s remote, I look for things in my community to meet social needs.

Again, it needs to be said clearly: 2020 is not a normal year to be working remotely and I don’t have any care giving responsibilities, so my life is quite different from many others I know. But I’ve found a freedom that only working from home can give me and I’d be loathe to ever give it up.