“Back to office” sentences are coming up more and more frequently. Some companies that initially declared their remote-first policies are now changing their minds. They keep claiming that people need to have contact in real life, that office attendance makes them more productive, and that remote work causes increased isolation and loneliness.

I, myself come across online forums where people share that working from home is great, but meeting people is equally important. Of course, I agree with the statement as a principle. However, these individuals share that going to the office motivates them to get dressed, move around or simply…leave the house. Needless to say, I can’t stop wondering about the ignorance among such a broad group of employers and employees who still confuse remote work with pandemic work from home.

Remote work is location independent

The definition of remote work is that work isn’t tailored to one, particular location. It’s actually location independent work. This can be working from home, a coworking space, hotel, café or balcony. The decision is yours. Of course, I’m far from claiming that working from the beach is an ideal remote work location or that opening a laptop in a crowded subway is wise. It’s not. The workplace, no matter where and what it is, should be good enough and comfortable to work from. As a matter of fact – I am writing this article while sitting on a plane. I don’t feel distracted, my back doesn’t hurt and I’m excited to have this piece published right after I land!

If there’s one positive outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic then it’s the breakup with traditional, outdated working patterns that used to connect the notion of “work” with a physical location. This originated during the rise of the industrial era when factories were growing, clocking in and out marked work attendance, and relocating from rural areas to cities was the only change to have a “career”.

One hundred years ago, nobody could even imagine that one day the digital era would revolutionize the constantly growing service industry.

Now what many companies are starting to introduce is hybrid work. A concept that is supposed to be a win-win solution between employers who were building office-first work management processes, and employees who don’t see any reason in commuting since their daily work tasks are digital-first anyway. Consequently, both parties agree to some office attendance and a few days working from home. This is sometimes called a “remote work policy” which isn’t fully true as it’s directly tailored to two physical locations – the office and the employee’s home.


The freedom to design a unique working experience

Let me share my own example. I have worked with remote and hybrid (before they were even called this way!) companies since 2015. I don’t feel isolated, lonely or disconnected from teammates. Quite on the contrary. Thanks to location independent work, I have designed a working schedule that fits my lifestyle, needs and preferences. I tend to work from home, local cafes, coworking spaces or hotels when I travel. When I meet with colleagues then it’s always intentional. It’s either a workshop, social event or brainstorming session. Nobody needs to be convinced to appear in person as it’s an experience and it adds value.

A hot topic these days are workations. The word combines “work” and “vacation” and the goal is to continue working from a holiday destination without having to officially take time off. This is an excellent opportunity to stay somewhere longer after an actual holiday break. Why should people look forward to several vacation days per year if they can simply choose to be flexible and work from places that make them feel great and productive? You can read more about designing workation policies here.

At the same time I know that not everyone wants to travel all the time or be a digital nomad. That’s fine. Remote work can be designed in a unique way locally. Simply choose days or hours when you work from home and change your location to be around people if you need it. Take breaks during the day and walk in a local park, go to the gym, join different like-minded communities. Maybe it’s about time to develop a hobby that you never had time for? Or maybe you want to spend more time with your family? The good news is… it’s all up to you.

We’re no longer limited to building social connections at work. Colleagues don’t have to be our only friends due to a lack of private life.

What’s in it for you?

Making remote work work requires a personal strategy and a little bit of effort. It’s all about asking yourself a few questions that nobody would have taken into account in the past. These are “What’s your working preference?”, “What do you struggle with during the day?”, “What do you need to be successful?”. The office-first approach, that the whole world knows so well, puts everyone into one basket. THIS is the way it’s done and you’re supposed to follow the rules. It’s a one-size fits all approach that was never subject to any questions. Today, times have changed and the world of work is slowly becoming more and more human-centric.

So… how can you start making flexible working work for yourself? Just sit down, take a pen and paper, and start designing your workday, week or even month. What are your priorities? What are your goals? When do you feel most productive? In the beginning, it can seem a bit challenging to bring this to life but don’t give up. You’ll thank me one day.



One Comment

  1. […] years have gone by. You’re already part of the one size fits all system. If you studied hard and you had a little bit of luck, you now have a decent job that allows you to […]

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