We Asked If Remote Working Was Sustainable And You Wowed Us

It has its unique appeals and its unique challenges, but let’s bring our heads together and see what the future of work brings.


Last week we asked the Somewhere community if remote working was sustainable long-term. While some of you said the usual “depends on the person and the company” (myself included), others really went into the thick of it, and if you keep reading, you’ll see what I mean.

When I think of remote working,

I envision this doodle by Kiki Schirr, who — like me — works from home:

In Psychology there’s a term called “work-life spillover”. It’s the opposite of work-life balance; a situation where your work spills over into your life in unfortunate ways. You can’t sleep from thinking about tomorrow’s tasks, you can’t turn your mind off on the weekend, etc.

When the term was invented, there was no such thing as remote working, and if you think about it, the new model didn’t so much solve the problem as it made it more complex and wide-spread. And while this can present a problem on the way to sustainability, there have been some new trends that have made the remote working lifestyle easier and more enjoyable.

Taking all that into account, we — the team of Somewhere — decided to explore the subject further. Mostly because we’re curious about the future of work and because your insights always wow us.

This is what you smart folks said…

It’s the way of the future. That said, I’m a freelance writer with an overdeveloped sense of curiosity and a gypsy spirit so… I’m a little biased. — MacKenzie C.

So not all of us remote workers are hermit crabs! Some of us truly love to travel, like MacKenzie here… and what better way than pick up a craft that allows you to travel the world and not run out of money?

This digital nomadism trend is growing steadily, and it’s definitely a plus because you’re less likely to pour all of your time in your work when new places are begging to be explored. But before going to your next adventure, use Pieter Levels’ nomadlist. It filters places depending on your preferences of: weather, cost of living, internet strength, etc.

When you can both make money and explore new cultures, it’s really a no-brainer, especially to wandering spirits such as myself and MacKenzie. (Eventually, the wandering may tire you, but that’s another subject.)

I’m less ‘remote’ when alone in the studio. Remote is an attitude not based on geography… — Libby Page

Interesting. Here I thought remote working was working from a distance, but Libby has another spin to it, which makes a lot of sense.

When I sparked, ‘remote’ seemed like a word that implied disconnection and solitude. Being exclusively ‘remote’ is not something I find positive.
However, I have felt this sense of remoteness/disconnection both alone and working in an office full of people. So I don’t think it has to do with where you are working, but rather a state of mind; an attitude.

Isn’t it interesting how language sparks different associations for each of us due to our unique experiences? But I digress…

I’d also argue that it’s not solely a “state of mind” in the traditional sense, but also a state of the modern worker. With so many distractions and gadgets around, we have not only become dependent on tech, but we have also fallen into a trap of chronic busyness and going around in circles.

I’ll give you an example: When I get up in the morning, I check my twitter. (And even though I love doing that, it takes an hour.) After that it’s email’s turn, and then communities… depending on the number of people who have reached out, I can spend a few hours on this, BEFORE WORK.

When I’m exhausted from catching up, I have to do serious work. Yikes.

So yeah, time-management has definitely become harder of late, but what can you do? Progress will happen, no matter what. And the only thing you can do is work on yourself. And hey, these tools might help.

For the right person, in the right company, it definitely is. But, it requires discipline, a personality to handle the potential isolation, flexibility and a good understanding of how to separate work space from home space. — Jason Fukura

So apart from personality and discipline, we also have to manage our surroundings?! Oy vey. (I am writing this from my comfy couch, my bed a step away, munching on something bad from the kitchen.)

But it makes sense, doesn’t it? Our surroundings really affect our work and productivity, just like nature affects our creativity.

When I asked Jason to expand, he said:

Right now my separation of work and home space is a door and a mentality — since I have been working in shared/home spaces too. It’s pretty much “if I’m attached to the laptop and headphones, I’m working.”

There it is, the latest trend of shared spaces and experiences.

I don’t know what the article says, but the picture is great.

In today’s economy it makes sense to make the jump from working from home to working from other people’s homes. It’s like Couchsurfing for projects.

Even Airbnb has just jumped on the house-surfing trend with Airbnb for Business Travel. And someone’s already making “The Airbnb for Startup Retreats”.

There’s already been an influx of related schemes on Product Hunt. Things like Remote Year, Hacker Paradise, The Surf Office, Outsite, Nomad House, Hoffice, and Horizon all serve this new way of life, and create a great new wave of digital nomads living, working, and traveling together.

(Thanks to Remote.co for hooking us up with some of those links!)

So there you have it: We’re on the way to sustainability. This trend — like any other trend — will morph and adapt to meet our (and society’s) needs until it settles and gives birth to the next big thing/s.

We’re truly living in great times. We have to appreciate how far we’ve come because our grand parents and even our parents couldn’t travel like this, and the world wasn’t their oyster. But it’s ours.

And this is the future of work.

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If you’d like to meet some fellow modern workers, join us on Somewhere — the visual platform for sharing your work.
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