Working at my current company provided a first for me. I’ve always been in jobs where I had direct communication with the owner or CEO by way of simply walking down the hallway and peering my head into their office. Now? For many months at a time, our CEO and most of the leadership run the company from 10 time zones away.
My job now consists of working alongside just two other people in a small office, with the option of working from home from time to time. We communicate with our founder/CEO via Skype, online chat, and email, but it’s a different feel than the traditional offices I’ve grown used to over the years.
This is what working in 2015 feels like. And, frankly, it’s fantastic. We’re global, we move fast, and we celebrate our wins all the way around the world. The company is headquartered in Ankara, Turkey, while support team members, maintenance developers, widget builders, and marketers are spread around the world, from El Salvador to Wisconsin to Thailand.
I have a completely new appreciation for remote work after working here for the past year. While there are a few drawbacks, it’s been a pretty incredible experience.
Here are a few of the pros and cons for this type of workplace:
The cross-cultural nature of working for a company spread across the world. One of the coolest parts of working for a global team is seeing how people work and live in other parts of the world. Our team loves taking pictures wherever they are, and it always makes me feel like the planet is a little more connected somehow. It’s almost like taking a class in another country’s culture, only you get paid for it.
One of JotForm’s employees sits atop a cliff near his home in Thailand
The feeling that people are using your company’s product on every end of the globe. Even though our marketing team set up camp in the United States, it’s been pretty cool seeing where our users come from. We actually found out recently that we have 1.2 million users in Europe alone. Companies spread all across the map are bound to have users who do the same.
Working remotely in England allows this JotForm employee to catch the occasional football match.
Added flexibility. It’s never been easier to work on the go. We use our small office most of the time, and it’s nice to have in-person collaboration sessions, but doing work on the road or at home is incredibly easy with the tools at our disposal. It’s also considerably less stressful to travel knowing I have the ability to work from anywhere. I’ve taken the opportunity to work on many trips I’ve taken, from high school reunion visits in Ohio to beach vacations in Maui. Working while on a trip is still far less stressful than not knowing what’s piling up while you’re away from your desk.
The casual working environment. Most of Silicon Valley enjoys a relatively casual working environment compared to the rest of the country. Working as a part of a small remote team makes it even more so. I haven’t completely started skipping showers (yet), but wearing the same t-shirt multiple times in a week isn’t going to draw too many questions.
You never really get away from work in the same way. I remember being excited the first time I worked from home. But then my apartment just felt like an office and less like a home, which I guess is the point. I saw less sunshine, breathed less fresh air, and didn’t see a single person until my girlfriend finally came home from work that day. On the plus side, if there’s a reason I need to be closer to home during a weekday (dentist’s appointment, veterinary visit, expecting a package, etc.), it’s great to have that type of flexibility. Just make sure if you’re working remotely, that you’re well situated.
You’ll find yourself checking email at all times of the day. It’s because they get sent at all times of the day with global teams in different time zones. Because of that, I wake up every single morning anxious to check my email on my phone while I’m still in bed — knowing that there will be a full inbox. Not that it’s always a bad thing, but gone are the days of thinking about work only when I’m in the office.
Less of a chance to get to know my remote coworkers. We work hard to develop rapport with team members on different continents, but it’s not really the same as working side by side — even if we do make attempts. If nothing else, if gives me an excuse to add a few more countries to my travel bucket list.
The reality is, working remote agrees with some people better than others. But if you can find the perfect situation, it’s a really great way to go.
Have any experience working in a remote office or from home? Did it suit your personality? Let us know!
Chad Reid is Director of Communications for JotForm, a popular do-it-yourself online form building platform. In his free time he writes for various publications and plays pickup basketball near his home in Oakland, California.