I got my first remote job when I was working at my first job out of college. I worked as a marketing coordinator for a law firm and the firm was in some financial trouble. I wasn't sure about the future of my employment and half the firm split off to form a new one. I was really good friends with one of the lawyers splitting off and agreed to help them with their marketing as a freelancer.
Soon, the tensions at my firm reached a head and turned in my notice for not receiving a paycheck one pay period. I called up my lawyer friend and told him what happened and we came to an agreement for me to work for his new firm part-time. The caveat was that because I was quitting my job with no full-time prospects, I had to make the hard decision to move back in with my parents so I would have to work remotely as they lived 3 hours away.
My lawyer friend agreed to allow me to work remotely part-time, which allowed me to pursue other passions during the other half of my day. I worked for that firm remotely for 2 years before I found another full-time position which forced me back into commuting and living in an apartment.
I remember how blessed I felt that my lawyer friend had put so much trust in me to work remotely, and I didn't take it lightly. I created a routine for myself and got up every morning as if I had to commute and it allowed me to really create my ideal work environment. I remember feeling more productive, self-reliant, and excited about work than ever before.
I typically work Monday-Friday and the hours are flexible to a point but I like to give myself the most amount of hours with my co-workers as possible as they're on Eastern Standard Time and I'm currently located in Mountain Standard Time.
I'm usually at work by 6:30 or 7am and leave around 3:00 or 3:30pm. Since I wake up at 5am every morning, it gives me time in the morning to work on my blog or write before I jump into the work day.
I like to take several walks with our dogs throughout the day to get of the RV and remind myself of my blessings and to enjoy the view!
Right now, we are located about 7 miles south of the Grand Teton National Park. So when I walk out of my RV, I can see the beautiful mountains.
It's a funny/random story actually. My partner and I were working full-time at commute jobs and living in an apartment that we were dumping half our paychecks into.
We knew we wanted out of the apartment and to move but we weren't sure where or what our next steps should be. Should we get a house? Move out of state? We always talked about being near mountains so we loved Colorado. But we didn't feel at peace with the thought of moving across the country where we knew nobody and had no family close around. If we needed to come home in an emergency situation, it would've been a hassle.
In early 2016, I had recently landed my current remote full-time position. One night, my partner came home from work and said, "What if we moved into an RV? Then we could go stay with your parents or mine for as long as we want and then drive to the mountains for as long as we want to stay."
Thinking about this gave us both a sense of peace and so we started researching how we could accomplish this and how I could work from the road. At first, I was very stressed out and anxious! What if my Internet isn't reliable in remote locations? What if I need to fly to HQ, would there be an airport close by? What about our mail and filing taxes?
Lucky for us, thousands of couples before us had already gone through this process and wrote blogs and participated in Facebook groups. We learned a lot from the full-time RVer community which made us feel less stressed out and alone. The process was hard at first because we had to downsize our 800 sq. ft. apartment to fit our belongings into less than 200 sq. ft. of space.
I sold all my furniture, we gave our old clothes and other things to Goodwill, and the stuff we absolutely wanted to keep we stored at our parents' houses. We had to completely change our relationship to our possessions but it was the first step towards building the lifestyle we wanted to create so it got a lot easier the more we did it.
But there were definitely times where we thought we were crazy for pursuing this lifestyle and we had some talks with concerned friends and family members. Ultimately, we knew we were drawn to this lifestyle and felt peace about it so we soldiered on.
My partner's mother agreed to manage our mail for us and still sends it to us monthly (mostly junk because we switch to paperless billing for everything). When it came to Internet, Cherie and Chris of RV Mobile Internet were my saving grace. They published an entire book on how to access Internet on the road. I purchased a Verizon mobile hotspot with an unlimited data plan along with a cellular booster and I was in business. Works like a charm!
After establishing how I would work, it eased my mind much more because without my remote job, none of this would've been possible.
We've been able to see all of the western United States in a year—all because I have a remote job.
That's why I'm such a huge advocate of remote work: I've been able to have life experiences I might've never had and I believe it's made me a more well-rounded individual.
For someone who wants to do the same, I think the first step is establishing a way to make income. Whether that's a full-time remote job (like I have), freelancing, workamping (working for an RV park that you stay at for income+rent for the site), or running an online business.
Start researching how other couples got their start (there are hundreds of blogs for full-time RVers!) and join a few Facebook groups. The full-time RVing community is very friendly and helpful to newbies. You should also start to consider your relationship to stuff.
My partner and I still manage to accumulate stuff we don't need and have to re-evaluate our belongings every few months because we literally don't have the space! Simplifying our lives and our mindset to value people and experiences over things has completely changed our lives and I don't see us settling down in a house any time soon!
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I think one of the biggest challenges of working remotely from an RV is that my Internet connectivity is limited to Verizon's coverage map (unless the park WiFi happens to be amazing... spoiler alert: they typically aren't the best because everyone is on them and streaming Netflix).
So if there is a location that we want to travel to, but it's not in Verizon's coverage map, then we can't visit unless it's over a weekend when I'm not working. This limits where we can stay in the RV for months at a time.
The other limiting factor to where we can travel is having an airport nearby so that I can take business trips throughout the year. As you may know, a lot of the really beautiful remote locations also happen to have zero Internet connection and are miles away from civilization.
On the other hand, working out of our rig is truly amazing. Right now, I have all the blinds open and at any point in time if I need to take a short break and stretch my legs, nature is not too far away. For me personally, it balances my extremely connected life (digital marketing, techie, video game nerd) to live a lifestyle that encourages me to disconnect. I feel more balanced now than I ever have living a stationary life.
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I do! Our travel trailer has 3 slides and one of them is a super slide which is what our dining room table sits on and it's what I use to work from.
However, I am on the hunt for an adjustable sit/stand desk. I typically work in the RV but there have been times where we needed to be on the road during a work day, in which case, I would work from the truck.
If it's a nice day, sometimes I'll take my laptop outside and work from the picnic table at our site, and if we're visiting family, then I work wherever they have space for me! I've never felt the need to try co-working spaces or coffee shops.
The non-profit I work for is not fully remote but we do utilize distributed teams besides for myself.
At my first remote job, I was the only one that worked remotely which was difficult. I found that it was hard to develop trust and relationships with my co-workers.
At my current job, because some of my co-workers do work remotely, it's much better because I can commiserate with them. It's much easier to nurture relationships with co-workers that are at HQ because I'm not the only remote worker at the company. I think because we all work hard to stay in touch via Zoom conferences, yearly retreats, and Google Hangouts that our particular organization has acclimated quite well being a hybrid team. Though there is always room for improvement!
For me personally, I try to schedule my time around when my team is working so that we have the most amount of time for collaboration possible. This is more productive for us as a team and I get off work earlier. Win win!
However, I've heard arguments on both sides of the spectrum.
Employees at HQ assume that remote workers do whatever they want whenever they want. Employees that work remotely believe they work hard and longer and are more productive because they aren't interrupted by the "water cooler talks" that frequently happen in an office.
This is why we need to break these myths so that businesses large and small can embrace distributed teams!
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Our organization uses Google apps for nearly everything which is really great for hybrid teams working together on projects.
For my personal task management, I use Smartsheet because it allows for sharing with my team as well as logic for notifications and alerts.
I use a Chrome extension called Humble Tab that shows me all of my bookmarks organized each time I open a new tab. It's super helpful when I need to get to other websites quickly.
Every morning, Bing Desktop is the first app to start and it changes my wallpaper daily to a random beautiful location. Before I even dive into work, it reminds me of why I love working remotely because I can travel to that very location! Momentum for Chrome is great too: it serves up new photos and motivational quotes when I open a new tab. It also has integrations with task management apps and more.
I've researched and used so many methods for productivity - Kanban, Pomodoro, GTD - you name it, I've probably tried it. But I'm always open to new methods for getting things done.
I tend to be a creature of habit lately and do easier/admin work in the morning to ease into my day as I typically have meetings in the morning. Then I save deep work for afternoons when HQ is winding down and emails slow down.
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The thing I love most about remote work is the sense of entrepreneurial spirit behind it.
While I have what some may consider a traditional "9-5" where I do need to show up every day even though I'm remote, there is an underlying sense of self-discipline and self-motivation that you have to develop in order to be a successful remote employee.
I've learned a lot about my own work habits whether I'm building my own business or working for someone else and I think this is largely due to my experience working remotely.
Of course, the big plus of remote work is the flexibility to work when I know I'm most productive which allows me to not only get more work done, but to be able to achieve a work/life balance like I've never had.
I'll admit that remote work is not for everyone.
There is a social/psychological aspect that takes a certain amount of self-awareness to overcome (e.g. not being able to interact face-to-face with your co-workers on a daily basis).
I tend to work better independently and don't have trouble communicating my personality over an email or text. This helps stave off the loneliness/distance that some feel when they work remotely.
Some people believe that you aren't able to advance your career if you work remotely because it's harder to maintain a presence with stakeholders that would have a direct affect on your ability to get a promotion or a raise.
But I'm living proof that it IS possible! I think it depends on a number of factors like the culture at the office as it relates to remote employees, what tools are in place to maintain contact, and whether there are regularly scheduled video conferences or retreats.
I have managed to advance at my current remote job because I worked hard to stay in front of people I work with as well as the fact that I'm not the only remote employee at the organization. Leadership at my organization has embraced a hybrid team to get more done and as a result, put in place certain procedures and culture that supports everyone involved.
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At RemoteHabits we're always trying to improve our interviews, what question should we have asked Sarah Daily?
Sarah is the founder of The Daily Remote, a blog helping people land remote work so they can pursue a life of location independence.
She works remotely full-time for a non-profit organization and travels the United States in an RV with her partner and two dogs. You can follower her on Twitter (@thedailyremote) and check out thedailyremote.com to learn more.
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