Making The Case For Remote Work


I’ve been a digital nomad for a long time. In the 1990s, I began using one of the first wireless modems while publishing a technical newsletter and working on computer books. The signal was too weak to work from home, but the nearby Starbucks happened to be close enough to one of the transmitters that I could actually get by on my laptop. It unfortunately presaged a serious caffeine addiction that I’m still fighting today, but I loved the way that I could get several hours of productive work done a day without the hassle of thrice daily meetings, impromptu check-ins, and two hours a day spent navigating the highway just to get to my place of work.

Over the next thirty years, I alternated back and forth between being office-bound and working remotely, though, save for a brief and fairly disastrous stint on site lasting about five months, I’ve pretty much become a permanent remote worker. It helps that most of the careers that I have had lend themselves well to remote work: writing, teaching, programming, design, journalism and so forth where the expectation is that you will likely end up spending several hours a day focused on intellectual tasks. This also requires a certain amount of discipline, as the online world in particular can prove to be particularly seductive at sapping away your attention.

There are all manner of digital nomads. There are the weekend-warriors, people who drop out one or two days a week, staying at home or the nearby coffee shop rather than getting onto the highway and battling cross-town traffic. There are the time-shifters, who trade coming in a bit later so that they aren’t spending their time battling traffic, usually in exchange for taking work home. There are those like me, (the homebodies) who work mostly from home and very (very) occasionally flies to a client’s site for a week or two, and there are the true nomads, those who live on the road, working from an RV or boat, and then camping at a client’s when they need to be onsite (call them travellers).

What they all have in common is that they have generally made the realization that the most valuable commodity they have is time, and that the internal politics of nearly all businesses interfere with their ability to manage that commodity.