This week, Justin chats about the power of flexibility as a remote worker, and some considerations to make about having such freedom.
00:00 Hello and welcome to Process, a podcast by Effective Remote Work. My name is Justin DiRose and today we’re talking about the power of flexibility. After a six week break. I am glad to be back and thank you for joining me again today on episode 25 of Process. Over the last six weeks, a lot has happened and I wanted to cue you in a little bit on what occurred. First, we have rebranded the Productivity Guild to Effective Remote Work. I’ve considered doing this change for the last six months or so. And ultimately what it came down to is I felt like the Guild had an opportunity to go a little bit deeper into a topic area where we could be of more service. I felt like since I’ve been a remote worker for the last seven years or so, that remote work and productivity and effectiveness in that area was a good place to land.
00:54 And so we’ve rebranded everything over to that brand name now. And you can find the community community.effectiveremotework.com and this podcast is now podcast.effectiveremotework.com too though all the old URLs should point to the new domain names and such. Additionally, I had the opportunity to guest on an episode of Tools They Use, the Keep Productive podcast by Francesco D’Alessio, to talk with him about a few different ways that we can mitigate loneliness as remote workers. I’ll have a link in the show notes for that, but I highly recommend that you take a listen to that podcast as we had some really good discussion about loneliness, and other remote work topics as well.
01:39 Now, one of the main reasons that I took a six week breaks because that my family was selling our house and working on moving. Well, some things changed in that process and we’ve officially sold our house, but I am in a state of limbo and waiting to buy a new one. And so as a result today, hopefully you haven’t heard anything crazy in the background, but, and hopefully you won’t throughout the recording of this podcast, but I’m actually sitting outside on the patio at my inlaws house in the middle of the backwoods of Minnesota and recording this podcast. So that is uh, one of the beauties of being a remote worker is that you can be extremely flexible on where and when you do your work, which is actually why this topic and the episode today is something that interested me to talk to you about and that’s the power of flexibility.
02:32 Truly, fully remote work is the most flexible way to have a job. Like I just mentioned, I’ve been in two different locations over the last couple of weeks and I have been able to continue working everywhere I’ve been because my job ultimately is remote and I’ve had the opportunity to prepare myself to work flexibly. Well, when I think about flexible remote work, I think of three main that work can be flexible. First location, this is where you work. Flexibility in location means that I can work from the patio at my inlaws. I can work from my office in my home, I can work from a coffee shop or if I really wanted to, I could pack up, fly overseas and start working from Thailand or France or wherever else in the world that I can find that has a good Internet connection.
03:29 Another way that you can be flexible with work is with time and that’s when you work. I typically try to keep an eight to five schedule for work, though over the last few weeks that has shifted quite a bit. Just due to different needs with having to handle trips to the bank and switching, housing locations and things like that. If you have a flexible schedule, you could work from two o’clock in the morning till nine o’clock and then sleep in the middle of the day and then start working again sometime later in the day. That’s another way that you can be flexible with the remote work job if the job allows it.
04:13 Another way that we’re can be flexible is via task and that’s what you work on. Some companies, especially the cutting edge ones, try to focus on implementing all three of these as places to be flexible for their employees.
04:26 Now granted, tasks tend to be the least flexible due to restrictions of knowledge and access for the roles that people tend to be in. Now you don’t have to have all three of these to embrace the power of flexibility, so take for example, if you’re working a corporate job and you have some flexibility in your location, you might be able to work from home. You might be able to jet to a coffee shop for a few hours in the afternoon just to get a different environment. you might just be able to go sit out on your deck or go to the lake and do some work or you might even be able to work from the road say if your family is traveling somewhere. Those are all amazing things as far as flexibility goes and a lot of people have access to be able to do that these days.
05:17 Now there are some the benefits to working flexibly and the big one is that you generally can work whenever, wherever. Like as I mentioned, it’s been an incredible benefit to me over the last few weeks with all the moving going on, errands I’ve had to run in regards to buying houses and things to be able to work wherever, whenever. I know that I would have had a lot harder of a time going through this process had I not been able to do those types of things. The other thing that I find amazing about having flexible work is that you can often build your schedule around your priorities versus building your priorities in around your work schedule. So over the next few months, I’m really going to work to try prioritizing exercise and health in my schedule and then because I have a flexible schedule with my time, I can start to develop my schedule around those priorities instead of trying to fit them in just wherever works because I have to be clocked in from eight o’clock in the morning to 5:00 PM at night.
06:27 The other huge benefit, and I think it’s just kind of a fun one, is that when you’re working remote, you can usually figure out a way just to fit all of your work stuff in a bag so that you can just, wherever you go work, when you need to. But with that, there be some downsides to having this much flexibility and freedom. If you can choose to work anywhere, that means you need to have good boundaries of where work is because otherwise, everywhere can be workplace. It can be the couch in the living room, it can be your bed, it can be time out at the movie theater with your friends. It can be at the dinner table with your family. If you have freedom to work whenever you want. Well, that means work can be any time that can be super early in the morning. That can be really late at night when maybe it’s a better time to spend time with your family or your spouse.
07:22 You need to have good boundaries when there’s this level of flexibility and so one thing that I have done is that I try to keep a pretty consistent work schedule between eight and 5:00 PM. This might look different for you, but as long as you can have those conversations with the people that are important to you to figure out when works best for everybody involved, you can really start to schedule some good things in your calendar and really start to live a more fulfilling and effective life for you because you have the flexibility. The other thing that gets really challenging with remote work when you have flexibility like this is that usually everybody else is pretty flexible too. And that often means that there’s nobody necessarily making sure that the work is getting done at a given time. Now there’s one idea and culture that exists in traditional corporate work is that if you’re butts in the chair, then you’re getting work done and then if a manager can see you, then you’re getting work done and there’s accountability there and all that sorts of stuff.
08:24 Well that’s not necessarily true for one. If you’ve worked in corporate work, you know there are people that get stuff done and you know there are people that don’t. But what happens when you give people this much freedom is that that attitude tends to come to the surface. And so if you have a job that is remote, you have to be the one to take responsibility to get your work done. You have to be the one to drive things forward for you and you ultimately to be the one to seek out help when you’re stuck and when you’re blocked. Because not every company has regular check in meetings. Sometimes you have to be the one to be proactive in order to move the things that are assigned to you and also important to you. Forward.
09:16 Remote work has the capability to be a huge, huge benefit to people in their lives, but there are considerations that you have to make in managing that kind of flexibility. Ultimately, there are strategies that will work for you and won’t work for others and vice versa. However, a few key principles such as setting good boundaries, having a good routine, making sure that you’re being proactive on the tasks and assignments that you have and communicating well. These things really enable the flexibility to be a powerhouse versus a detriment to people poor working remotely, especially if they’re working remotely for the first time.
10:03 Well, that’s all for this time. If you want to join in on the discussion for this episode or if you want to connect with other remote workers looking to grow in their effectiveness, head on over to the Effective Remote Work Community community.effectiveremotework.com. If Twitter’s your thing, you can find me @justindirose or you can find Effective Remote Work at @effectiveremote. And don’t forget to subscribe to the show podcast.effectiveremotework.com. Lastly, if you liked this show, rate us on iTunes or recommend us on Overcast. My name is Justin DiRose and join me next time on Process.