True story: I once worked for a company that required me to get a doctor's note in order to use a yoga ball in lieu of a chair.
A doctor's note.
This is just one of the many nonsense issues that you never have to worry about when you work from home*. Let's explore it (and seven more!) a little further.
1. You have ultimate freedom to set up your workspace
I've seen it all when it comes to office policies, from companies that looked at you funny if you requested a more ergonomically friendly setup to companies that offered an ergonomic assessment free to each employee to companies that mandated what you could and couldn't have at/on/around your desk, down to the type of chair, whether or not you could have plants and who got to have a little table in his or her cubicle.
Not at a single one of these offices did I have a setup like I do now, though. I love it.
I have a standing desk with a tall stool I can sit on if I want to rest. I also have a balance board that I can hop on to take my standing to the next level, a plastic floor protector, an Echo Dot piping some music in the background and exactly what I want (and no more — and no less) on my desk surface.
This particular desk also has outlets on top of it — two standard U.S. plugs plus two USB ports. I found it online and because I figured I'd rather buy a tall stool than spend an extra couple hundred dollars on a desk that moves up and down (kinda fancy ... but really?), that's what I did. No note from my doctor required or anything.
I'm also exactly as wired (or not) as I want to be. I love my wireless mouse and keyboard — and the fact that they're rechargeable. (I have wired ones for when I run out of juice.)
There is nobody to complain about the sometimes questionable art on my bulletin board or the yoga mat in the corner, either.
2. You often have flexibility in your hours
This isn't true for any and every remote work position, but I believe it's true for many of them (because most of them involve either freelance work or workforces spread across large geographic areas).
I don't like working late into the day and feel at my best in the morning. One of the reasons I applied to a remote-work job in the first place was the opportunity to start and end my day earlier than "normal" for my time zone.
I can be at my desk by 7 a.m. my time — 9 a.m. Eastern and 6 a.m. Pacific — spend a full day at work with an hour for lunch just like any other normal working human, and be wrapped up (and home!) by 4 p.m.
However, if I decide I need to shift some of those hours around so I can meet another human for lunch or make an appointment, then that's almost never a problem.
(And it's never ever a problem when it comes to my theoretical ability to do it — ever worked for a company that wouldn't open its doors at all before or after certain hours? I have.)
3. If you have an internet connection — you can work
One of the most astonishing things to me about living in the year 2017 is the magic of the portable hotspot.
I can be sitting in the passenger seat of my car or on a train, in the park across the river from my house, on a crowded patio downtown or on a hiking trail in the mountains, and if I can get a cell phone signal for my hotspot, then for all you know I might as well be in my home office.
Portable hotspots are especially nice when traveling. Smart phones are amazing, but they can't do everything (yet) — I still need to use my laptop for quite a bit of my work. Being able to pull it out and connect to the internet while I'm in a taxi or at a conference with spotty wifi means that I can be a lot more productive.
(I use a Karma; I've had it for about 18 months and I like it, it is reliable and I find the data plans to be reasonably priced — but I'm not super up on the alternatives currently available, so there's my disclaimer. If you have a better hotspot, please tell me about it in the comments! Also, the company has no idea I'm writing this post, and I was not compensated in any way to mention it.)
You don't actually need a portable hotspot to take advantage of this benefit, of course — work at the library, work at a museum, work outside in general in parts of San Francisco (if you happen to live there). If there is internet and you can access it, the world is your work-from-wherever oyster.
(But the portable hotspot really turns it up to 11, in my opinion.)
4. You can pause for important things
I don't need to pay somebody to feed or walk my dogs, or to give my cats a little bit of a snuggle during the day. I can do that on my lunch break — and my puppy can sleep at my feet under my desk, which seems important to him but doesn't actually require me to pause!
My kid wanders into my office during the day (as previously noted) and wants to see me. Sit on my lap. Hug me. What-have-you.
He's only three and I am already feeling the breathtaking poignance of his newborn and toddler days. I'm so grateful that I am spending them in the same building as him so that I'll be a constant part of his early childhood memories — and make my own memories to pull out and weep over in 15 or so years, when he's plotting his flight from the nest.
5. Your days are largely meeting-free, and the meetings you do attend are important ones
When you are freelancing, this is almost a given — most companies don't want to pay you to attend an unnecessary meeting.
When you're working remotely, it's also almost a given — nobody wants to meet for no reason. Regular touch-bases and department meetings are more targeted, have streamlined agendas and end on time or early more often when some or all of your compatriots are working from home.
6. Reduced or eliminated traffic woes
I love and hate to drive.
I love to drive when I don't have to be anywhere at a particular time — and especially when the car has a stick shift, but that's really just a bonus.
I absolutely hate to drive when I do have to be somewhere at a particular time. A hundred thousand people moved to my state in the past year, according to some estimates, and the majority of them to the metro area. Traffic is not getting better where it was already bad — it's getting worse. (Am I right? I think I'm right.)
If there's decent music available and I'm not late, it's not a big deal. If there's no good music, I'm late — or both — then I am definitely not having a good time.
My traffic angst is basically gone now, and that's because I rarely drive. Want to re-experience that small thrill of excitement you felt when you were 16 and had just gotten your license and were about to embark on an adventure? Stop driving to and from work every day. It's miraculous.
7. You'll savor the outside world more fully
It's not like I never get out of my house — but it's admittedly pretty rare for me to leave my town. I can walk to the post office, the park or to grab a cup of (drip) coffee, but there's not a grocery store in town. There's not even a stop light. There's not even a stop sign on the highway.
So when I make plans to leave the bubble and meet someone or just venture out and about, it's exciting. It's different. It's not part of my everyday — and that is really awesome, so I'm not wishing it was, but it makes those meetings and catch-up sessions a treat instead of chore. Again, the novelty helps.
If you're also a remote worker and can think of any I missed (or want to offer some of your least favorite things up ... because you know that post is coming sooner or later), comment away!
8. You can be crazy productive
As I write this, the highway to and from my house is covered in snow and ice. Cars on the way to work this morning had to creep along for safety's sake.
I didn't lose any time battling traffic or the weather on the roads today, though.
And because I can structure my day and my environment exactly the way I like it, I have the ability to get quite a bit more done than I ever could in an office environment. Any office environment.
When someone questions the ability of a remote worker to stay on task, I just laugh. Sure, there are downsides (and I will no doubt be digging into those at some point in the future) — but I didn't want my office set up a certain way because I'm a special snowflake (well, not totally). I wanted it set up a certain way because I knew it would be conducive to me doing my best, most focused work.
And I didn't even need a doctor's note!
* To be clear: I personally define "work from home" to mean either that you are a remote worker with a full-time employer or that you are a with-it enough freelance writer/designer/what-have-you to support yourself. I was once asked by a Lyft driver whether "all those work-from-home gigs you see advertised are for real," and I have no response beyond "I don't think so...?"