This article originally appeared on MercerMind.
A year ago, I began working from home full-time.
I left my comfortable job as Marketing Director at a small agency after receiving an offer at a travel company. Transitioning from a buzzing office to a silent room in my house would be a challenge, but at that point in time, I was craving new experiences.
I knew that becoming a remote worker wouldn’t be easy. What I couldn’t predict was how, ultimately, working remotely changed my life.
A Bit of a Backstory
Before diving into this new world I’ve come to call a daily routine, you should know a bit about how I got there.
May 2016 changed my life forever. I purchased my first house with my husband and was embracing the change of location. That simple change made me realize that other aspects of my life could improve, as well. The first being my job. I wasn’t unhappy with my job, but I wasn’t happy either. I just was.
After coming to this unsettling realization, I sent off a few job applications. One, in particular, being a Web Copywriter for a company in the travel industry. A few hours later I received an inquiry from the company and set up an interview for a few weeks later.
During this time, my grandmother was in hospice care. We knew her time was fading and jetted to CT halfway through the month to see her for the last time.
She passed away in late May; the same week I was scheduled to have my interview. We knew it was coming, but it was still devastating. With my current state, interviewing was out of the question. I had to focus on my family. After contacting the company with the news, they were gracious enough to reschedule. I am thankful to this day that they did.
The interview came and went. I felt excited about the potential opportunity, but was still a bit sidetracked by everything going on in my family. Oh, and did I mention I was leaving for my delayed honeymoon in 3 days?
When the offer for the position came in, I was ecstatic. The night before we were set to jet off to Hawaii, I had a decision to make. Did I stay at a job with friends I loved and work that only left me feeling “meh”? Or, do I risk it all for this new opportunity to work remotely and experience new things? With everything going on in my life, was this the right time for yet another life change?
After a night of deliberating, I made my choice. It was now or never. I embraced the incoming change and from the bustling gate at the Nashville Airport, wrote the acceptance email that would have the biggest impact on my life thus far.
Transitioning from an Office to a Home Office
When friends, family, and coworkers found out I would be working remotely in my new position, I heard a slew of concerns:
“Man, I’d be SO bored working from home.”
“So, you’ll just work in your pajamas and watch Netflix all day. Great career choice.”
“Best of luck to you. I couldn’t do it.”
And the best one yet:
Your dog is going to annoy the crap out of you!
Thanks for the support, everyone. (Admittedly, I tend to work in athletic attire.)
Working from home does have its fair share of challenges:
- Lack of a social aspect (If you don’t get yourself out of the house)
- Long hours due to FOMO (If you don’t budget your time and effectively communicate with co-workers)
- The nagging desire to “do it later” and go take a nap (Back to that time budgeting thing)
As with any type of working environment, working remotely presents challenges. But challenges always have an accompanying solution. For me, that means going to a coffee shop when I need a change of scenery. It means always having my noise canceling headphones in when I need to tune everything out and write. It means making the extra effort to be social (is that really a bad thing?)
Transitioning to a home office is riddled with difficulty. But after a few weeks of trial and error attempting to find my groove, I found it’s exactly where I needed to be.
Working Remotely Improved My Writing
I’d be a blatant liar if I told you working from home turned me into an Ann Handley or a J.K. Rowling (still waiting, writing Gods.)
Yet, it has had a significant impact on my writing. Without the constant distractions of an office, I’ve been able to hone in on my writing flaws. Taking on a new style of writing also helped to pinpoint where I had gone wrong in the past.
From the comfort of my noise-cancelling headphones and empty house, I’ve been able to scrutinize my writing like never before. Previously, I’d be mid-edit and have a coworker bust through my door, demolishing any writing zen I had mentally entered. Or, I’d be attempting to get in the headspace necessary to write client copy and be constantly distracted by the happenings outside my office window. I’m looking at you, pesky woodpecker.
Now I know every writer is different. Some swear by the need for noise and commotion while others require the silence only solitary confinement and a straight jacket can provide. I’ve found my way of writing, and that happens to be remotely from my tiny little neighborhood.
Working Remotely Forced Me to Focus on Relationships
The hardest part of leaving my previous position was the thought of not seeing my friends daily. (Which isn’t a good reason to stay at a job you’re not happy at.) I knew working from home every day would make me go stir crazy, but I was most fearful of losing contact with those I considered my good friends.
This forced me to realize the importance of working on relationships. Working remotely forces me to reach out to friends to get together and check up on their lives. Some of the ways I stay connected with friends include:
- Getting coffee at our favorite shop (does this really surprise you?)
- Meeting to go walking/running regularly
- Having friends over for dinner
- Going to events together
While most human beings do this on a regular basis, working remotely makes you crave these experiences. As a result, you tend to prioritize them. From friends to family, I’ve been far more social this year than ever before.
Working Remotely Helped Me Explore Who I Really Am
When I was “Office Anne,” I was a robot.
Wake up. Get ready. Chug coffee. Commute. Chug more coffee. Work. Coffee. Work. Coffee. Work. Coffee. Commute home. Pass out. Repeat.
Doesn’t sound too ideal, does it? Aside from the guzzling coffee part, of course.
But the saddest part is, I didn’t realize I was doing that to myself. I still had friends, worked on great projects, wrote fantastic stuff, but I wasn’t me. That’s terrible, isn’t it? Even if I truly knew who I was, I didn’t have the ability to be that person.
By working from home, I now have the freedom to be myself and only myself. For instance, Office Anne wore nice casual office attire, but wasn’t comfortable. Remote Working Anne wears whatever I feel like (this ends up being athletic clothing more often than not.) Office Anne drank extraordinary amounts of caffeine. Remote Working Anne… still consumes far too much coffee.
The point is, I now have the opportunity to explore who I am as a human being. Turns out, I love to go outside, learn everything there is to know about the coffee industry, exercise regularly, and so much more.
Working Remotely Sparked My Sense of Wonder
I’ve traveled more in this past year than ever before—and love it. I knew I was interested in travel but never had the chance to do it with such a rigid schedule. Hell, I was even anxious about flying in an airplane. Working remotely changed my life by providing the flexibility I craved to go out and discover the world and my sense of wonder.
These past 12 months alone, I’ve traveled to:
- New York City
- St. Louis, MO
- Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN
- Pensacola, FL
- Roan Mountain, NC
- Oahu, HI
- Los Angeles
Disclaimer: I’ve been to some of these destinations before.
Next on the travel bucket list: anywhere I want.
Working Remotely Saved My Life (Really)
To provide context to this next section, I have a few autoimmune disorders. That’s all you need to know and all I’ll ever say about it.
When I was Office Anne, I didn’t have the time or energy to focus on remedying the symptoms and problems I was having. Sounds like a totally lame excuse, but those who’ve been in my shoes know what I’m talking about.
By working remotely, I now have the flexibility to monitor my energy levels, workout regularly, and receive the treatments I need. Oh, and catch up on the mass amounts of sleep I missed over the past few years. Seriously, turns out the cure for insomnia is an understanding, flexible job that you love.
Without going into the details, had I not taken this opportunity, I don’t even want to think about how I’d be feeling right now.
Working from Home Fueled My Coffee Addiction
Not that it needed any more fueling. I just have a world of coffee at my disposal now.
Remote Work Can Change Your Life Too
Working remotely changed my life for the better and I’m confident it can change yours too—in whatever way you need a change. To find remote job opportunities in your line of work, check out these resources:
If you’re still a remote working naysayer, consider these statistics:
- A study by PGI reported that 82% of telecommuters reported lower stress levels.
- Researchers at Penn State University found that those who worked from home gained an extra hour of sleep each week, resulting in more attentive and alert workers.
While working remotely isn’t for everyone and every industry, it has its benefits.
If you’re afraid to make the leap to working remotely, my advice to you is a la Shia LaBeouf. Just do it!