Giving up your commute may be the biggest benefit of working remotely. Commutes take a toll on your happiness, your wallet, and the environment. When you first start working remotely, either because you got a new job or because your employer approved your request to work remotely, the lack of a commute will immediately make you happier.
Because of that immediate personal benefit, I strongly encourage you to give your commute to your employer. The first days and weeks working from home – or a coffee shop or library – are full of learning new things about what works and what doesn’t for remote work.
You’ll be dealing with a family or roommates that aren’t used to having you around, and you’ll need to work out the rules around that. You’ll have a whole new set of possible interruptions and distractions to challenge you. Honestly, your office setup will probably not be ideal. It takes time to build a comfortable, productive home office. Or, alternatively, it takes time to learn the ins and outs of productive work at a coffee shop or library.
For all of these reasons and more, you may not be as productive initially as you were at the office. If you’re additionally starting a new job, you’ll have all the challenges of learning the ins and outs of a new company, a new boss, new ways of working, new tools, etc. If you’re anything like me, all that newness will leave you feeling slow, kind of stupid, and just unproductive.
Because of that, I highly recommend taking the time you save by not commuting and giving it to your employer. If you would leave at 8 in the morning, and get home at 6, go ahead and plan to work that whole time. You won’t succeed of course, for all the reasons I listed above. And even if you do, you probably won’t get as much done as you’d like to.
That’s ok, don’t worry. The new job will eventually become a comfortable place to work. You’ll build out a workable home office. Though it may take years to perfect that home office, you can make it comfortable and productive relatively quickly. Your family or roommates will learn how to deal with you being in the house, but unavailable. They’ll learn when it’s ok to interrupt you, and you’ll learn how to balance your work with the possibility of doing other things during the day. You’ll get used to the new tools of remote work, and make them part of your regular workflow.
In the long run, you’ll get your commute back. But in the short run, giving it to your employer will increase your chances of success at remote work. And whether it’s a new job or not, you’re selling your ability to work remotely. You want to be a success at it. If you’re at a distributed company, they want you to be a success as well. If you’re trying out remote work without changing jobs, your manager and coworkers will be watching carefully to see how well it works for you. Your peers will probably be fervently hoping you succeed. So will your team lead, as he or she thinks about the cost savings and opportunities remote work will open up for the company.
By giving up your commute you’ll be happier. By giving it up to your employer, they’ll also be happier, and you’ll increase your chances of long term success as a remote worker.
For you remote workers out there, how do you use the time that used to be spent commuting?