The opportunity to move for work is a privilege. Remote Work unlocks the potential of those who can’t.

Artur Piszek
Aug 12 · 5 min read

With Remote Work, you don’t have to choose between your career and behaving like a human being. You don’t have to uproot yourself and embark on an uncertain journey to seek a better life. The days of Wild West are gone.

The opportunity to move for work is a privilege, and the immense potential of those of us who are not willing to leave our lives behind is only beginning to be explored.

I always wanted to work with the best

I always wanted to work on products people would recognize. I wanted to feel inspired by improving the experience for millions of people and working on something I myself would find useful. Contributing to the company’s bottom line was not enough; I wanted to have a mission.

The coolest stuff was happening in Silicon Valley.

During the early days of my career, the European startup ecosystem was only starting to appear. But there, in California, everything was perfect.

  • People were working on fantastic products. In fact, everything I was using daily.
  • They were solving exciting challenges
  • The generous benefits of Silicon Valley offices were legendary.
  • Engineers were the new rock stars

I wanted to have a bite of that particular pie. I knew who I wanted to be, and I was willing to put the work in.

If it only were that easy.

It’s not as easy as being great

As I write this, my grandfather is not doing so well. I very much enjoy the opportunity to visit him and listen to his crazy war stories. About the time he was running a public house as a 14-year old to feed his family. Or how he stole german weapons and sold them to the resistance.

My Wife appreciates these stories too, and she “adopted” him as her own.

Since my Dad died about 15 years ago, my Mom also enjoys my help with odd things. I have to confess to my grumpiness caused by her contributions to my ever-growing To-Do list. But for them, I am their legacy. They don’t have any more close family.

For a while, I rebelled against this. Why should I pay the price? I have my own life to live, and I should be able to live it to the fullest! I will spare you the lectures about moral superiority and sacrifice.

When I dove into this topic searching for advice, any suggestion of “you should compromise” sounded like some looser trying to justify his choices. The moral superiority of “this is your duty” wasn’t enticing either. Even If I would sacrifice my dreams, I would never forgive them.

For me, it boiled down to “what can you afford to regret?”

I refused to choose or compromise.

  1. On the one hand, everything I dreamt of professionally was either in Western Europe or in California
  2. On the other, the joy I could bring to my family by not pursuing it was probably higher than the opportunity for me.

Then I stumbled upon the idea of working remotely.

Somehow, I have gotten into my head that remote work is only for entrepreneurs. I did try to run my own company before, but it went belly up during the 2009 crisis, and I was not eager to get back on that particular horse. But it did not occur to me that established, and trustworthy companies can hire remote employees outside the US.

Initially, I was lured in by the travel. The perspective of working from the beach, San Francisco, Tokio, or other exotic places was firing up my imagination.

In my previous job, I worked 4/5th of full time, which gave me an extra weekend every two weeks. These exciting travel opportunities only fueled my appetite, but I wanted more. Much more.

Life is more than a career and travels

There is a fantastic series of posts by Tim Urban from Wait But Why, where he maps a statistical life onto a calendar to visualize how much time he has left.

I highly recommend The Tail End.

“It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.”

I am not going to advocate that you should value time spent with your family more than swimming in the ocean, teaching orphans to code, or doing something else that is valuable to you.

I can work in a global company as an equal. I can contribute to the fancy things that come out of Silicon Valley, solve problems for millions of people, and read about my own projects in Techcrunch.

But what I am most grateful for is that I can do all that without abandoning my family. I would regret it if I did.

If you want to learn more about Remote Work or are looking for tips on applying for a remote position, check out my blog:

Epilogue

Last time I visited my Grandpa, he told me one of his crazy stories.

After the German army moved out of Gdansk, the government started populating the city. They moved vast masses of people across hundreds of kilometers in coal railway wagons. Among them — my grandfather, his Mom, and grandma.

Since he was no stranger to shady businesses as a 15-year-old, he set out to earn some money selling cigarettes to sailors pulling in to the newly opened ports of liberated Poland.

One day, a captain invited him on board. After feeding my Grandpa, he would continue to explain that he comes from Canada. His son had died in a car accident a few years back and looked precisely like my Grandpa.

He offered to adopt him and raise as his own. That may sound rash now, but just after the World War, this was not uncommon.

My grandfather debated that kind offer. He was enticed by the big house he could grow up in and the food he would never lack. But back in Gdansk, he had a sick mother. She would have no-one if he left.

He declined the offer, and the kind captain sailed away never to return.

My Grandpa’s sick Mom died two months later.

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