Being a remote worker is great. I have talked about it (in glowing terms) many times on this site. But there are some pitfalls to being location independent, negatives that remote workers prefer to gloss over. Here is the skinny on what it’s really like...
I was an early adopter of the ‘digital nomad’ movement, but this was by chance rather than by choice.
After being made redundant I began to freelance. As my work was mostly online, I was instantly gifted the opportunity to jump on the ‘digital nomad’ bandwagon – I did so with gusto. I threw myself into redefining the idea of the workplace by trying out new venues and environments to work from.
To clarify, I was never one of those people who would post pictures of their laptops from Thailand or take a #worklifebalance selfie next to a Mai Tai overlooking a sunkissed beach:
Nah, I was blogging from East London hun.
I would use online resources like Click Offices or forums to chat with other freelancers and find out the best local spots. I tried co-working spaces, restaurants, pubs, bars and anywhere else that had hot beverages and free wifi. It was a far cry from my previous job, a job I had (literally) sat in for years. Demotivated, I had become very much part of the furniture and one of the problems was the mundanity of having to be in the same place, with the same people every.single.day. I felt suffocated and began blogging on the side to flex my creative muscles. The blogging turned into a full time gig.
The coffee shop myth
For a while coffee shops were actually my fav venues to work from. I searched reviews online and would choose the places with the best brews and wifi to frequent. I would spend hours working, consuming coffee after coffee at a different spot each day – it was fantastic…for a bit. Then I would notice the looks I would get when I pulled out my laptop, even after I had bought a coffee. I would get irrationally annoyed by the mummy and baby crowd (despite being a mother myself) when they would enter en masse. Then there were the days when my favourite coffee shops would be full and I would have to sit in an uncomfortable chair with no plug socket, frantically tapping away before my battery would run out.
You see the truth is, a space that has been created for work is actually the best place to do…work. My years of being location independent have enlightened me, as once the novelty of a new place wore off it really just came down to the basics – is there a plug, wifi, space for my laptop and enough quiet to get my work done (and of course access to coffee).
I have since created a home office and do most of my work from there now. It’s easy to get to, I don’t have to ask for the wifi code and the coffee is free. My work output has increased tenfold just by being in a dedicated work space. My advice, if you find yourself side-eyeing the noisy table at your favourite work spot, or paying more for your coffee than you actually made in profit that day, it may be time to rethink this whole digital nomad life – it worked for me.