My journey to becoming a remote worker

I have been working remotely since 2007. When I accepted that first work-from-home role, I didn’t expect it to be a lifestyle and was simply making a convenient choice:

  • My husband was already commuting over 40 miles one way for his job
  • We had a single car
  • We were raising my brother, who was about to start middle school

Working from home gave me the opportunity to be there when my brother got out of school and allowed us to avoid buying a second car. I got to be a homework helper and motivator and skip out on a commute: winning!

I left that role when my freelance web development work was taking off. Since I already had a functional home office, I didn’t see any benefit to letting an office or even joining a co-working space. And, then, when a client asked if I would join their team full-time, it was with the understanding that I would remain remote — their team was in Detroit and I was living in Baltimore. Again, a choice of convenience or practicality, but it was definitely this experience that made me realize I was actually committed to working remotely.

Like most remote workers, I was required to show up at the office on occasion—in this case, on a cadence of every 2-3 months. While I always enjoyed the face time with my team, I quickly realized how uncomfortable and unproductive most office spaces are. Meeting rooms, team lunches—all great! 👍🏻 Sitting in a cubicle or standing at a counter to code for hours on end—meh! 👎🏻

I realized that in my home office I had a far greater control over my focus and interruptions. In shared work spaces, even when wearing decent headphones, there’s the opportunity for a steady stream of distractions, especially in the dreaded open office floor plan.

When I started looking for my next role, I considered whether or not I wanted to limit myself to remote positions. As is usual for me, my consideration took the form factor of a pro/con list which quickly made me appreciate my remote life. In accounting for the time I saved not commuting and gained in spending more of my day with my husband, I finally accepted that I was all in, totally about that remote life.

Since that realization, I’ve made it a point to join teams that are already experienced with remote work and have invested in the tools to make remote workers successful. At Fractured Atlas, I used tools like Zoom, Slack and Mural for the first time professionally, all of which make remote collaboration significantly better. During my time on that team, the decision was made to transition the organization to fully virtual, which gave me the opportunity to share my decade-plus of experiences working from home in individual and group conversations and on the company blog.

At a time when more folks are working from home, as well as trying to figure out if they want to stick with this remote life, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on my experiences a bit. This is the first in a series of posts about working remotely. Later this week, I’ll share additional posts about:

As always, feel free to send comments to me via Twitter. I'd love to hear what questions you have about remote work or other areas of my experience that might be beneficial to write about.

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Written in Baltimore and tagged as:

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2 Comments

  1. Indoor Cat Indoor Cat

    Thanks for sharing! I'm about to become permanently remote, and am looking forward to figuring out how to work remotely while not in a pandemic.

  2. Maureen McElaney Maureen McElaney

    “If you've only worked remotely since March (2020), your experience has been 90% working through a pandemic* and 10% working remotely. *TBH, a series of crises”