Remote work for everyone?! What we stand to gain

Well I haven’t applied for those tickets as my gf still doesn’t exist in Belgium officially.

@jasen_lakic your post really resonated with me. That you need movement in mind, body, spirit. As a remote worker and knowledge worker, the focus can be on your brain power and exercising that only. I find I need to think holistically, in total. Stretching it all!

Since the (horror) experience of confinement here in Spain, I find I have to leave the apartment to concentrate fully and be focused. I need my coworking space to provide me with that support. So grateful for it!

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Same here: after the hard weeks in March/April I had already resumed work outside the house and it made a whole lot of a difference.

Just realised: I actually have 3 de facto co-working spaces I am using

  • the Edgeryders office 1 day/week
  • a foodlab and shared food production space with shared office 2-3 days/ week
  • an office in a green businesses building 1/2 day a week

The rest of the time is spent also in the PC, but on trains :slight_smile:
All in all, it’s good because different places have different dynamics and energies, and help you focus on the specific project you are working on in the moment…

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Yes, during the confinement period here in Belgium I realised my most creative moment of the day was my walk.

I would take my notebook and a pen, walk for half an hour into the nearby forest, sit there for an hour or so just enjoying in it, directing my mind towards important matters and writing down ideas flowing in.

Once I would get home, I would go through it all, refine it, expand it and try to implement it where relevant/possible.

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My husband now goes for walks for some of his conference calls. Just today we have been experimenting on how to make his microphone more windproof.

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I thought that I might as well contribute some experiences, given that I’m a remote worker since forever … except for about 80 days of work as a truck driver, which is also remote but in a different sense …

I noticed that most contributors in this topic (with the exception of @rebecca) seem to advise for setting clear boundaries between work and non-work, between professional and private life, even including the choice of location. Such as:

That is surprising, as I have the the opposite in my own remote work philosophy, and am quite sure I’ll not change that aspect. It’s called “full work-life integration” in my mind, and really means that: I have no concept of “after hours” or “weekend” since I started self-employment in 2008, but I do have concepts of freedoms and flexibility that I use to mix work and non-work in my days. I usually mix in too much work, but to me that’s a separate issue from “is it advisable to mix”.

I’ll quickly explain how (I think) it works for me … maybe it provides some inspirations:

  • I want the freedom to switch between on-the-job activities and other activities at a moment’s notice, and use that a lot. For mental wellbeing, I need the space to think, to follow ideas and inspirations during the day, to take two hours off and research about a new cool invention that popped up in my mind. The idea that an employer would force me into an office building and then force me to deal with on-the-job things for eight hours straight is horror to me, and a reason why I never took up such a job and instead became self-employed.

  • Me and two of my brothers (also remote digital workers) are the only people I know who like using a time tracking software to make the split between work and non-work at the push of a button. (We even all use the same time tracking tool called tom-ui, written by one of my brothers.) So while certainly unusual and perhaps due to genetics, for us it definitely helps: no need to feel bad when taking time off “at work” or working during my freetime, as designating time as work or not is just a click of a button, with the natural consequence of being paid for worktime and not paid for other time.

  • For claiming and using the mental freedom to work when you want and not work when you don’t want, it definitely helps to be self-employed rather than being an employee. As an employee, it’s natural to feel under pressure to answer immediately etc. to keep up a good impression among so-called “superiors”, while as a self-employed person working among peers (or as a teamleader) the concern is rather with getting the project done in an efficient and enjoyable manner. And a need to answer immediately may just indicate a legacy culture of synchronous communication while remote work profits more from asynchronous, parallelized workstreams (at least according to my manual).

I hope that nobody working with us here in Edgeryders feels pressurized to perform well in a system that “we” (whoever that is) have set up; in that mindset, it’s natural to try to get away from work as far as possible in your hard-earned freetime. What I like to see is when people instead step up to improve the processes that make their work at Edgeryders tedious or boring or something that stresses them out when they have to touch it in their freetime. Haven’t seen that too much in Edgeryders, but was happy to see that @amelia started such an initiative just a few days ago.

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This resonates very much with me, with the difference that I always worked to do things in efficient and enjoyable way. I realised very early I will not really be happy working 9-17 for somebody else so my only desire was to learn while there and do a good job. I didn’t care about good impressions or anything like that.

Well my mind is almost always working in a way, I guess because it’s for my own projects. I really enjoy working on them so I don’t consider it work. I also pressure myself unknowingly…that’s why I need reminders on the wall I guess :laughing:

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Thank you Matt, an original perspective as always.
I have to say, I’ve always looked up to you and @alberto for being such ‘conscious workers’, for the lack of a better term: autonomous, but also in complete control of your responsibilities and likes.
But for many of us who are not wired that way, it’s harder to integrate work and relaxation in the same way. Even when we are as passionate about the work as maybe you are, in some cases. Even when we, or I, are also self-employed!
My brain can’t simply relax for two hours in between the paid tasks. Which means I have yet to discover how to take a walk in the middle of the day to relax, enjoy it, and then come back and enjoy the remaning of the work day. Perhaps it has to do with neuroticism, I don’t know… or managing my energy well.
But you two really shine in this, so thanks for providing the inspiration.

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Wonderful to hear all these different perspectives and ways of maintaining personal preferences, alongside fostering healthy work-life-balance. It is so individual. And starts with self-awareness on what you need.
But note - magic can happen when you understand each others preferences and personal contexts across the ER virtual team i.e. that @noemi might need to break in the middle of the day and that @jasen_lakic likes some reminders to break (I use post-its by the way for this) …

I work with remote teams (mainly employer based) and many with more traditional company structure, and more formal contracts and terms. One of the exercises teams can do is record “personal communications preferences” via team charters in interactive workshops. During these sessions people have the opportunity to share their preferences and most importantly, others hear them, and begin to respect and care for them. Supporting each other in healthy habits and behaviours, as part of the overall team culture. You are doing that naturally on here. Well done :slight_smile:

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I agree, word for word.

Maybe I should explain that I used to earn my living a rock musician. In that trade, it is completely evident that the maker is the product: people buy not only into the music you make, but into your cultural project, even your persona as an artist. The worker is the work.

So, my activity would consist of apparently random stuff. Daydream at the piano; read Latin American crime novels; listen to other people’s music; do my tax returns; shop for surplus Eastern Germany military clothing, for a long time my signature look onstage an off; build the band’s website (late 1990s). Occasionally an idea for a new song would come out. Occasionally that became a full-fledged song, which occasionally would later be recorded, released and performed live.

Good luck finding a notion of “productivity” in this.

Instead, what made sense to me is this: my life is a kind of project. The project changes over time, but there is always a project. I use the project to interact with the world, meet people, fall in love, make friends and sometimes enemies. Everything I do is part of this; some activities are monetized, others are not. I don’t care, as long as the project is going well and I am not starving (which would make the project go very badly indeed).

Productivity is not a major concern for me, and I only track my time if I have to or if I suspect I am doing things wrong. My concern, instead, is integration and coherence: I resent activities that are not advancing me on my project. This is where my aversion to bureaucracy and management techniques comes from.

Of course, remote work is a great match for this. Like Matt says, when you are pursuing a fairly broad life project, you need a lot of freedom in mapping it onto a whole range of idiosyncratic activities, some of which will result in false starts, etc.
Most of these buildup activities are best done alone, on your own time. If you try to do them in group, you are going to spend most of your time waiting for others. This was very clear in music. For a band of 6-7 people to rehearse together a 4 minutes song, you would normally need 10 or more minutes, between coordinating to start, giving each other feedback, toilet breaks etc. This work is still necessary, but it will flow best if people have already learned how to play their parts at home.

Conclusion: I like to work remotely, with high-energy, highly coordinated in-person sprints every now and then. And the money comes from whatever direction. It’s worked well enough so far, and this amount of freedom would be very hard to give up.

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For me it depends on what kind of work. With bodywork, definitely yes. With anything else - that’s my idea of a nightmare :grimacing: :grimacing: :grimacing:

During the brief stint where I was giving pilates classes I was working out, or working other people out, hours and hours everyday. When not working - I was learning about anatomy, cooking, etc. But it did not feel like work because…I was high all the time. Not as in weed high - high on endorphins and very very relaxed.

The confinement was a double disaster in this sense. And more remote work means more of the same by definition - unless ofcourse you are running outdoors with great connectivity wherever you are and fancy equipment that filters out all noise and dynamically switches your mic on and off bases on reading from movement and heart rate sensors so no one can tell when you are sprinting or whatever. Also, no video, so people don’t see you sweating.

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Yes that’s how I do it too.

All the online tools make work very efficient - but from time to time you need just to talk in order to connect and feel good…

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May be this is from the past. There is much more flexibility today even if you are employed - this is my personal experience.

What I prefer is like part-time employment and part time self-employed. That’s a nice mix.

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I actually like that idea! An office environment that allows to move around outdoors instead of forcing a sedentary lifestyle indoors is certainly a more healthy and happy environment and an important part of any discussion of a future Internet. (So I added it to my list of ideas for a sustainable IT event.)

After a little while, it would even be acceptable that people appear in video calls while running, hiking in the woods or flying their jetsuit:

(I selected this clip because it shows how the video setup for a video conference on the go can be done. Basically the person wears a helmet camera on a stick, and because the camera is looking along the stick it’s easy to keep that stick more or less invisible. You see the stick from a side view a few seconds into the clip.)

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Ofcourse you did :)))

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“um sorry, I have to go right now, there’s a tiger hungrily eyeing my leg…” " What? Yes, literally a tiger""… Because I’m trying to explain that the farmer needs to remove the second layer of parchment from the beans. There is no way we are going to manually remove parchment from 300kgs of coffee beans this time".

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Love this, very unique perspective on things too :slight_smile:

JETPACK!! :rainbow:

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I pursue “a fairly broad life project” but I’m interested in so many things that it has always been beneficial for me to “go to work” so I stay focused. Also I became a parent at a pretty young age which came with a lot of responsibilities that required steady income. So despite the extreme communal living and free-spirited philosophy, I was a reliable guy who showed up for work every day for decades.

As a young worker I liked being around more experienced people. Later as I assumed greater responsibility and became the boss, things went better when I was physically present. Relationships improved and the work went more smoothly.

These past few years with all of you have been the first as a remote team member other than a few odd consulting gigs over the years.

So at my sort of advanced age I have been in pretty new territory with work-life balance. And it is a challenge sometimes to force myself to stay focused on some work thing while surrounded at home with all the other things that interest me. Being 9 hours behind everyone is good for me in the sense that it kind of forces me to focus on work projects early in the day.

The pandemic has not bothered me as a worker so much as it otherwise should because remote is the dominant way I have already been operating. Plus of course using online tools as primary communication methods is a well developed habit. I do appreciate the way many of our meetings are scheduled so they don’t require me to attend in the middle of the night. I worked for a Finnish company years ago that made no such allowances. That made for some wacky scheduling for me.

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This report just came out, and no wonder that an important focus when it comes to teleworking effects is wellbeing and work life balance, especially for women:

https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/de/publications/report/2020/living-working-and-covid-19