Two months ago, I started a new job at G2i that is fully remote. Here’s why I think working from home is incredible.
In my previous on-site desk jobs, I’ve often struggled with self care: I rarely had the chance to get enough sleep, and when I did, it was seldom stress-free. Morning meetings would ruin the night before, and location-sensitive events would interrupt the regular working day. The result? Less-than-happy Tejas.
On-site work in a nutshell
To put it succinctly, my experience working on-site looked a lot like this:
- Go to bed stressing out about waking up on time and making the morning standup
- Can’t sleep because I REALLY WANT TO FALL ASLEEP right now
- Wake up unrested, continue to stress out about being on time
- Get to the office on time to find out the morning meeting moved
- Ok, at least there’s free coffee ☕️
- Start coding
- Ah, it’s time for the (probably unneeded) meeting
- talk talk talk
- Okay where was I
- Start coding
- Oh it’s time for lunch
- Yes, back to work 💪🏾
- Ah, another meeting
- What?! It’s 4pm already?!
- Okay, time to code
- Oh. Planning meeting. Right.
- Hm. 6pm and I didn’t get as deep as I wanted to. 😕
- K home time
- want to gym but I’m tired
- hi wife how are you
- start stressing out about going to bed on time to wake up on time
I should say that this isn’t targeted to one specific employer or work environment. This is pretty much the pattern I’ve seen in most working environments that were bound to an office location.
Sure, there weren't planning meetings every day, and some days, I was able to get a satisfying amount of work done, but by and large, interruptions happened far more than I would have preferred and finding focus was often quite challenging.
Remote work in a nutshell
What does remote work look like? How does it compare? This is what I’ve experienced over the last 2 months:
- Wake up, all my coworkers are asleep.
- Make coffee just the way I like it at home. ☕️😌
- Focused, uninterrupted work because it’s like 4am where most of my coworkers are.
- OK things are green. ✅ Time to commit and push. 🚀
- Hm. It’s beautiful outside. Let’s go to the gym. 💪🏾🚴🏾♂️
- Ok, back to work.
- Focused, quality work time.
- Around 5pm, people have woken up and are working. It's time for meetings!
- Finish the day talking to people I appreciate after feeling like I contributed meaningful code.
- Encourage some of them to go about their day well.
- Go to bed satisfied.
To be clear, I find meetings good, especially pair programming and mentorship. I especially appreciate them because they bring us together and give us a shared sense of responsibility. What I find a little hard are spontaneous meetings: I've often worked in open offices and got summoned quite a lot either directly (hey there!) or indirectly (people talking and my ears following).
"Just get noise-cancelling headphones" doesn't help in this case because there are more environmental factors than auditory ones.
Remote work: the not-so-incredible parts
While it's been mostly positives, I've also struggled with remote work in some places. For example,
- hmmm I bet I can do this
- get focused
- get in the zone
- it's 3am?!
- wake up at noon
- struggle to sleep at 10pm or a more "reasonable" time
- lose sight of a normal lifestyle
- (unhealthy) weight gain
It all centers around losing some type of rhythm. It seems to me we have an internal clock that reeeeeally doesn't like to be disturbed. Kind of like how taking long flights wrecks us even though we don't do much but sit around on a plane ✈️ for 14 hours.
To combat this, I've resolved to wake up at 7am every day – no matter what. My routine for the past few days has been:
- wake up at 7am
- work out
- start work around 10am
- stop work around 7pm
- enjoy my evening
- go to bed and chill with netflix or something around 9pm
- fall asleep at 11pm
With this, my body seems to be happy and I get the benefits of regular daily exercise, while also meeting my work goals. This appears to be some type of golden ratio that I've found recently. Things are more or less pretty freaking great these days.
Do you have any other tips for me? Let me know!
It’s not binary
I must add — all of what I've said is speaking only of my experience (and my experience so far) with remote work. I have never worked a remote job before in my life and these are preliminary findings. I'm sure there's a lot more nuance to it that I have yet to discover.
I’m sure it’s not entirely binary, but a spectrum of tradeoffs, as are most things in life.
What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your perspective. Let me know on twitter.