What I've learned working nomadically for 6 months
Is it all the rage? Do I work in my pyjamas? Is the coffee lady my best friend by now? Or am I going crazy not speaking to another human being for days on end (slight exaggeration, but how else am I going to make my point?). In this post I talk to you about how it was to run the Scribe Tribe since July, without a physical office to go to. And what changed since then!
As you know, Inkpact went through major changes last year deciding to stop having a physical office space and reducing the core team back to basics: Sales, Tech, Community and Costumer Success.
We started the “experiment” with a whopping 2 week trip to Bali, Indonesia, building bonds as a team as well as learning the new demands of our nomad roles, and then we returned home. Alone. No office buddies, and definitely no sunny days in sight. And here’s what I learned about the so called joys of working from home (or anywhere you want!).
What I love:
- Not having to commute! Seriously, not having to be on a packed tube at rush hour, with sweaty and grumpy people who clearly would love to be anywhere else in the world but there, is THE dream!
- Eating home cooked meals, even at lunch time. Now, you must know, I always bring a packed lunch with me to work, even if I’m at the office. But the fact you can eat your food from an actual plate, instead of the container you brought from home and just reheated in the microwave leaving your food piping hot around but freezing cold in the middle, and (because I eat like a mammoth) having no way to mix it, is a blessing. Seriously. A good plate of home-cooked-evenly-warm food is a God send.
- Listening to my own music, not wondering if my headphones are too loud for the person sitting next to me, because there’s no one else there!!! I can listen to Musical Theatre original soundtracks or my beloved Indie bands without feeling the judgement! Oh, and spontaneously turning a bathroom break into a dance off whilst “Everybody” from the Backstreet Boys is playing may have happened. Twice.
- I can work wearing WHATEVER I want. Do I want to keep my pyjamas on until 12pm? I certainly can. Gym wear is perfectly acceptable. But also, if I end up waking up at 6am to film a self tape (yes, I’m still an actress, so it has happened), and want to wear a full face of make up and a nice outfit, I can! Oh, the joys! Although I suspect the post man has now seen me in such disgraceful outfits he may not look me in the eye next time he rings.
- I can actually. Work. From. ANYWHERE. Like, I book a trip to see my mom, and I can work from the same sofa I watched “10 Things I Hate About You” every day for a year when I was 17! I can work AND be with my mom. How can life get any better?
Now, it can’t all be roses, right? So here’s what I could do without:
- No work/home separation. I am not one to go regularly to coffee shops to work from, as I get super guilty being there for 3h with a single cappuccino in front of me, and dislike the anxiousness it gives me, thinking I am not consuming enough, etc etc. Also, who gets paid enough to spend days on end at coffee shops!? So I end up spending most of my week inside my house. In my living room. And I do have a desk and all, but if I sit on my sofa, I see the desk. Which means I see the work. It’s not like leaving the office and leaving it all behind. You live where you work. And sometimes it’s a bit much. Which leads to…
- No schedule. I’ve fixed this now. But for months I had no work/life balance whatsoever. A Scribe emailed at 11pm? I’d check the email. Probably reply. A campaign was running over the weekend? I’d stay home checking everything was running smoothly instead of going out and enjoying the weekend. My working hours went from officially being 9h-17h30 to being 9h-whenever I went to sleep. It did start to take a toll, and what I’ve done about it I’ll tell you in a bit!
- The loneliness. Yeah, it’s cool to only speak to who you love/want, instead of having to do small talk by the water cooler with someone you have little in common. But spending days on end alone was not fun either. I sometimes spend a couple of minutes more in the post office talking to Charles (the post office man) just so I can have a human interaction with someone else than my beloved boyfriend. Plus, he has spent his day in an office, surrounded by people, so having me nagging him incessantly in the evening is not what he needs wither. Poor guy.
With likes and dislikes out of the way, what have I actually learned?
- I found out I am definitely an outgoing introvert. The difference between introvert and extrovert is the way you “recharge” your internal battery. If you’re full to the brim in social interactions and feel depleted when alone for long periods, congratulations, you’re an extrovert. If, like me, you do love social interactions but it’s when you’re alone that you feel yourself recharging, then you’re an introvert. I am a crazy person, and super friendly and outgoing, but I do need my alone time. Working nomadically has done wonders for my energy levels! I can be social all I want, when I want, but I also have my own space and time to fill up.
- I had to be told off by an actual doctor to start having boundaries. I now have all notifications off from my phone after 21h, and really don’t look at work related messages after 18h, unless they’re somewhat urgent (sorry if you message after 18h… I’ll reply, but only next day). I have put in place a plan to delegate tasks so I can actually have days and times off from work. Your life should never be your work, and I had to learn that the hard way.
It has definitely been a learning curve, but overall, I am absolutely loving working nomadically! I guess being able to put a load on in the middle of the day, and being there for when your online grocery shopping is delivered is great and all. But what I really love is the freedom you have to schedule your to do list the way it works best for you and go through it uninterrupted. Now, I don’t make my own schedule, I still work for a company with definite opening hours, so it’s not like I can be “my own boss” and decide to schedule a coffee meet up in the middle of the day. But I can travel. I can work from anywhere where wifi is good and available, and I can snack all I want (dangerous, I know, but I’ve been actually pretty great with food snacks!*). Also knowing someone trusts you to be independent and still deliver is an amazing feeling.
You must also know, that since the beginning of February, Inkpact has once again gone back to having a physical office, of sorts. We have some desks of our own in a co working space, in a pretty neat central London location (Piccadilly Circus), where you’re all welcome to come visit. But I am only there once, maximum twice every week. So I still get the best of both worlds!
Have you worked nomadically before? What did you think? And how many times do you raid your pantry a day?