Remote work and the importance of remaining social

Nathan wrote a post titled “Remote work” in which he wrote about his transition from a somewhat conventional office environment to a distributed team. Working remotely certainly has benefits (his one team member saving 40 hours a month just by not commuting to work surprised me).

I used to work at home until about 2010 and it seemed like a great way to save money and still remain productive. Since moving to an office away from home, I realised that working from home can be pretty isolating and can also suck you into a tendency to always be working.

A client once told me that he shuts down his laptop when he leaves the office, sometimes doesn’t even take it home with him. That struck me as a waste. After all, what about that extra time at home and the additional work you can do there? His insistence on shutting down when leaving the office stuck with me and it has become really important to me.

Switching off my work stuff when I leave my office is critical for my sanity. Working constantly is a great way for me to burn out faster and miss my limited time with my family. Having an office to go to creates that physical separation between work and home that helps maintain a form of balance in my life. It comes as a cost: Nathan accomplishes a tremendous amount by working harder than almost anyone else I know, but so does the alternative (at least for me).