We spend a ridiculous amount of our lives commuting, working, and dealing with boring nuances in the traditional work setting.
Over the course of an entire year, Americans who spend 26 minutes (the national average) driving to and from work give up nine full days a year to their commute. Oof.
And for the past twenty years or so, it’s a major reason remote work has become more interesting and important to people. Who wants to wake up at 6 AM and rage through daily traffic five days a week? 😤
Naturally, working from home was a slow adoption for employers, who assumed that productivity would wane, and profits would drop, along with a million other excuses corporate leaders could come up with.
The growth of remote has risen, check out Google Trends since 2004:
But as technologies improved, internet speeds became lightning-fast, and forward-thinking leadership developed – more organizations gave remote work more attention.
Thankfully that happened because working remotely changed my life and my career for the better. Here’s how.
How Working Remotely Changed My Life
I started working remotely in freelance and consulting gigs around 2012 and made the jump to a full-time remote role in 2017. Since then I haven’t looked back!
And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy getting to be social and meeting up with our team members a few times a year, but I wouldn’t trade going back to the office for anything.
For those of you reading who may be just started working from home and are struggling to adapt, it’s okay!
Remote work is a big shift, especially if you have only ever been in the office throughout your career. It can be challenging and overwhelming, especially from 2020 to the present with the pandemic fueling more anxiety.
Or maybe you just don’t like working remotely, but you are curious to hear about stories from others (like me!) who absolutely LOVE it. Whatever your reason for landing on this post, I hope it provides some value for you.
For me, working from home has provided me with less stress. Now, there is no guarantee that you won’t face work stress occasionally (I still do), but overall I’ve found myself more relaxed in my personal life.
There are a lot of factors that I contribute this to:
- I don’t need to wake up incredibly early for any commute. Giving me more time to be well-rested and start my day without rushing through a morning routine. You don’t realize how this affects your mental and physical health over time.
- There are no stresses of driving through traffic, being late, or just dealing with other people who are angrily driving to reach their work destinations. I remember every morning at my first job, it was only a 7-mile drive to work, but I already started my day in a bad mood.
Better Physical Health
Once I found my remote work routine and prioritized some work breaks more throughout my day, my physical health improved as well. By working remotely, I’ve been able to schedule more intervals of exercise and not feel rushed.
Your company might have a gym on-premise, but not all do. And getting to the gym or your home gym can be the last thing you want to do after a long workday and commute.
Now with remote work, you can easily fall into the habit of always working and not taking a break. I’m guilty of this more often than I want to admit.
But once I created a routine and marked it into my work calendar, I was able to break that habit and start improving my physical health.
Whether that is just 15 minutes of stretching, going for a walk around the neighborhood, or hitting the weights – I can take these breaks more easily and steadily. And these workout breaks also help re-energize me for work and get some mental clarity if I was feeling a roadblock.
More Quality Time
I think one of the more important ways working remotely changed my life is by giving me back more time. We all know life is precious and things can change in an instant, which is why having as much time in your life for other things beyond work is crucial.
Remote work allows me to spend more time with my wife, family, friends and explore hobbies or travel more and get the most that life has to offer.
If your company is more flexible, it allows you to go grab lunch with a friend, or maybe a family member stops by your home during the day, etc. These little things in life can get lost when you don’t have the time until the weekend because in-office work is less flexible.
Did I mention before no office commute? You know, that thing that can waste days or months of your life away? Yeah, a big win here for remote work! Work-life balance is a major advantage.
Besides being a remote work advocate, I dedicated myself to becoming more financially savvy back in 2014. I wanted to be a smart saver and learn how to properly invest for my future. During that phase, it’s when I could see how remote work could benefit my pockets as well.
First, I’m saving money on driving.
No longer am I filling up my gas tank 2-3x per week or putting miles on my car because it increases maintenance costs. It might not seem like too much money at first, be extrapolating that over a month and year…yeah it may shock you.
Additionally, I spend less money on lunches and dinners.
Often when at work, I’d go to the cafeteria to buy lunch, go out to eat, or get snacks from the vending machines. Yup, there goes more money!
Now, I rarely go out for lunch and make the food we have at home. Groceries can be expensive, but the costs of going out to eat a few times a week are far greater.
Lastly, my salary increased dramatically.
Most remote companies should pay similarly to being in the office, but often many will also pay top of the market to find the best talent. No longer was I under $20 an hour anymore, as finding a quality company offering remote work options gave me an instant salary boost.
Certainly, growing in your career and picking good remote companies to work for will help you make more money. But companies that operate remotely or don’t have physical office locations save big bucks, which can funnel back to great salaries, benefits, perks, and bonuses.
Calculations from Global Workplace Analytics suggest that companies can save around $11,000 per employee per year if they allow their employees to work remotely just 50% of the time! That’s some serious cash pending how many employees a company has.
How Working Remotely Changed My Career
Working remotely changed my life, but it also greatly benefited my career and professional goals. Before I began my work-from-home journey, I had no clear direction in my career. I was frustrated and felt stuck in a dead-end job that wasn’t making me happy.
This isn’t to be a “boohoo” sob story, I let myself stay in that job for 4 years before taking action, so that was on me. However, getting remote work opportunities and discovering how it could help my career, gave me the push to step it up.
Here’s how working remotely changed my career for the better.
One of the biggest changes I noticed in my work was productivity. Once I was fully remote, my productivity and the results of my work drastically improved.
I thought I might be distracted still because you have Netflix, house chores, books, and the internet with no one watching you (unless your remote company has spying software!). But I found I wanted to prove myself more and I had fewer office distractions to keep me from getting things done.
No one dropping by your office or desk constantly, no phones or meetings surrounding you, no boss constantly on your back, etc. Just pure concentration is available to you. Of course, you may still have distractions from chat tools like Slack or your emails dinging non-stop, but those can be muted for deep work sessions.
Career Ladder Growth
When my productivity went up, the quality of my work went up and more people noticed.
Between being able to share my insights on social media and building my personal brand, to co-workers and company leaders noticing the results – I’ve been able to move my career forward.
This has led to getting on podcasts, being invited to speaking engagements, recruiters sending me other job opportunities I might be interested in, etc. But above all, being able to get promoted internally at my company and boost my salary.
Since 2014, I have tripled my salary while keeping my expenses relatively the same. This has allowed my wife and me to save money and buy our first home together during a crazy housing market in the northeast where we live.
While that all happened due to a combination of efforts, my career in a fully-remote position contributed to this. And now my past career goals are becoming a reality. No doubt hard work is important, but working remotely was the extra fuel to the fire.
I Like “Going to Work”
A big way remote work has helped my career is now I like “going” to work. And by “going” I mean walking from my bedroom to the home office.
My attitude is more positive and I’m generally always excited to get the day going and start my work. How happy are most people commuting to work daily?
Granted, having a company with a great culture, good people, and an awesome product or service helps because there are still plenty of terrible remote companies too. But I found working remotely has just made me care more and be happy about my career.
According to Career Vision, across America, only 45% of workers say they are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with their jobs and 33% believe they have reached a dead-end in their career.
Everyone deserves to be happy in their career and employer. For me, remote work was that path and it could be for you too.
Remote work doesn’t work well for everyone and nor are everyone’s experiences the same as mine.
But if you are brand new to working from home or looking to give it a try, give it a try and give it some time. You’ll learn what you like or dislike about working remotely and if it is something you can pursue full-time.
Fortunately, there are many great remote companies and remote jobs out there currently, the competition is less fierce. Back in 2014 when I was seriously looking, the remote jobs were more limited and it was so challenging to compete.
If you want to dive in even further, check out some of my favorite remote books and remote work podcasts.
Happy Remote Working!