When I first started officially working remotely in 2013 I thought I was in heaven. Remote work had been a goal since I had learned it was a thing in grad school. It’s not that I didn’t like some of my offices it’s just that I got so much more done when I wasn’t in the office.
When I was a great student I worked full-time for the university maintaining all the tech, especially the websites, for the aviation department. While I was officially tied to the office at the time it just wasn’t practical for me to be there in person each day. I was allowed to take classes during the day so getting back and forth between the main campus and the airport, where my office was, was a real pain in the ass and, as a result, I started working remotely from campus in between classes.
I would find a quiet nook in the library or student center and go to town either on one of the websites or on something related to my actual job. I built so much in those hours. When I was in the office I found myself struggling to focus on any deep work. Either there was a fresh support call, someone wanted to chat or something else took my attention and my output dropped way down. This is when I realized remote is where I needed to be.
Since grad school I’ve had two office jobs where I did most of my work finding a quiet corner like I did in school before finally going fully remote. As a remote employee I’ve been in fully-remote organizations, teams where I was the only remote person in the team or even the company and various hybrid arrangements in between. Even at my current job I was initially the only officially remote person on the team and, while I was happy for the most part, I always felt like the companies could better support their remote people.
The pandemic turned pretty much all the remaining problems with being remote around. Instead of being the only remote person on the team, suddenly everyone was remote and the company really invented to make the transition successful. It really felt like, at least as a remote employee, that the future of remote work was bright and things were finally coming together.
This year, however, I’m starting to wonder how bright the future really is for remote work in general. So many companies aren’t just going back on their promises but doing so in a hostile fashion and it, frankly, scares me. My own company hasn’t done this officially but we are seeing pressure to go to big events that simply aren’t safe and more and more people are going into the office anyway leaving the remote parts of some teams out of discussions.
I get remote isn’t for everyone. The fact is, however, that remote work has empowered so many of us to do our best work while greatly increasing our quality of life. Don’t take that away from us.