by Lisette Sutherland
Technology is making the traditional 9-to-5 grind less necessary. Mobile devices, centralized data, and all kinds of apps and software are helping us stay connected wherever we are. So naturally, this creates new possibilities for increased work–life freedom, as more and more of us can work remotely.
In the past, when we spoke of work life balance, we assumed that work and life shouldn’t overlap or blend. Increasingly, the conversation is turning towards work-life fusion, where the lines between work and life are blurred. And this trend is even more prevalent when when you work remotely.
The interesting side effect is that having more work life freedom is making people happier at work.
What type of work lends itself to remote work?
Some people are well-suited to telecommuting, whether it’s because they are introverted or they are parents or military spouses. Examples of remote jobs done by knowledge workers include:
- graphic designers
- customer support
- community managers
What are the benefits of working from home? What makes people happy working from anywhere? I’ve interviewed more than 80 remote teams, and in those interviews, four main themes emerged:
- Freedom from the commute
- Freedom to make our own schedules
- Freedom to create our own spaces
- Freedom to choose our work
Not surprisingly, the number one reason people want to work remotely is to end the dreaded commute.
It’s not that people wanted to get away from the office. They didn’t want to go there in the first place.
Remote Work Reason #1: Freedom from the commute
Around the world, commuting times vary from a few minutes to a few hours per day. Every minute we commute is a minute we lose spending time on something we want to do. On top of that, the journey is not known for being relaxing. We are dealing with traffic jams, crowded buses and trains, delays and all the noise and smells that come with being packed into small spaces with strangers .
Getting to and from work takes away the time people have with their families or hobbies. And as much as people may like their jobs, a bad commute can ruin a great job.
Remote Work Reason #2: Freedom to make our own schedules
Close behind the dreaded commute, the next most popular reason given for leaving the office is simple freedom. The freedom to create our own schedules. To some, it’s the ability to take a walk or a nap during the day. To some, freedom means traveling the world.
Having the freedom to create my own schedule during the day is one of the reasons that resonates strongest with me when it comes to working remotely.
I once had a job where everyone was required to be in the office by 9 a.m. There wasn’t any particular reason to be at the office — all of the work was online — but regardless, the CEO required a 9 a.m. start time for everyone. I am a runner and would run in the mornings before work. Some days I felt great out on the trail and wanted to go longer but I couldn’t because of the arbitrary 9 a.m. start time. It felt like I was a kindergartener instead of in a professional adult.
Remote Work Reason #3: Freedom to create our own spaces
Working from anywhere gives us the opportunity — the luxury even — to design and choose a workspace where we’re most productive.
Some prefer being in an office with others while some thrive while traveling. And then there are some, like myself, who prefer to work from home. It’s the small things that I appreciate most like my standing desk, my favorite coffee being able to control the temperature, the neighbor cat who comes over to visit, playing my own music on a surround sound system, and going running in the middle of the day. I could go on and on. My home office is a haven where I’m most comfortable and productive.
But more than just loving our spaces is loving the choice. Many people are more productive when they can choose the location where they work.
Remote Work Reason #4: Freedom to choose our work
It’s attractive to be able to choose where we work, whether it’s in our home office or our work-holiday office. But what’s equally, if not more, attractive is the choice of projects and people we work with.
People, both those who work remotely and those who are co-located, want to work on challenging problems, have pride in the work they do and surround themselves with competent teammates.
Whether it’s to spend more time with our families, or whether we want to spend more time on the road, the ability to fuse work and life and maximize our freedom makes us happy workers indeed. Get tips for being location independent on the Collaboration Superpowers mailing list.
What do you like best about working from anywhere?
Post in the comments below!