On Monday, I will start a new job as a remote software engineer at Articulate. My only remote working experience to date was in grad school, where my research sponsor organization was around 50 miles from campus. I commuted in every Friday, and spent the rest of my time working remotely. It was a mixed bag - I set my own hours, but I was a grad student. I had no sense of boundaries. I was on an island - the other 2,000 people in the organization were all on-site. I didn't really know what I was getting into, and I had no support structures in place.
The circumstances now are dramatically different then back then. Articulate has been a fully remote organization since day 1. I've gotten much better at setting boundaries around work. I think I'm going into it eyes open, but I want to document my hopes and expectations about remote life going into it.
At my past job as a rocket scientist, I worked 9-10 hour days, spent half an hour commuting, and frequently worked through lunch, grazing on goldfish or free meeting food. Stress was high, I spent half my time in meetings. Work had its thumb on the scale of work-life balance. I never went to the gym: before work was way too early for me, during work would leave me sweaty and gross, and after work I was always drained.
I'm hoping this changes. In grad school, I went to the gym almost every day in the early afternoon, cooked healthy lunches, and still got tons of work done. I'm expecting to be able to walk the dog in the morning and afternoon, to eat homemade lunches most days, and to go to the gym in the early afternoon like I used to.
I'm so excited to be freed from the open floor plan nightmare, to be freed from a tetris calendar of meetings, and to be freed from drop-in idle chit-chat. Getting back long blocks of uninterrupted time to just do work and get things done - how could it not be more productive, even factoring in the increased difficulty of collaboration?
I haven't been with family for Thanksgiving since moving to Seattle. Traveling around Thanksgiving is expensive and stressful and PTO balances are never quite high enough. It always comes down to Christmas vs Thanksgiving, and Christmas always wins. If I just pad out my stay and work from my parents' house a few days before or after, then I might be able to strike the balance of getting home for holidays without missing huge blocks of work or having nightmare travel situations.
No more company-issue computer, desk, chair, lighting, and decor. I've instead been supplied with my choice of computer equipment, and I get the freedom to design my home office however I like. I can open the windows and hang out with the dog, all with a fifteen second commute.
I failed at this in grad school. I did some of my best work after midnight or on the weekends. It burnt me out. I'm hoping to take a much more rigid approach this time around. Our house is small, so I'm expecting my home office space to already be dual-use with my personal computer. I'm planning to just set up an entire second desk, chair, and computer in the office for work. One desk for play, one desk for work. After a good day's work, the work setup gets turned off, and that's that. It won't quite be wholly separate offices, but it's as close as I can do - I hope it's enough.