My friends were planning a get together last November at a cabin in Virginia. While we were chatting and figuring out arrangements, one of my friends said, “We can head up on a Friday, but if we do, I’ll have to work from the car. I can turn my phone into a hotspot for internet.”
I didn’t bat an eye at that at all. It’s become normal to be able to work from anywhere, even a moving car. And while in this situation it worked out for us, it isn’t always optimal to be able to work from, well, everywhere. It can be difficult to separate your work from your personal life if you don’t have a dedicated work-from-home space, and many people struggle to stop checking work emails while with family or friends.
I consider myself an elderly millennial and, contrary to what some might believe about my generation, I didn’t enjoy my one year of working remotely for a fully virtual company. At the time, I lived in a 650-square-foot basement apartment in the heart of Washington, DC. My dedicated workspace was tiny (as in, just the desk and the chair). There was no way for me to truly separate my home from my work. There are alternatives to working directly from your home, but in terms of inclusion, some people don’t have the money to create their own office or rent something like a WeWork space. I had to make do with what I had.
My position had strange hours: being at my desk and ready to work by 9 a.m., ending the day around 5 p.m., and then working a few nights a week from 10-midnight with overseas contractors. I work to live, not the other way around, and I love my sleep! I used to work 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. when I was a newspaper copy editor, and that schedule was hard on me, so I had hoped to stick to 9-5 if I could help it.
I’m also a relatively introverted person who gets my daily dose of social interaction by going to an office and speaking with my coworkers. So, when I worked remotely, it was difficult to fit weekday social time into my routine. I didn’t stick to an exercise plan, and I found the outside world overwhelming when I finally did get up and leave my apartment.
For my personality, it didn’t go well. As I look back on it, I realize that my time working remotely could’ve gone better if I had laid down stringent rules as to when I would be working, made a better plan to socialize and exercise, and asked for the company culture and expectations to be better defined. But hindsight is 20/20, and I didn’t realize any of those things at the time!
Despite my experience, I recognize that remote opportunities are invaluable for people with chronic pain, health issues or anxiety disorders that would otherwise hinder their ability to work. I hope that the future of work is accessible and bright for everyone—whether you’re on the road, someone who only works remotely a couple days a week, an introvert who needs an office space, or a remote-working whiz.
Lisa spoke in the “The Future of Work is Here” session during SURGE Optimism 2018, an interactive virtual conference hosted by AssociationSuccess.org on November 7th-9th. Click here to watch the sessions on demand.