Finding The Third Way For Remote Work

Working from home can be tiring. Time to look for a third option

Tobi Olabode


Photo by Yasmina H on Unsplash

Recently I read a great article by Cal Newport putting a new spin on remote working. He calls for people to make use of third spaces for our work. Rather than working from home.

Taking your laptop to a rented office or a Starbucks is not a new idea. But Cal Newport argues that employers should subsidize their worker’s offices. Due to the increased productivity gains, he argues it’s a no-brainer. As investment will pay for itself.

At the beginning of the article, Cal Newport introduces the scene of many authors who rented space to do their work. Maya Angelou hired a bare hotel when she wanted to write. John Steinbeck went on a fishing boat to do his writing. JK Rowling was famous for renting hotel space in Scotland.

Cal Newport mentioned that writers may have been the first work from home knowledge workers. After the pandemic, many people may have to follow their lead as we continue remote working.

One of the issues from working from home is the lack of separation between home life and work life. As you are completing your presentation next to your laundry basket. Your brain is half occupied thinking about the various house duties that you need to do. Eating away at your concentration.

Cal notes:

Because the laundry basket is embedded in a thick, stress-inducing matrix of under-attended household tasks, it creates what the neuroscientist Daniel Levitin describes as “a traffic jam of neural nodes trying to get through to consciousness.” Angelou, by shifting her work to a hotel room with bare walls, was cultivating an effective mental space to compose poetry by calming her relational-memory system.

This is why many people recommend, you still keep the routines you had when heading to the office. So your mind creates the mental shift getting into work mode.

This is why cal mentions:

Many workers won’t be returning to an office anytime soon, but having them relocate their efforts entirely to their homes for the long run might be unexpectedly misery-inducing and unproductive. We need to consider a third option for our current moment, and if we look to authors for inspiration then one such alternative emerges: work from near home.

A co-working space, a small office above a Main Street store, a rented garage apartment, or even a spruced-up shed can enable a much more satisfying and effective experience tackling cognitive work than the laptop on the kitchen table, or the home-office desk in the bedroom.

This model of remote work allows us to take advantage of remote work. Without dealing with the mental fatigue challenge of dealing with our home environment.

You would make a good argument saying this is a promotion for co-working spaces and coffee shops. You won’t be wrong. But the article allows us to think about how we can improve remote work even more.

In the article, he mentioned a British startup called Flown. An Airbnb for office space. You can rent a room and desk with an amazing view of the Cotswolds or rent a house near a Portuguese beach.

I think this can be the upgrade of the nomad lifestyle that was popular a few years ago. As the short space away from your normal environment allows you time to think. But not too long that you are worried about getting a new visa. The short-stay allows you to get to your friends and family in a short time.

Flown allows for bigger spaces, to invite co-workers and other people to work on your project.

The startup is said to be targeting companies that want to buy in bulk. So employees can work in a new location that can help creative output.

On the website they described team off-sites:

Team off-sites are opportunities to bring a team together to connect and collaborate in person. For teams usually co-located, it’s a chance to get away from the day-to-day for a creative boost. For teams usually remote, it’s a chance to form valuable real-world bonds.

As I mentioned earlier with the return on investment, Cal Newport same something similar:

If an organization plans to allow remote work, the extra cost to subsidize the ability of workers to escape household distraction will be more than recouped in both the increased quality of work produced and the improved happiness of the employees, leading to less burnout and reduced churn. Strictly from the perspective of dollars and cents, W.F.N.H. is likely a superior policy to W.F.H. It’s an up-front investment that promises strong returns in the long run.

Remote work could get even better with the development of better technology. Notably, Starlink may allow for fast internet speeds in most rural areas. If Starlink works then you could read your presentation in the middle of the sea or check up on your email during a long mountain hike.

Thanks to covid lots of people have moved into suburbia. So if you have a large acre of land. You could work directly in a field enjoying nature at the same time.

Work near home help with more minor issues. Like lack of space at home. But one of the main barriers to Work near home is cost. Not everybody can afford to work in a third space. Hence the importance of subsidizing worker’s offices


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Tobi Olabode
ILLUMINATION Interested in technology, Mainly writes about Machine learning for now. @tobiolabode3