There are probably many different opinions that people have about those of us who work fully remote. In my case “fully remote” means “work from home” (as opposed to a coffee shop, a co-working space, etc). I thought it would be worth sharing my particular reality versus what you may think…or even what I thought before I started down this path.
I think the first thing I should share is…I would honestly never want to commute to an office again if I didn’t have to. So I may share what some perceive as the “downsides” to working from home, but for me the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. So back to the main question I’m trying to answer…“What do I do with all that extra free time that I don’t spend commuting?”
First off…more free time does not necessarily mean “more play time”. I should explain that I’m not a 20-something single guy living in an apartment. I don’t play video games until late in the night, eating pizza and drinking Mountain Dew :-) If that’s your reality, then probably this blog post really is of no interest to you. I’ve been married quite awhile by most people’s measures, have a “nice” mortgage, and plenty of hobbies and always “things to do” (i.e. chores) around the house.
So in my “extra free time” I help out around house quite a bit. And honestly, there have been times in the past (and maybe some times in the future) where I’ve thought about being disgruntled with that. But the reality is in our current home my wife spends at least 1.5 hours in the car on her daily commute (total round trip time, that is). Just imagine that each day she came home I had used that extra time only to “play”. At that point we could then start the inevitable process of cleaning the house, taking care of the dogs, emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, etc, etc, etc. Boy…does that sound fun.
Instead, I use a fair amount of my free time getting those little things done. I’m not perfect, and I’m sure I don’t do everything each day that I could do. However, my goal is that when my wife walks through the door that we can have dinner together and talk about our days…without having to think about many of those “impending obligations”. We both have jobs with a fair amount of responsibility and stress (with my wife having a “greater helping” in that area than I do), and ideally I try to create a more-or-less peaceful environment that she and I can relax in at the end of the work day.
Now, I will admit that my current company allows me considerable flexibility in the hours I work in a day. Of course, I always put in no less than 8 hours (and typically more), but they don’t have to be 8 continuous hours that start at some certain time in the morning. And so I often will pick the best time of the day to do some exercise…whether that be due to sunny weather, my energy level, whatever. I’ve been able to do a lot more bike riding and running than if I was forced by office hours and a commute to do that early in the morning every day. I LOVE that freedom. I think anyone reading this should understand that there are no doubt some companies that allow fully remote workers but for various reasons impose a set of standard working hours…and there are legitimate business reasons for doing so.
I guess the main point of this post is to take a little bit of the glamorization I hear from people occasionally about working from home. As a family, my wife and I both love the flexibility that I have, and that it can take a bit of stress out of “daily work routines” for us as a whole. It’s potentially some sacrifice on my part, I guess, but each night as we’re relaxing together I usually see how much it’s worth. I don’t know if working from home will last until the end of my career…but right now I hope it does.