Role: Virtual Operations Consultant and Remote Work Educator Location: Hartford, Connecticut, United States Connect: @laurel_farrer, laurelfarrer.com Remote Since: 2007
I take remote work to an extreme by living in an isolated log cabin in a rural town in New England, USA. I start my morning by catching up on my inbox at my walking workstation (desk added to my treadmill) for a couple of hours, then I move to my desk or dining table in a light-filled space where I can watch wildlife outside my windows.
Why I’m Remote Where I’m Remote
My husband and I both work from home, so we moved across the country to be in an area that was accessible to large cities (where many of our clients are located), had a weather pattern that we liked, and offered the quality of life that we were looking for for our young family.
My Thoughts on Pets
My flat-coated retriever, Wally, is never more than a few feet away from me while I’m working. Combined with the fact that my husband always works from home, I definitely don’t deal with remote worker isolation!
Schedule flexibility. Because I’m able to control when I work, I’m able to be more engaged with my family during personal time and more engaged with my teams during work time. Not only am I more able to balance work and life, I’m able to do better and be better in each.
What Challenges Do Remote Workers Face?
Imposter syndrome. Because my environment hasn’t changed, it’s hard to remember that my career has.
My Best Remote Work Advice
Remote work isn’t as easy and carefree as it is portrayed to be online and in media. It requires much more intention and self-management than anyone expects, especially the workers. In offices, experiences, opportunities, and communication are all organic. In a virtual work environment, those all have to be carefully designed. The support, accountability, motivation, and accessibility that one gets in a colocated environment is suddenly 100% their responsibility. So, it is crucial for any virtual worker to acknowledge that remote work is different and to get equipped with the tools, habits, and strategies that are unique to this lifestyle.
When I’m Not Working
Even after working remotely for 12 years, burnout is the battle that I still have to fight on a regular basis. I love my work, so my passion for it combined with 24 hour access to my “office,” my hard work ethic, and my tendency for perfectionism is kind of a recipe for disaster. It’s not uncommon for me to bury myself so deeply in a project that I skip meals and sleep for several days in a row. And I’m not alone in this! The average remote worker workers longer hours than their in-office counterparts. (Source) To stay balanced, I have to enforce strict time blocking rules and office hours, completely unplug during personal time, and clearly articulate KPIs to maintain my work-life balance.