8 Moments of Remote Work Zen

8 Moments of Remote Work Zen

Mar 29, 11 • In Discussion, Experiences, Featured

For some remote workers, leaving the office behind is a choice to spend more time with family. For others, it’s a move to an environment more conducive to focus, or a way to travel the world while still making a living. Whatever your reason for working remotely, it’s good sometimes to reflect on the joys of living and working untethered to a desk.

I asked eight remote workers to tell me about their moments of remote work zen—those perfect moments that make it all worthwhile. Here are their answers.

I really hit my work zen at home, in my office, and mainly for two reasons.  The first is the ability to control distractions at home, and the second is surrounding myself with what I love.  Aside from my music it’s quiet.  It’s decorated with all sorts of colorful and fun things that help give me inspiration when I need it. I know where to find anything I need.  I find that being able to influence your own environment is very important.

David Browning, co-founder of Two Guys

  • working from home so I can take frequent breaks to play with my little baby…
  • working from a coffee shop on a sunny afternoon for a couple of hours

Sahil Parikh, Founder of DeskAway

Being able to watch my daughter’s class assembly because I can catch up the time later in the evening when she is tucked up in bed.

–Marieke Guy, blogger at Ramblings of a Remote Worker

Sitting somewhere around the house (porch/office/living room), only to have the husband/kid come up and mention that is too beautiful a day to be working and suggest we go out and do X (ride the motorcycles/ go to the beach/ swim in the pool).

Since I telecommute (and assuming that is not during a required work period), I can agree and go enjoy the beauty day with them. Work can be made up later that night.

Ligaya Turmelle

For me the best part of working remotely is that it allows me to change my environment.  There are times when I need to be heads down in a task that is monotonous and dull and there are environments that are more conducive to that.  Other tasks require creativity, which is something I don’t find easy in a cube.  By working remotely I can go to that coffee shop that helps me find my writing muse or one that is great for heads down productivity.

Environment can definitely change our moods and in doing so it can also change our ability to perform well.  By working remotely I’m allowed to change my environment as needed to insure that I’m able to complete work in a way that is most effective for me.

Jessica Dally, Project Manager at TechSoup

My moment(s) of remote work zen are often first thing in the morning. I have a big picture window in front of me and the sun hits the floor next to my desk. My tuxedo pseudo-kitten (8 months old) lays in it seemingly sound asleep. As the minutes pass and the sunbeam move, he slowly rolls over and over steadily following it across the room.

He never opens his eyes, but he looks comfy.

–D. Keith Casey, Jr., Chief Stuff Breaker at Blue Parabola

I love our morning skype video scrums. Often Brad and I have our daughters on our laps and Reid will bring his dog up so he doesn’t feel left out.

Shane Pearlman, CEO of Shane & Peter, Inc.

  1. In the car, tethering my phone to my laptop, while also talking to a customer about an urgent issue, run through the fix/test/check-in/deploy process, while my wife drove me and the kids to Grandma’s house.
  2. After picking up a sick child from daycare and comforting/medicating them, knowing that I can get back to work later, and be able to take care of my family, and meet client deadlines at the same time.

 –John McCaffrey, Rails Developer, blogger at Ruby on Rails Performance Tuning

What about you? What’s your moment of remote work zen?

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10 Responses to 8 Moments of Remote Work Zen

  1. 1) Working for long period of time when my focus is strong and energy is high
    2) Stopping early or going in late when my focus is weak or energy is low
    3) Being inspired on a Saturday and working for a while, because I feel like it
    4) Never worrying about being late
    5) Working in natural light only with the windows open and music playing


    p.s. the only thing my cat is good for is enforcing regular breaks

  2. To be able to pause work when suddenly have the urge to cook/walk-the-dog/call-my-mom/paint/read/whatever. I’m able to get more out of life by working remotely. When I’m in the zone, only my dog can remind me of the concept of time and responsibilities.

  3. My zen moments are at the start and end of every day. We still get up at the same time every morning, but without the stress of a looming commute we are able to enjoy our morning cuddles even more. Now I get more time with my daughter and am even able to start work earlier. At the end of each day I often used to face a stressful drive in heavy traffic wondering if I would make it to my daughters daycare on time. Now I walk to pick my daughter up and we walk home, holding hands, while she talks or sings the whole way. Beautiful and blissful moments made possible by the fact that I work from home, I love it!

  4. Steve Burkett says:

    These are all great things about working remote. but the people who attend their child’s events during the day, or go for 4 hour mountain bike rides are unavailable to the rest of the office. making up work at night is not teamwork. it’s cowboy time. I’m curious how people/teams deal with this.

    • Avdi Grimm says:

      It depends on the kind of work you are doing. If you’re building a house, everyone needs to be onsite at one time. But as both Paul Graham and Jason Fried have pointed out, for creative work constant availability is as likely to destroy productivity as it is to enhance it. A lot of the teams I interview for the podcast find that having certain limited, but well-defined periods of availability is perfectly sufficient for their needs.

      Speaking personally, I don’t “make up” work at night; after years of trying various schedules I’ve found that I consistently do my best work at night. So the teams that have the flexibility to accept that fact are the ones that have benefited the most from my participation.

  5. I can say that working from home it was a dream becoming true. No more noise, no more interruptions. The problem is in which country you live and how much good and famous you are. I am not famous, I move back in Italy from UK and I struggle to find work. I hope I will become more clever and one day when someone will ask me another time “On a scale from 1 to 10 (where 1 is “I got me some peepcodes” and 10 is “DHH”) where do you fall?” I hope I will be able to say 7/8… but I have this kind of questions 🙂

  6. My zen moment happened at a pub, while chatting with a group of strangers. A few of them were young parents, talking about their struggles to rails their children: giving up on work, crappy day-care – the usual. Before that I did not realize how much I gain from flexible working hours and not having to commute. Sure, it comes at a price – if I work less during business hours, I catch up late in the evening or over the weekend – still I find this price worth paying.

    Another one was at a pub as well (ekhm, a pattern?) after a web development about two years ago. For the first time I found myself participating in heated discussions with the conference speakers (for whom English was the first language) , without slowing it down. While this may not sound impressive, for me it was quite a feat – I have never been to an English speaking country. Working remotely for U.S. and U.K. teams gives me this precious daily 15 minutes of talking in English.

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