At age 18, I moved to the big city to go to University. In my field, Social Communications, I was doomed to stay in that same city if I ever wanted to grow in my career. The eclectic, outgoing, and world-hungry Catalina was thrilled about that possibility in her first years of adulthood: I was curious about everything.
That same personality led me to travel the world as a cruise ship photographer. The world was immense, and I had time and energy to explore every bit of it.
Becoming a Digital Nomad has gained good press in the past few years. Countries are creating new visas, cities are evolving or revolving around that concept, and groups of expats work from coffee shops and surf beaches. As a woman who left Uruguay with a bag and a camera on my shoulder, I celebrate the possibility of every person who wants to travel, explore, and still be able to have a professional career.
Yes, that is one of the reasons why I support remote work: technology has advanced enough to make us all feel part of the same team, regardless of whether we are working from an office in the city or a wake bar on some remote island (with good Internet). Of course, not all fields take this path, but I started this article by stating that due to my studies in communication, I was doomed to stay in a big city. How far we’ve gone in not such a long time.
But I’m not only in favor of those who want to roam the world.
Remote work also states that if I, now a grown woman of 36 years of age, want to go back to my hometown and live a quiet personal life, I can do so without missing my professional advancements. And I believe that is gold.
Living the Freedom
My parents, like everyone else in past generations, decided where they would live according to where their job was. Not family, not loved ones, but work. And personal life had to fit into the agreement we had with the company we were under contract with.
A few years ago, when the older generations were ganging up against Millennials, one of the things they were criticizing us for was that we had no loyalty for our places of work, we were always ready to quit, our bags were always packed for a new plane ride, and that meant we were not reliable.
Let me be extremely personal here. When I came back to Uruguay after four years of working on ships and then owning a photography studio in London, no one in my country was willing to trust that I’d be able to stay put in a chair in an office, commuting the same road to work every single day. And to be honest, that sole idea kills my neurons. It took such an immense effort and energy to adapt to such an old-fashioned way of work instead of using that power to do what I do best: to create, that it threw me back years in my professional development.
Millennials were between the wall and the sword, and we chose freedom. Then, we created workspaces where people didn’t have to choose anymore.
Owning the Freedom
One thing is freedom, and another thing is debauchery.
There are only a few jobs that today allow us to work remotely, and they require skills and hours of learning. I’d assume that if we’re in a field that allows us to work from anywhere in the world, we like what we do.
And yes, I mentioned working from a surf bar before. The key word in that sentence is “work.”
A mentor I had used to tell me that for her, getting dressed for work and commuting to her office was the way she had to get her head around the workspace, and then once she was back home, whatever happened at the office would stay away. Personally, I’m not like that. I know her way it’s healthier, but I think it’s like a Yoda level of proficiency that I’ve not yet reached. I love my work, and wherever I go, Sud Creative goes with me.
Working remotely doesn’t mean we have to stay in a dark room with neon lights and become antisocial. In the same way that sharing an office with the same group of people every day won’t make them friends.
To me, working remotely means that we can have the chance to choose. And choosing is for those who can hit deadlines with excellence.
Caring for Your Freedom
Of course, we’re working, not traveling, that’s why the keyword on “working from a surf bar is ‘work.’” And that involves a series of aspects that can’t be left aside when choosing this over the traditional office space.
Physical proximity is not as important as being there for your team. But being present is key when working from anywhere. Attend meetings, share opinions, and add a little extra of your own experience.
If a team member can’t be present as a team, then it becomes a hard task to improve team performance.
To be fair, the same happens if we have a person attending to an office every day, but they aren’t interactive.
Delivering excellent quality work on time
Hitting deadlines with quality is how we will be measured. A company needs excellence when delivering work, and a marketing agency like Sud Creative needs to show its clients that they can trust us. If we can’t trust our teammates to do their best –and that best will be up to standards– then we have a major problem.
Adjusting timezones and overpassing jetlag
It’s all fun and games until you have to work night shifts to match your official company time.
At Sud Creative, we work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Uruguay time. If you want to travel to Australia, please do so and send pics, but your shift will start at midnight.
Some companies adjust, and they prefer just to have work or tasks delivered. We are a team-oriented company, and that means we meet regularly and we depend on each other.
Finding your way to “commute to work”
Yes, working from home with the sleepers sounds so cozy… until you realize you haven’t changed the pajamas for the past three days.
Although the reports say that remote work improves productivity, if we don’t find a way to do it, then we find a very thin line between working from home and not performing because we are at home.
Changing our pajamas is at the top of the list. Preparing lunch before time should be high on that list, too. And this is very personal, but something that really helps me is getting dressed and leaving the house to work on a new space (on my defense, I used to do this when working for companies with office spaces; new places fill me with ideas).
Choose your Freedom
No, working remotely is not for everybody. And that’s PERFECT. The world needs options.
I feel this is the right way of working for the life that I want. It doesn’t mean that I will coerce people into thinking like I do. On the contrary. I celebrate that this is a valid option for us, the curious and adventurous, to be able to grow professionally without losing on what makes us feel alive.
In the past few years, HR departments and Coaches have gone wild, claiming us, the workforce, to find “work-life balance”. I’ve already stated that I love my job and that it goes wherever I go: my work is a big and important part of my life. But those are not two different items. Life is and should always be bigger than work
So, that balance people are looking for is impossible. What they have to find is a way back to their own lives without work taking most of it. The way that I found that was, for example, with the decision of choosing where I want to live.