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Remote Work or Bust!

I might be weird.... but I've loved every job I've ever had.  I've been a towboat dispatcher, bartender, bed & breakfast manger, bookstore clerk, English teacher abroad, elementary school teacher in Florida, a small business owner, a small business consultant, and most recently a project manager at a university. My university job was amazing, and I'm still teaching a class or two for the school.  I've truly valued each one of these jobs, and always had a hard time moving on to the next step because I tend to really take the work personally wherever I am. I've often associated my identity with my work output, and took pride in working after hours or weekends to be proactively productive. 

Recently, however, we moved into an RV and everything changed. My priorities have notably shifted from "What's the next step in my career?" to "What's the next step in my life?"  I haven't always been able to clearly define the separation in these two questions, but recent events have made this more than easy.  I simply zoomed out.

When I zoomed out to gain perspective, I noted that I am truly the most content and happy when I am traveling out in nature. Working exact hours from 8am-5pm within cubicle walls is not conducive to this contentment.... so I changed it.  I needed freedom, which would only be possible with a remote position. 

Timing. How much of our lives is impacted by the random coin flip of timing? My partner Matthew and I were on a road trip through Texas with our RV and he selected a podcast for the ride. It was a discussion with two business owners who had a great idea and then actually followed through to make their great idea into a reality. Matthew and I looked at each other and both remarked how much we appreciated their ideas and supported their dream of getting an idea on paper into the App Store for public consumption in a very short time. We knew we had to reach out!  I put on my internet-stalking-sleuthing-hat (what can I say; it's a hobby!) and tracked down the phone number of the CEO in the podcast. Matthew had a conversation with Terry Broussard, and the two agreed that Terry and co-founder Sam would address our university business students about what it takes to bring an idea to market.

After their inspiring lecture to our students, I couldn't shake the fact that I wanted to be a part of what they were creating. Their app, Spot2nite, solved a problem I experienced as a traveler, and their solution was exactly what I would have designed if I had the idea first.... or any appreciable coding capabilities..... or startup funding..... okay.  So I could have never designed this solution. But I appreciated it, and knew I could bring value to the team.

The rest, as they say, is history. I am working full time as a digital content producer for a family-based organization I really believe in. The position allows me to help travelers while being creative every single day. It's what I never knew I always wanted! Mostly, though, it allows me the freedom to experience so much more than I ever could inside my cubicle. If human beings are lucky, we get eight or nine decades on the planet. Why spend them all in one spot? My dreams have come true; seeing every nook of the country while still doing meaningful work with amazing people. Terry and Sam might add up to be a unicorn situation-- they have given me the tools, resources, autonomy and creative freedom to do my best work.  The entire team is committed to not only a remarkable product, but also to each other.

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Remote work relies heavily on being connected, and we've pretty much got this dialed in. We currently run four internet hotspots through multiple providers, so we can use whichever network has the best coverage where we go. We invested in a home-internet pay-as-you-go solution that we use when our primary cell service is garbage... (I'm looking at you, Arley, Alabama!) We also have a wi-fi extender and a cell phone booster installed in our rig to amplify signal, and wi-fi that runs in the truck as a Hail Mary play if (when) all the other solutions fail.  

Sometimes I work from the RV from 8am-5pm.  Other times, I work between hikes and then from 8pm-midnight. I work when I can be the most productive, the most engaged, and the most free from distraction. I could argue that any organization would benefit from workers who feel the way I do-- encouraged, refreshed, and ready to be productive on terms that work for me. I am currently at the beach in New Jersey after visiting an amazing apple orchard yesterday and seeing Pearl Jam last night. Hamilton on Broadway is set for tomorrow, and then.... who knows???  This adventure and these experiences would never have been possible without the freedom remote work brings.  Writing these words make me once again so grateful for the opportunity that found me. Occasionally, I miss seeing team members in the break room at the office... but then I remember there's always Zoom or a coffee date, and when I audit my internal pro/con list of working remotely, there is no contest. 

There are so many opportunities to gain freedom if you simply start looking. A resource I'd highly recommend is Virtual Vocations, who matches your skills with remote work opportunities. Check into 'workamping' at parks across the country, where you work at the campground in exchange for free or reduced lodging rates. Finally, don't be afraid to ask the question at your current position... "Is there room for flexibility here?"  The answer might set you up for a quality of life increase.  Do you currently work remotely or have you considered remote work? What do you think-- is it what you dreamed it would be or do you miss your office camaraderie? Would love to hear your take in the comments below! 

Safe travels!

Emily

  


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