The joys of working remotely

A few years ago, not too long after we met, Emanuele and I wrote together a list of things we wanted to achieve in life. Working remotely was on this list. Actually we wrote something like ‘having a location-independent job or business that allows us to travel often and spend time with our family’. We were getting tired of the Dublin daily routine: commuting to work in the cold and rainy Irish weather, sitting in a grey office all day long, having uninspiring canteen lunches. We were also growing frustrated with the limited amount of annual leave we were entitled to, and – consequently – the limited amount of time we could devote to visiting our families in Italy and Portugal, and to traveling for our leisure.

As we quit our jobs and traveled around the world, we met a bunch of people who were already working remotely and living a location-independent lifestyle. Meeting these folks and talking to them gave us a certain confidence that we could achieve location independence too – we just had to find a way.

Perhaps it was pure luck or life brought this to us because we wanted it so badly – or maybe we just have the best friends in the world (right Aga? 🙂 ), friends who trust us and don’t think twice before recommending our work to other people. The fact is that both of us are now working as virtual employees for an online TEFL courses provider.

I’m aware that virtual work is not for everyone. Although many people wish they had a location-independent job and lifestyle, many others find the idea of remote work strange or not so attractive.

At this stage of my life, I feel privileged that I can work from pretty much everywhere, and the idea of going back to an office makes me cringe.

Why? Well, here are a few reasons why I love telecommuting so much:

Being close to my family. For me it’s the best part of the job. I always need someone  to look after my son while I work, so it’s great to be able, whenever we want, to be based close to my parents in Portugal or Emanuele’s parents in Italy. When we’re not close to any of the families, then we usually hire a child minder, but in any case having Diego at hand all day long and being able to play with him on my breaks is priceless. Now that he is growing so fast, I don’t want to miss out on any of his evolutionary milestones. On another note, because Emanuele and I work together, we get to spend a lot of time together during the day, sometimes working on the same problems and helping each other with work related tasks when necessary or applicable.

Being close to the OTHER family too. As Emanuele and I are from different countries, this means that we will always be far from at least one of our families. We’ve just spent 4 months in Portugal and now we are back in Sicily. It’s good to be able to travel to both Italy and Portugal  with a one way ticket, without having to worry too much about the return date. In my previous job, the maximum time per year we would be able to spend in Portugal would be 2 weeks, if I was lucky. My mum is loving this job too as she can now see me more often and for longer 🙂

Being able to work from wherever we want. As long as we have wi-fi and our computers, we can bring our ‘office’ with us to wherever we like (even in the back-garden, as in the picture above 🙂 ). And the plan is to move this office around as much as we can, (of course we want to do that in a way that is compatible with Diego’s needs). In fact, we are constantly planning our next moves – stay tuned if you want to know our whereabouts in the coming months 🙂

No more commuting. When I was living in Dublin, taking a bus or driving to work was the worst and most stressful part of my day. It contributed to set my mood: by the time I was in the office I had a pessimistic outlook on everything 🙂  Now I get to enjoy every minute of the early morning. I cuddle with Diego in bed and have a nice, relaxed breakfast (I don’t have to rush anywhere!), so when I start working I’m usually in a good mood and approach work with a positive attitude.

Stay local, work global. Working remotely we are able to enjoy the best of both worlds: we work for a young, forward thinking foreign company, so we don’t have to cope with the backward Italian or Portuguese work culture, but in the meanwhile we can eat great Italian or Portuguese food and enjoy sunny weather and beaches for several months during the year. We’re also thinking of moving close to the equator or the southern hemisphere at the end of the year, to avoid winter weather altogether this year 🙂

I actually talk to my colleagues and have a laugh in our virtual office. I already knew some of my colleagues, but most of them I never met in person. Our virtual office is Skype, where we have group and individual chats. The type of interaction going on among us is similar to the one we would have in person: we tell jokes , have a laugh, share pictures and music and we get to know each other a bit better. Of course it’s not the same as going to the pub together to have a pint of Guinness (we go to the pub with our local friends though), but it is enough interaction to make our work day more enjoyable.

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I like to think that remote work is the future of many currently office based jobs – more and more companies will eventually realise that allowing people to work from home will save themselves money and will make most of their employees happier. And happy people at work tend to be more productive. With widespread virtual work we may also have less cars on our roads during rush hours, and this would be beneficial for the environment too.

If you have an office based job that could be done from home, would you like to become a telecommuter? Do you think that working remotely could be the thing for you?  I would love to hear your thoughts about it.