I never really know what to say when people ask me how I manage to make remoting work. The reality is, there are any number of ways it can be done. What works for me is a healthy obsession with riding waves.
Doing some napkin math with a friend, we figured I have spent about three hours actually standing up on a wave. That is seven years of surfing, two times a week, two hours in each session, and about ten seconds per session spent standing on a surfboard.
We (surfers) put in a lot of preparation around those ten seconds. Outside the two hours spent in the water, there is countless hours spent on transport, checking the forecast and preparing the gear. And mental surfing of course.
No one would surf if they were only in it for each 10-second-instance of joy. Ostensibly, there must be something else we get from the experience. It’s the only way of making sense of the lengths we go to for the perfect session.
The same logic must apply to working remotely.
Working remote means I can find best waves available. This is my core motivation. My theory is that a strong motivation is what makes remoting work. I’m not saying that you need to be a surf addict – the motivation can come from anywhere!
Remote work is often more challenging than being in the office. Overheads around communication mean you need to put in an extra effort to be available and be a part of all the important discussions.
The counter of this is that remote work can be extremely beneficial for certain types of work. Tech writing, research and programming happen to be very easy to do while not in the office. Because it is easier to communicate the wrong message when remote, a lot more effort goes into clarity of communication.
My inaugural remote office was the spare room of my flat in Hamilton. Raglan was a 45 minute drive. I was surfing in perfect conditions while the typical crowds were relegated to boardrooms and worksites. The perfectly consistent green waves of Indicators and Manu Bay were my second office.
Spending 8 hours a day alone in a home office can be isolating. Although it’s extremely rare to go more than 2 hours without pair programming or video-calling a colleague, it can be difficult not having someone in the room to share the experience. I had a lot more social energy with this change in routine. It created a new flow to the workday. At the end of the day I was always keen to meet a friend and use some social energy. This is something I struggle with when working in an office.
Indian Ocean perfection, arriving under an equatorial sun, breaking on a colourful reef drew me to spend two months working from South East Asia in 2016.
An iced coconut replaced morning coffee. I was surrounded by digital nomads. It is equal parts motivating and distracting being in the community. They have a lot of empathy for getting work done – it’s not uncommon to be up at 3am for client meetings. The people here play hard, but they work hard too. Everyone naturally understands that the key to this insane lifestyle is about keeping the work machine going.
So what makes it all work? A high level of motivation. The motivation can come from anywhere, but if you have that in place, and you can address surrounding issues, it is something that anyone can achieve.
Media Suite supports my surfing life. Extreme flexitime comes with higher standards of transparency and communication. Sometimes, this means compromises such as working nights, weekends and weird hours. Without delivering results, this level of freedom will not work. The team, client and your colleagues all need to be onboard with your plans.
The future of work is remote. It is good for the environment, it is good for people, it is good for your organisation.