A few weeks ago, I wrote about what I consider to be the key components to a successful remote work environment. In this post, I tried to be open and honest about the ups and downs of remote work and how a home office set up may not be as easy or as ideal as it sounds.
Over the past year of remote work, I have learned a great deal about myself, my working style and my team. It has been an exciting, challenging journey. But I can tell you I am loving the remote work set up!
Today, I will share a few of the home office perks and how I take advantage of them.
Perk #1- Straight Casual
I’ll start with the biggest stereotype around remote work… working in our pajamas. While I admit that I have stooped to the “working in my pajamas” level on occasion, I try to keep sleepware for sleeping.
I do not, however, spend my days sitting at home, alone, in my former business casual wardrobe. Instead, I often don my favorite attire, a pair of athletic shorts/pants or jeans and a t-shirt.
For me, athletic clothes or jeans provide a great balance. I do not feel sloppy and “undressed” (as I would if I spent my days in pajamas), but I also don’t feel oddly out of place in my own home (as I would in my business clothes).
The athletic clothes or jeans allow me to feel comfortable and practical throughout my day. I can easily take my efficient coffee breaks (see below!) without the added time of changing my clothes or completing quick household tasks in clothes I would like to keep nice and clean.
Perk #2- My 30 Second Commute
If I were to tell you I missed my 75 minute (each way) commute on the CA-101 Freeway in stop-and-go traffic, would you believe me? Please say no, because you would likely also think I was insane!
My commute in California was a true grind. I hated it. Every morning, I would get up excited for work or for my projects, but dreading the time spent battling my way to and from work.
I listened to audiobooks from the library and free podcasts, called family and friends, took the time to pray… all of which helped to pass the time. But the entertainment or distractions did not take away from the fact that I spent nearly 2.5 hours in a car every day!
When AR Jr. joined us, the commute went from bad to worse. After a 12 week maternity leave, I loathed the fact that I had to feed AR Jr. at 6am, get up and dressed, kiss my sleeping baby, and leave before I had the chance to enjoy his coos or make faces at him until he burst into giggles.
At one point, I remember thinking, “If I leave my job, it won’t be because of the job (which I love!). It will be because of the commute.” What a depressing realization.
Compare that situation to my situation today. I wake up, help Mr. Adventure Rich make breakfast, pack lunches and get AR Jr up and ready. Then, either Mr. Adventure Rich takes AR Jr. to daycare or I take AR Jr. to his grandma for the day. From there, I enjoy a 30 second walk down our stairs and into my first floor office. It is glorious!
Perk #3- Efficient Coffee Breaks
On a typical day in the office, I would take short breaks to grab coffee (free from my employer of course!), go for a quick walk, or chat with a coworker. With the lack of coworkers in my home, I have revised my coffee breaks to become “efficient coffee breaks”.
One of my efficient coffee break tasks is our laundry. In my former office-working life, laundry would pile up for days until either the weekend hit or we were in desperate need of underwear and socks to survive!
Now, I can take a 5 minute break around 9:30 am to gather laundry and start the wash. At 11am (…or whenever I remember), I can switch the laundry to the dryer. From there, I typically do not have enough time to fold the laundry before the end of the work day, but this is a quick task at 5 or 5:15pm.
If laundry is not a necessary task of the day, you can place money on the fact that we will have at least a few dishes lingering on our counter, waiting to be scrubbed. We do not have an automatic dishwasher (unless you count AR Jr.’s attempt to wash dishes with semi-disastrous results!), so I can take 10-15 minutes once a day or at lunch time to slick up and leave our counters clear of dirty dishes.
I won’t pretend to say that I can get a solid workout within a 5-15 minute break. I can, however, take a quick walk to the mailbox (1/2 mile round trip) or complete 10 push-ups/squats/burpees/planks/whatever I feel like.
The quick exercise allows me to relieve some stress on tough days or wake myself up and re-energize my body during an afternoon lull. As noted above, I am typically in athletic ware and ready for action.
To be fair, I could go for a walk on occasion in my office setting… but trying to squeeze a few squats and pushups in during days at the office was a bit harder to manage logistically…
Perk #4- Flexibility within a 9-5
Similar to the Efficient Coffee Breaks hack, I find that working remotely allows me more flexibility within my “9-5”. I put 9-5 in quotes because I’ll admit, I rarely work strictly within the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. Instead, I use a flexible schedule, ensuring I can both manage the demands of both my work-life and my life-life.
As I mentioned above, my coffee break “quick exercises” don’t exactly qualify as a true, I’m-done-for-the-day workout. I am a very active, energetic person who does not do well if I sit still all day (I feel like crap!).
Typically, I complete some form of workout 5-6 days per week. I try to mix in running, HIIT/tabata training, strength training, biking and hiking… supplemented with yoga and walking.
How do I fit this in with a full-time work schedule, a family to spend time with and care for, and a house to co-manage with my husband? I approach my work day with flexibility.
At work, I have quite a bit of autonomy. I am in charge of projects, accountable to the leaders of several business divisions at my company and involved with several organization specific projects. But I am not bound to a 9-5 or any other specific timeframe. The expectation is to complete work in a timely and efficient manner, be proactive and find ways to improve our day-to-day, and to be flexible and accommodating with the internal business areas and vendors we work with.
In sum, my day could be a 9 am – 5 pm, an 8 am – 4 pm, a 7 am-11am followed by 1 pm – 5 pm… the possibilities are endless.
This schedule was harder to take advantage of when I worked in office. Sure, if I was on a 7 am call and needed to work until 5 or 6pm, I could take a break mid-day to go to a run or head to the local gym, but it was much less efficient and logistically hard (Where do I shower after a lunchtime run? Why take 1.5 hours out of my day to hit the local gym when half of that time was just getting to my car, driving to the gym across town, showering after a workout and getting back to the office?)
With a remote work schedule, I can take advantage of a “broken schedule”. There are days I will start working around 8 am, have meetings and work to complete between 8am and 12pm, then take a break from 12-1:30pm. During that break, I will go for a run or do a home workout with plenty of time to stretch and eat lunch. Then, I will get back on in time for my 1:30pm meeting, refreshed and ready to work from 1:30 to 5/6pm.
Typical work hours are 9am-5pm. Most doctor/dentist/lawyer/appointment visit hours are between 8am and 5pm. So how the heck does the working mom get herself, her husband AND her son to necessary health, wellness and business appointments?!?
The flex 9-5 helps me with this dilemma as well. I like to ask the appointment scheduler for the earliest or latest appointment in the day (8am-ish and 4pm-ish). I will block of my schedule for the time needed to drive to or from the appointment and for the appointment time itself and adjust my schedule in kind. 8:30am appointment? I will either work from 7-8am and continue 10am-5pm or I will work 10am-7pm. Problem solved!
Perk #5- Frugal Days
Working in an office can be expensive! Wardrobe, coffees, lunches, happy hours, commuter costs… the list goes on. While I was relatively frugal with my wardrobe (many second hand items and items I wore until threadbare), lunches (95% lunch from home), coffees (95% from home), the cost of working in an office still added up.
Today, I don’t really have the option to hit up the local bistro for lunch or grab a coffee for my morning commute. Sure, I drive 10 minutes to town for such luxuries, but I would have to do so with intention. Instead, I make and drink my coffee throughout the day (Ok… let’s be real. Mr. AR makes the coffee in the morning that I drink all day…), I eat leftovers or whip up a quick salad or sandwich, and I wear my awesome, durable athletic clothes to work!
Working Remote Ain’t Too Bad
All in all, my work remote situation is pretty awesome. Want to hear about the trickier aspects of working remote? A few of them pop up in my post here.
What is the most enticing “pro” of working remote for you? For those who work remote as well, what are your favorite remote work perks?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich