Today, working life seems very much different than it was only a few years ago. More and more companies in various industries have shifted to remote and hybrid work models. Working remotely has indeed become the new normal, but when I started as a digital entrepreneur in the beginning of 2018, it was not as common.
Was remote work a personal choice or was I forced to start working this way? It was basically both. I wanted a job that would not require me to stay in one place and also, wanted to have more international customers so starting to work as a content writer and an SEO consultant felt like a perfect way to go. And it was, it really was.
Even though, generally speaking, I simply love the fact that I can work from my small office or from home, I sometimes find working remotely hard. It can get lonely. Very lonely.
How it all started
The beginning of 2018 was exciting. I was about to graduate and start working as an entrepreneur. In January, I was still working as a brand executive and had an incredible team around me. Starting from February, I was completely on my own, working from home in Malta.
The first year was pure joy. Ever since working in restaurants and various customer service positions years ago, I had this dream of being able to be working on my own with no people in sight. This idea in my head had been strengthened while working, especially in one digital marketing company: its company culture was not empathetic and there was a lot of bullying.
Over the years in working life I had already learned that I am that type of a person, who doesn’t like to adjust to unfair company cultures. The only way to make sure I wouldn’t have to do that, was to start working for myself and be self-employed. When this was suddenly the reality, I was enjoying every single minute of it.
How it’s been
As an entrepreneur I have managed to surround myself with companies that have quickly become close partners. I have not had that type of a situation where I’d feel like I need to be serving my customers. Instead, I’ve felt like I’ve been a valuable asset to the companies I am working with – besides one that I got rid of very quickly.
I’ve met amazing people (online), and with some of them I’ve been working for 4 years now. I’ve made friends, even though they are on the other side of Europe. We communicate via Skype, and do this mostly by writing. Sometimes we have video calls as well. Those I would prefer to have a lot more. Maybe I should say something to my colleagues about this? Save me from misery, show me your face more often!
For the first year not having people physically there and not having face-to-face contacts was completely OK with me. But then it started to get heavy. I felt lonely. According to Forbes and various other sources, I am not alone with my loneliness. Our editor in chief, Hugh Clack, wrote about this in his article, The loss of social interaction through remote work, earlier this year.
I knew there was nothing I could change in my daily work, because I wanted to stay here in Finland and my customers were located all around Europe.
To get new contacts and have similar-minded people (meaning entrepreneurs) around me, I chose to start being a more active member in Suomen Yrittäjät here in Kouvola. I was chosen to the board of Kouvolan Yrittäjät and soon was in charge of matters related to students and schools, communication and social media. I even tried organising a gala. Wasn’t a huge success, let’s leave it there.
Having an actual office
In 2020 I got myself a small office in a building near the shopping centre in Kouvola, in hopes to get to know more entrepreneurs. I got to know just one: others were not as social and stayed pretty much in their offices.
I let go of the office at the beginning of 2021. I had already stopped going to the office six months earlier. Covid-19 and me getting a new puppy made me stay more at home and the office was no longer needed, it was just an extra expense.
My remote working day
At 8:00 I take my kid to daycare. I start working somewhere between 8:15 and 8:45. Usually the day starts like for most of us: by going through emails. Once those are sorted, I take a look at what I have planned for the day and just simply start doing that. In my current position as a country manager in a client project, I can pretty much decide the work schedule on my own. Typically, I have planned the week already somewhere in the week before.
My tasks consist of content planning, management and publishing. I also perform various tasks related to on-page and off-page search engine optimization. This means that I sit in front of the laptop several hours a day, all alone in my kitchen which is now also my office. Actually, I don’t sit all hours: my desk is of that type that you can adjust it. So I sit and I stand in front of the laptop several hours a day.
Around 12:00 I have a quick lunch – which in too many cases happens to be one litre of coffee and a chocolate bar. I have never been a fan of long lunches: they take too much time of the day and if I just eat something while working or use max 15 minutes to eat a proper meal, I can end the day a bit earlier.
At 16 I go and get my kid from daycare. We come home, have dinner and after that I work for an hour or so and then the rest of the evening is my free time. The next day, I repeat.
I’ve been working from home for more than a year now. It’s getting very heavy again, heavier than ever before. I still enjoy the work that I do and the team that I am part of. But I miss people. I miss having a cup of coffee with a colleague, I miss having a laugh with team members, I miss just seeing people.
This is also one of the reasons I am now here in Xamk. Even though during MBA studies we don’t get that many days at the campus, there are still some coming even this spring. I can’t wait to get back to campus, have that cup of coffee at Paja and go and say hello to all the lecturers from my BBA studies, too.
If you see me at the campus, please come and say hello, I need human interaction!
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