Looking way back into my marketing career, I remember my first encounter with ‘remote work’ when I started as an entry-level digital marketer at a commercial real estate firm nearly 15 years ago. One of the members of our small, four-person marketing team worked from home full time, a notion at the time back in 2005 that was pretty rare in corporate America. At 23 and early in my career, I recall being baffled by a few things:
How and why did she get hired full time — why would a company agree to that?
Did she actually work all day — and who was there to ‘make sure’ her work got done?
Fast forward 1.5 decades later, I’ve now worked remotely for four years and have been vehemently building my completely remote team of 15+ for the last two. The remote work lifestyle is something I’ve become really passionate about — I’ll talk fast and loud and with my hands when telling you how it’s changed my life. You know when I get my hands involved, I mean business. And with my hands in the air, I will tell you that I refuse to ever, ever work full time in an office again. Being forced to be inside the same building every day for eight hours, with cubicles and few windows, is soul-sucking, awful work. And no work environment boasting free lunches, game rooms, shoeless offices, weekly happy hours, competitive salaries or “unlimited” vacation policy is going to change my mind again.
As my passion for building a remote team has grown, it’s exciting for me to slowly see the remote work lifestyle become a lot more mainstream each year. Every week I run into a new perspective or research into why the eight-hour workday doesn’t work anymore, how the 9-5 is dead, and the proven benefits to working remotely.
It’s no longer a question of “why would a company agree to that” or “who is making sure they work?” Now it’s becoming a question of, “why isn’t everyone working remotely?” Working remote makes employees more balanced, happy, engaged and productive. A dozen+ recent studies will tell you that, let’s just look at a few of the recent results that Forbes shared:
Productivity — Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.
Performance — With stronger autonomy via location independence, workers produce results with 40% fewer quality defects.
Engagement — Higher productivity and performance combine to create stronger engagement, or in other words, 41% lower absenteeism.
Retention — 54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility, which results in an average of 12% turnover reduction after a remote work agreement is offered.
Profitability — Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter, or 21% higher profitability.
I’ve seen all of the above happen in my personal experience — once I got the hang of working fully remote and created a structure around what that looked like for me, I became a lot more productive and engaged with my work. And now, at First Page, I run a remote company that has little overhead (increasing profits) and where most of our remote experts have been around for 2-3 years (retention). Our work also speaks for itself when year after year, our clients are happy with their results and not only renew their contracts, but grow (sometimes doubling) their contracts. Personally, I’ve also experienced:
More freedom to move around the world, travel, see friends and family and be where I want to be, when I want to be there. Whether that’s for festivals, births, birthdays, weddings, holidays or just because. In the past two years, I’ve visited 4+ different countries every year on “vacations” and spend a minimum of 2-3 weeks when visiting a new country and ~4 months of my year away from home. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but for an adventurous soul — there is nothing that compares. Never again will two weeks of vacation a year be acceptable to me.
More autonomy to deal with life’s logistics, surprises, and upsets. When I’m sick, I’m home as long as it takes to get better quickly. When I need to stop at the post office, schedule a doctor appointment, leave my vehicle at the mechanic, schedule a networking lunch, go to the chiropractor, get my toenails painted — whatever the little tiny things that I want to do for myself or to manage my life, I have time and space to make ALL of that work. Never again will one week of sick pay or trying to work that all in before 9 am and after 6 pm be acceptable to me.
More balance and time to do all of the things outside of work that make me a happy, fulfilled human being. I have found a schedule that works for me, and that’s generally around 4 hours of solid, focused work (plus or minus a few work phone calls) and then space to do everything else. Since working remotely, I’ve more than doubled the number of books I read a year (from ~20 to ~45); I’ve painted and ‘created’ more; I’ve launched a nonprofit to give back to my community; I’ve taken up a new hobby — sailing; I’m never sitting in traffic or commuting; I’ve become the poster child for #selfcare; and I’m more healthy than I ever was in an office — I have the time to make fitness work in my day, every day; and I’ve stuck to a focused, morning routine that includes a couple of hours of reading, yoga, meditation, breathwork and journaling. Oh, and I’m more tan. But this might only be because I’ve chosen my “remote work” home base as Belize (results won’t be the same if you work remotely in middle America ;). Never again will 40-hour work weeks and a solid 8-hours of workdays work for me.
More relaxed state of being — all of the above (more freedom, autonomy, balance and time) just makes me a calmer, less “tightly wound” human that isn’t playing into the culture of busy or stretching myself too thin around the eight hours I need to be in the office. I have more time for me. More time to slow my roll. More time to just be. Never again will a stressed out, busy, overworked version of myself be okay.
I am strong in my conviction that this is the only way I can work from here on out. I am strong in the conviction that this is the only “office life” of the future. And I’m strong in my conviction that I want everyone to experience the freedom of the remote work lifestyle. These three things have become pillars to my career — I have built my entire company around them so that I can give the #havelaptopwilltravellife to those who work for me. But this year, I’ve also decided to periodically share my journey to building the best remote company I know how to build. That’s why we’ve now launched a #remotework blog at First Page. I have a ton to share that I’ve hacked my way through in the past four years — from the best tools I’ve found to manage a remote team and the ways we interject fun and culture into our remote company, to reviews of books like “Remote: Office Not Required” and the mistakes I’ve made in hiring remote employees.
You can follow us on Instagram @firstpagestrategy to keep up to date on the latest #remotework blog or see photos of our travels around the world as we work remote.