LAUNCHPAD: THE FUTURE IS REMOTE
“There’s comfort. There’s a lack of distraction. There’s calm. There’s solidarity that’s healthy for me.” - Nicole Turchin
As I sit here today in my home office, my dogs softly snoring on the couch across from me, my husband working at his desk within earshot, the windows open so I can hear the birds singing in the tranquility of my little piece of heaven on Earth, watching the leaves slip from the trees as we coast into fall, I can’t help but be thankful. Thankful that I can approach my work in an atmosphere that allows me to create, build, and develop, without distraction. Thankful that I can sit where I feel like I most belong and be the best version of myself possible. Thankful that I can work remotely in a world that sometimes views true success in our ability to be anything but remote.
Don’t get me wrong. While I consider myself an introvert, most would not. Even my Myers-Briggs Indicator will show you I’m an (e)xtrovert! When I’m in CoreLink’s office (approximately 2 – 3 days per week), I love the socialness I get from a group of collaborative colleagues who care for one another. We laugh. We talk. We play jokes on one another. We celebrate. And, we have face-to-face interactions that are invaluable to human connectivity. I enjoy my time in the office but, as someone who values alone time, I often come home mentally drained, unable (or maybe unwilling) to converse. After a day in the office, I’m ready to take the dogs down to the water and do nothing but watch them delight in their daily playfulness, something that requires no words from me.
Writing this makes me feel like a recluse and, perhaps, I can be. However, there’s something valuable for me in being able to work from my home office. There’s comfort. There’s a lack of distraction. There’s calm. There’s solidarity that’s healthy for me. There’s a piece of this home office that makes me feel valued, cared for, and appreciated because I know that by being here, I’m trusted to do my part. I’m trusted to connect myself in creative ways. I’m trusted to be a responsible individual, capable of building relationships in a variety of ways that don’t involve an in-person presence. I’m trusted to get my work done. I’m trusted to be a good employee out of the office, just as I am when I’m in the office.
When I was little, there was a small forest to the south of our family home. I had carved out a little path through the trees that led to an open area to where I would frequently adventure. I’d pack up my best friend, my cat Max, and we’d stroll through the trees to the play area that seemed nothing short of magical. While I don’t have a clue what I did for so many hours in that spot, I do know it’s where I felt most at peace. When I think back, I wonder how many parents today would let their child play in the woods for hours upon hours, never really checking in? Or maybe my parents did and I didn’t notice. The only sense I can make of it is that my parents knew this was my happy place, away from the noise, the chaos, the lights, the chatter – maybe they knew this and fostered in me the ability to independently appreciate the calm that life unintentionally sometimes takes from us. Maybe, just maybe, they were giving me a gift that none of us at the time even realized.
I write this in hopes of getting companies around the globe to see the uniqueness that everyone brings to their organization. I hope that sharing my story brings understanding that some of us need the time away to grow, to foster our individuality, and that by working remotely, we are likely creating better connections with ourselves and with those around us. I’m so grateful for organizations like CoreLink who listen when someone says, “I need to adjust how I work so I can do my best for you and for me.” This understanding and commitment to individuality has meant the world to me and has absolutely made me a better employee, friend, wife, daughter, community member, and human being.
Interested in learning more about Nicole’s passion around remote work? Check out her new endeavor, Sunshine & 79, an employee experience company based in Fargo, ND, which celebrated its debut in October 2019.
Corporate routine is a constant of changing attitudes, floor plans, and fears. In a recent Fast Company article, Jessica Stevens wrote about the rise of remote work and how it is the true future of the workforce, not necessarily “robots, AI programs, and other technological marvels that strip humans entirely away from the workplace.” Sure, there is reason to believe some jobs and industries are at the mercy of technology, the factor with the most probable impact is how employees of the future approach their day-to-day work.
Technological advances have meant we are more connected, digitally, than we’ve ever been. Instant messaging means entire last-minute conversations can happen without anyone leaving their desk. Tools like Skype allow employees to see each other during meetings, even if they are separated by miles. In a place like Fargo, North Dakota, where CoreLink is based, the winter months can be brutal. Team members like Nicole, who shared her story above, can work from the safe comfort of her home during a blizzard and still connect with her team and see projects to completion. The same team who opts to work from lake houses during the summer months when the weather is momentarily perfect. Or, the same team who opts to have an afternoon at home for a mental break. Or, the same team who chooses to let things like personal appointments, pets, kids, or an array of other ‘life’ reasons take priority over the need to be in an office chair in a stale conference room.
According to Stevens’ article, remote employees are more productive. She references recent research by Gallup that employees who spend multiple days a week working remote are more engaged when they are in the office than those who spend every weekday at the physical office location. The work-life balance means they are happier and more excited when the time comes to physically interact with their peers.
Critics argue that our reliance on technology is the end of humanity as we know it, but even those critics have embraced the conveniences that come with smart phones. Those conveniences extend beyond the employee, but also to the customer. Traditional 9-to-5 schedules may become a thing of the past, as “the remote workforce is effectively always available,” according to Stevens. Work-life balance is still important to the remote worker, but that balance means that a work day could include hours outside the traditional norm.
Ready to take on the world of the remote employee? It’s not as difficult as it seems. As long as each employee understands their work expectations, rolling out a remote employee plan is as simple as guaranteeing technology is adequate and instructions for approval are clear. Even more important is the piece that feeds into a company’s culture: trust. Trust that your employees have the company’s best interest in mind, just as much as the company has the employee’s mental and emotional well-being in mind.
For more on implementing a healthy remote work policy, read more from Glassdoor.