Years ago, I heard that a well-known German motorcycle brand supplied journalists with prostitutes at their press launches. Fortunately, this was before my time in the magazine game because I wouldn’t have known what to do with such a job perk.
In fact, the day I lost my virginity, all I kept thinking was, “My life is over! I’m going to be a 22-year-old dad!* I’ll have to walk the path of shame to my Catholic soon-to-be in-laws’ house to explain what happened with their daughter in the back on my Holden Gemini!”
Fortunately, those five minutes of excitement and terror passed without any offspring.
Entrapment of a Different Kind
Later, I discovered workplace incentives of a different kind. But on reflection, they created as much entrapment as a quick roll in the hay. They fuelled a constant cycle of working to pay for things I’d already bought. Promotions, salary increases and status elevations only served to prop up the lifestyle upgrades I’d factored in ahead of time.
After a while, I began to see that money and status (at least the kinds conferred to me by an employer) weren’t the goals at all. Freedom, autonomy, and flexibility to pursue other opportunities were.
It came to a head in my early thirties when I approached my boss with the idea of working from home. My role at his software company involved building marketing channels for our enterprise solution, so it seemed an ideal fit.
This was the beginnings of the Internet, and the idea that I could get more done with fewer distractions by avoiding the commute and the din of background chatter made a lot of sense. Fortunately for me, my boss agreed, and the rest is history.
Is WFH the new normal?
Fast forward to today, and the benefits of remote work are echoing around the world with incredible force. For many, it’s now a matter of public health – even life or death.
I’ve often said my favourite title is ‘Dad’. But a close second to that is ‘remote worker’. That’s because the second title has augmented the first. Unlike a lot of dads in the corporate sector, my work arrangement has allowed me to be around for my kids.
Over the weeks leading up to the Coronavirus lockdown, I witnessed a steady stream of office memos go out to staff describing the urgent need to self-isolate and to execute as much of our jobs from home as possible. For many, it’s been a liberating experience. Like me, they can enjoy breakfast with their kids, work in comfortable clothes, and get more done with fewer distractions.
Perhaps you now find yourself with extra time on your hands. Maybe your stress levels have dropped, and you’re wondering how to keep this newfound autonomy once COVID-19 is under control.
You might have discovered that this new way of working (and living) is what a job promotion is supposed to be – a LIFE upgrade. After all, that’s why we strive for them, right?
Besides, the satisfaction we draw from work is heavily influenced by the circumstances and environment in which we perform it. For example, an engaging job role can be ruined by the people you report to or the manner in which it’s structured. Your ability to complete difficult tasks could be hampered by frequent interruptions or your company’s obsession with daily meetings. That’s how it was for me many years ago.
If working from home solves these problems, if it makes your life better, then you’ve already won.
It’s what we wanted all along.
Here are some sobering facts that support what I’m saying.
- Stress is the “health epidemic of the 21st cent.” (W.H.O.) Remote work reduces stress.
- Nine in ten employees say flexibility to balance work & life issues is important to job satisfaction.
- 36% of employees would choose to work from home instead of a pay raise.
- Over 70% say the ability to work remotely will be important when choosing the next job.
- Many Fortune 500s say remote workers are 35% more productive.
- Remote working reduces unscheduled absences by 63%.
- 60% of employers cite cost savings as a significant benefit to remote work.
I suspect the Coronavirus has a long way to go before our lives return to normal, but maybe ‘normal’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe commuting every day, attending daily meetings and coming home exhausted each night is no longer acceptable.
If this brief taste of freedom is something you’re unwilling to relinquish, I suggest you start looking for a new kind of job promotion, one where you’re trusted to deliver on your job on terms you define, regardless of what becomes of this grizzly pandemic. If that means staying home after the madness subsides, the time to start planning for it is now.
Staying Home for Good
If you already have my free Work Anywhere Trail Guide, then you’re partway there. If you want to prepare yourself for that call to return to the cubicle, then I recommend getting my Escape the Office Game Plan.
For many of you, though, staying home is already a likely scenario, and that presents all kinds of tantalising opportunities to grow your income, improve your health and begin really living again.
If that’s you, check out Remote Work Academy. In a space of a few hours, I explain what you need to become a happy, productive and successful remote worker – including which tools to use, office set-up, creating the right structure for freedom, exploring new opportunities and making it all count towards the things that really matter.
You’ll learn how to seize new opportunities (like starting a side-hustle), spend more time with those you love, and earn permanent freedom so you can travel while you work. In other words, you’ll learn how to get your life back.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve discovered WFH for the first time, and the overwhelming majority are quietly terrified of the email yet to come. In short, they don’t want to go back to the old ways. They love this new life and all the freedom and cost savings it provides.
But rest assured, many bosses are questioning the need for the old structures, too. Business owners, leaseholders and accountants the world over are asking, “Is this the new normal? Do we really need that huge office, all those desks, car spaces and overheads?” But old habits and old beliefs die hard, and many of you will need to prosecute an effective case to remain home after the pandemic passes.
Prostitutes and fancy corner offices might have been desirable in the past – at least for some – but if this pandemic has proven anything, it’s that staying home might just be the promotion you’ve wanted all along.
*Yes, I started late.
Yesterday, a giant in my life called up to offer his final farewell. Today, he married his true love, Aurelia, before entering palliative care. He’s only 64, he’s athletic, and he's stronger than most 30-year-olds. But when cancer takes hold, it doesn’t care. Jonathon...
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