When I just got into digital nomadism, I had a great opportunity to start working remotely for the first time ever. This included living abroad and checking in with my team once in a while. Here’s more about this experience!
You can read more about the benefits of working remotely but in this post, I’m going to review the truth about my experience as a remote worker.
Although it was a very pleasurable experience since I had the option to travel and live abroad while having a steady income, it came with its own harsh reality. And if you’re considering taking on a remote position, make sure to prepare yourself!
The truth about working remotely
It’s not all black or white, like anything in our lives. To back up a bit – the company I was working for is relatively small and there are only 2 on-spot workers (as in, the boss and the manager), therefore most of the decisions were made together, with some friendly conversation.
Your personal feelings as a remote worker might differ depending on the position, how well the communication with you is established, how big is the company, etc.
I was working as a social media manager and graphic designer. When working on the spot, I was also a PR manager so it always felt important to be a part of everything that’s happening.
Here are just some of the realities I experienced along the way:
1. I felt misinformed
The thing is – their lives didn’t change. And just when I was moving abroad, the art studio where I was working was preparing for an exhibition.
Let me be honest with you – that’s a hell lot of work! For me, as well as for them.
Besides that – they were preparing to move into their new space for courses. And literally had no time to communicate with me about everything that’s been happening.
Therefore a lot of information came to me without all the necessary details.
It was just a task after task, without the background story of who will need this, who’ll be seeing it, what exactly is being sold, what is the current feedback, what details would need improvements, etc.
For me, as “public speaker” in this office, it was really important to know reasons why something is happening, so I can build up communication with our clients. But instead that, I was getting a lack of useful information and actual stories about things. They’re crucial for my job and I feel way too much left out without all that.
What is the solution? I was trying to boost up our e-mail communication, asking them questions that might not be relevant to the topic, but is important for me anyway, increase the rate of our communication (and decrease one for unanswered e-mails). Another way to go would be Skype meetings.
2. I missed seeing their real-time reactions and honest opinions
It doesn’t matter – am I coming up with a new idea, giving some solutions for an existing problem or informing them about my feedback, I used to talk with them about all these things in the meetings and I loved seeing their reactions right away without even hearing a word from them.
Something made them thoughtful, other things – bored or excited, it depends. Now I didn’t know what they’re really thinking and pretty often receive “ok” as an answer.
It didn’t boost my motivation at all and therefore I don’t feel like it’s actually worth doing, although in many cases – it could’ve been!
What is the solution? Video chats might be it, but they won’t replace being in one room with my colleagues since I’m talking here not only about facial expressions but also about postures and body language. To be honest – I don’t think there is any solution for this. Good thing – I knew my colleagues good enough to be, at least, able to guess what they’re actually thinking. Is this the best solution? Definitely not. But what else could I do!
3. I have the freedom to schedule my daily work as I please
I was kind of a remote worker before leaving as well. I was able to come and go as I pleased, work from home or from the office, it didn’t matter.
But once I left the country, I didn’t have any other options than stay where I am to do the tasks.
And that’s when I felt the real freedom of working remotely – a chance to schedule my own days, work later in the night or early, before anyone’s up. I used to work on weekends and take Mondays off or do it another way around.
Along with traveling, it’s really a great option to have.
4. I missed the office community
Yes, this is something I missed from my office life.
I had an option to chat and brainstorm about the most random things with them, something I wouldn’t have talked about with my friends or family. Hearing different perspective and creating new ideas – that’s the fun part of an easy0going office life! Since I’m extrovert, being around people is something I’ve always appreciated.
What is the solution? I was trying to get my dose of brainstorm-y chatting with my boyfriend who’s (lucky me!) working as a freelancer as well. Besides that, there’s always an option to meet up with some friends or create new ones (like in coworking spaces, for example).
5. I felt independent
This is the “gray” zone of all these pros and cons. Why so? Because I can’t really say whether this is good or bad.
I felt independent in many ways: I made my own decisions since very often there wasn’t time to communicate with my colleagues, I worked on my own schedule and did things my way, but on the other hand… it felt like I’m not a part of the company anymore. Does this sound silly? I bet it does!
But sometimes I do feel like that only single person on “couples-only” party. You’re kind of fine, but not really. You’re kind of a part of all that, but after all… not really.
Well, you know what I mean! (Or you’ve been super lucky and you don’t!).
6. It was hard to get organized and keep focused
This might be my biggest conclusion from all this time.
It was hard for me to get them do something I needed them to do and it’s hard for them to get me to do something they needed me to do (if that’s a matter of time, and usually – it is).
I definitely suggest taking on a remote position if you’ve been offered one. It’s a nice change to try out! I’m sure that companies with more established remote-work culture would give a lot easier experience. At the same time, you always should be prepared for some challenges this will add to your life!