This blog is Part I in a series in which I discuss my experiences with working remotely and general stats on working from home. Here’s why I asked to work remotely at my past job.
I worked at a computer.
I was a writer and SEO specialist at a marketing agency. I managed client websites. In order to do my job, I needed a computer and an internet connection.
Of course, I collaborated with coworkers frequently, but I certainly could get through an entire day — let alone weeks at a time — by communicating via email, online chat, etc.
The in-office distractions were unreal.
The office work environment made it extremely difficult to focus. One coworker estimated that each person in our department wrote an entire novel each month. If you’re going to enforce coming into work, you would hope the environment encourages the concentration that our department needed to get the job done.
Instead, the environment was the complete opposite. Every time someone made a sale or accomplished something, TV screens would light up across the office and in-ceiling speakers would blast music. Understandably, this would be a distraction for anyone. On an average day, this would happen maybe 30 times. Towards the end of the month, I’d guess at least 50. In fact, our CEO said he wanted the screen to “light up nonstop” as evidence to making sales.
Considering it takes about 25 minutes to get back to work after a distraction, it made this job tougher than it should have been.
These distractions led to stress.
Imagine writing a 10-page paper for your job, every single day. Imagine getting distracted at least 30 times a day and trying to refocus.
For me, I handled it for the first year. After that, it slowly became more and more of a grind, my refocusing stamina waning.
I think everyone underestimated how physically taxing this was. I, along with countless others, developed stomach problems. People had regular tension headaches. Friends dealt with neck and back pain.
When you’re expected to produce at a demanding rate and struggle to do so within the confines of the work environment, you’re basically doubling your efforts to stay afloat. This takes a significant toll, both physically and mentally.
Instead, imagine writing that 10-page paper for your job every day, but you’re at home. Or at a coffee shop, or at the library. It’s quiet, it’s easy to focus, and you can cut out the distractions.
Pay < cost of living.
After taxes, I made just under $45k at this company. In many cities, this would be a reasonable salary.
In Fort Collins, a city where you’re lucky if you spend under $12,000 a year on rent, it wasn’t great. Add on car payments, student loans, bills, and groceries, and you can quickly see that it was tough to get financially ahead. We had benefits, but they weren’t great, and I dealt with a number of medical issues while working there. Out-of-pocket expenses were so bad that I had to ask my parents for help.
My lease was ending in June (2019), my boyfriend had moved to a small town in Wyoming, and if I moved up by him, I would cut my rent in half — for a much bigger space, at that. I would have gladly continued working at the agency if I could work from home. I would save tons of money. I decided to ask to work remotely.
Stay tuned for Part Two: The Stats.