Remote Advocacy

Published on May 23, 2019

Categories: Remote Life

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a strong proponent of remote work. For almost any "office job," there's no need to be physically present in an office. With the ubiquity of the internet and the tools we have today, people have the ability to work from anywhere. Note that I say "ability," not "option."

Now, that's not to say offices are necessarily bad. Some people prefer to work in an office. Nothing wrong with that. The problem is the requirement of being in an office.

Employment Pool

A non-remote company is limited to people in the local region (including long commuters) or those willing to move.

Imagine a company in a small town of 10,000 people. The odds of finding someone with the exact skill set needed is pretty small. Now, imagine that same company being open to remote employees. All of a sudden, the potential pool goes from about 7500 people (global adult population has averaged 73-75% for the last decade) to approximately 5.7 billion people.

Let's take it a step further. Those numbers consider all adults as potential workers. That doesn't work - not everyone does the same job. So, let's say 1% of the population does what's needed for a particular position. The non-remote company has a potential 7 people to choose from. The remote company has a potential 57 million people to choose from. If you factor in different skill levels (perhaps the company needs someone with 10 years of experience), the numbers drop even further.

I use a small town as an example, but it's by no means limited to that. I saw this when I lived in Albuquerque, which has a metro area population of just over 900,000 people. That's a significant number of adults (and jobs). It faced the same problem. After switching careers, the two companies I worked at were out of state. I eventually moved to Michigan, which is where the second company (where I currently work) is located.

Commuter Waste

Commuting is terrible on so many levels - waste of time, environmental impact, sheer cost (gas, vehicle wear and tear), etc. In my first career as a dental tech, I figured out I wasted about 4400 hours (just over 6 full months) of my life to commuting. Running those numbers was a bit jarring. That's over 2 full time work years. More importantly, it's time taken away from family, friends, events, developing new skills, hobbies, personal heatlh, etc.

Money Isn't Everything

Everyone wants more money, that's a given. Given the choice though, most people will choose personal freedom over money (granted, sometimes it takes money to achieve personal freedom, especially when debt is involved). This is purely anecdotal, but from what I've read and conversations I've had, there's a significant portion of the population that values non-monetary benefits over monetary rewards - flexible hours (9 to 5 is a terrible schedule - ask any night owl or anyone with kids in school), working remotely, more vacation time, etc.

I've turned down several job offers and potential interviews just because they weren't remote, including one that would have been a 50% increase in income but required moving and being in the office. That's a hard pass for me. Don't get me wrong, a 50% raise would be incredible (especially for achieving my other goals), but not at the cost of family, community, mental health, time, and freedom. Had it been remote, I would have seriously considered it.

Shift In Thinking

Remote work does require a bit of a shift in thinking. It eschews a lot of the traditional work place thoughts and practices, many of which are born out of the "we've always done it this way" mentality anyway (which is counter to innovation and progress). A few key points - less meetings (most are a waste of time anyway - lack of direction, people who don't need to be there, etc.), more written communication, and prefer results over hours put in.

Check out the Remote Only Manifesto for a practical look at that shift (and more ideas/tips).

Remote Work Tips

First off, remote work has nothing to do with a glamorous life. In fact, most of your productive work is going to happen during quiet times. Or maybe even in public places (coffee shops, co-working spaces, etc.) where you're free to tune everything out. If you do it right, you'll be more productive than with the constant interruption of an office (where you can't fully tune things out, just in case), as long as you're not constantly interrupted on whatever communication channels your company uses. Even then, if your company is doing it right, those shouldn't require immediate response anyway. The only real emergencies involve someone being physically hurt and needing to go to the hospital, and I've only seen that once in all my years of working. Anything else is urgent at best.

Get into a routine. Treat each day as if you're going to an office. It'll help you mentally prepare for the day. My routine is to get up and ready for the day (shower, brush my teeth, etc.), read for a few minutes, head to the coffee shop and work from there for 3 or 4 hours, head home and finish working from there. There is some variation to that as needed (trips to the store, kids' school events, etc.), but it always starts the same.

Don't forget to socialize! We are social creatures by nature. "Random" channels are great for teams, as are one-on-one DMs. Share those funny stories, memes, etc. Just don't expect an immediate response! Find your in-person community, too. For me, that's at my favorite coffee shop. I've developed good friendships with the baristas and other regulars there.