What do you think about working remotely vs working together with a team, say, at a head office? I live interstate from the company I work for and I work out of a co-working space — most often it’s just me.
I also travel a lot for work, and sometimes travel just for me, but work remotely.
It’s a great company I work for, they’re really cool about it, they’re very flexible with everyone, but I wonder sometimes if I’d be happier being more a part of the culture, as you would put it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out.
I love my life here, I have a partner and a home I love and a dog, and I wouldn’t change all that, but I also love my job, and I do feel like a bit of an outsider, compared to the rest of the team.
Any thoughts or words of wisdom?
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Dear Remotely Unsure,
As I write I’m sitting in a hotel room in Tokyo.
I spent the last six years working in a city I didn’t live in full time. The constant travel was exhausting, but I had to be (and liked being) with the team.
I found it hard to have two lives in two cities. I always felt like I was letting someone down. Either my family, or my team.
I do believe the very nature of work is changing, globalising, and the call for people to be able to work remotely is getting stronger and stronger.
I also believe in human connection, and the magic that comes from a collective of people gathered in the same space, collaborating.
That’s a lot of ‘I’ sentences.
It’s true the explosion of coworking spaces, not to mention the state of laptops these days, and Zoom, Trello, Slack, Dropbox, Google Docs… they all make it much more possible to work remotely, and companies are definitely changing their stances. Not only for remote working, but also just for working from home or at the park or a cafe. It’s all changing.
I think it’s changing not only because we can, but because we want to live full and rich lives of our choosing, not simply balancing work and life, but loving our work life and blurring the lines.
I’m glad you work with an organisation who are happy to work with you on this.
But that’s not what you’re feeling, is it? You’re feeling what I felt. You do miss out. On being there, being a part of it, properly. It’s hard not to. And that can be a bit isolating.
We get to choose, more than we think we do, Remotely. You get to choose to move. You get to choose, as you have so far, to stay. Remembering that it’s your choice is a big step toward contentment.
Re-choose, today. Right now. Think of all the things you like and don’t like about your current circumstances, and re-choose.
There are also things you can do to bridge the gap. Does your company work to a sprint cycle? Do they have a set rhythm? Are you prepared to travel, say, once a fortnight for a day or two to be part of that rhythm?
Can you set up an always-on video feed? Or Zoom in for daily standups. It’s not as good as the real thing, but you get to interact at least with the rest of the team. Yes, from the team’s perspective, sometimes it’s a pain to dial someone in on Zoom to a physical meeting. But it’s worth it, for that person’s inclusion.
Another thing I’ve recently tried is setting up a Whatsapp conversation for the team. As opposed to Slack, for instance, I found that communicating on our phones, rather than on the laptop, put us all in a more human, personal mindset, and we started communicating all the time, for connection and for fun, not just when we needed something.
Try all the things to create more of a connection. It’s on you. Everyone else has their own stuff going on, so don’t feel rejected or left out just because you have to drive the connection, that’s natural.
But in the end, just remember that you get to choose. It may not be an easy choice, but it’s yours to make!
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One of the most important things in business is to be human, and this is exactly what old-school advice column Dear Human aspires to encourage. If you have a question for Good Empire founder André Eikmeier, please email him at [email protected]