As I have been traveling in Portugal, Finland, Spain and England these past weeks, I have once again been struck by the commonalities we share as humans…both in our need for meaningful work and renewing play time. This balance is especially important for those who have chosen the path of remote work. However, the degree to which cultures intentionally plan for playtime is varied.
While in Finland I was honored to be part of a Global Faculty Colloquium held at JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyvascula; 18 individual from around the globe presented their practices related to applied research in the post secondary classroom. Inspiring, informative, and innovative ideas were shared, and each brought their unique culture and perspective to the conversation. However, the learning that left the strongest impression on me was the intentionality demonstrated by the Finnish people…our hosts. These people are hard workers, but take seriously their time to step back and enjoy the wonder of the country they are blessed to live in. Time and again, we heard guides and locals alike refer to ‘living room spaces’…spaces where people take time out of their work to simply sit, visit, get to know one another, and reflect on life. Time to be still, to think, to watch, to simply…be. I would suggest this is one of the two most important tools for a remote worker, the pre-cursor to innovative and creative thinking.
You may have intentional playtime all figured out, but for many this is a necessity that all to easily gets pushed aside. There is almost a panic that sets in if we are not doing something that contributes to existing contracts or to the pursuit of new business. While in Helsinki it was a treat to sit among the many people taking time out of their busyness to enjoy a pastry and coffee from one of the many sidewalk cafes, or simply sit on a bench along the city’s central linear park…intentionally taking advantage of the many ‘living room spaces’. But this is not a new concept…we are all keenly aware of the need for such ‘playtime’…aware, of , but perhaps not committed to .
I was also stuck by the intentionality of the Finns regarding building relationships in business. The value they place on taking time to create a foundation of trust before moving forward with business dealings is commendable; people first, business second. Read the rest of this entry »
I met a lady at a coffee shop recently while working on a presentation for Finland. She shared that her 3 kids work in different industries (business, urban planning, and medical support), all of them work remotely in varying degrees: two have office space that they use… sometimes, and the other has a home office and also uses coffee shops when appropriate. The lady herself had a season of working from home, but openly admitted that the discipline to stay focused and not jump into house keeping tasks became a loosing battle, so she moved back into the formal office setting.
This ‘moving back to the office’ is not about failure or defeat, it’s more about knowing yourself, the environments in which you thrive, and your limits.
Over the past few weeks I have been considering what I like about remote work, and what elements I’m not crazy about. I’ve also been chatting to others, researching, and brainstorming with peers to learn about their experiences. The short and sweet of it? Remote workers like the ability to be flexible and have a choice about how, when, and where the work gets done. As well, the idea of intentionality regarding work results in great productivity, and calls for much creativity in overcoming possible barriers.
The flip side? Things like poor communication, inadequate technology, and undependable Internet access can create great frustration for both workers, and employers. This in addition to the on-going struggle to balance work and personal space (thus the need for good self-discipline!). One final aspect that many individuals working remotely battle with is a sense of isolation and lonelyness.
Like any work situation, you take the good with the not so good…the question lies in whether or not you can overcome, or accept, the aspects that are less than ideal. For me, and for most remote workers that I have engaged with, the pros are great enough that the commitment to finding a way to make remote work, work…is worth the effort.
The number of people working remotely (in varying formats) is growing; next blog join me as we take a closer look at how both the workers and the employers are creating some really successful outcomes.
In the meantime, check out this interview conducted with a remote worker regarding his experiences. And yes, it does beg the question… “What are the key differences between remote working and nomadic working?” Nathan describes the first as being in a position of having an office (whether a home, shared, or separate office space) and the second being in a state of having no constant. What are the advantages, draw backs, and risks of each? A question to be answered by a nomadic worker?
Change…what kind of emotions, images, memories does that word bring to mind? For some the excitement level soars, while for others the response is nothing short of instant panic. The majority of us will find ourselves somewhere along the spectrum, depending on the nature of the change.
For me change is exciting…most of the time, when I feel I’m in control (yup, a bit of a control freak). Right now my life seems to be marked by change; let me just share some highlights:
- we just moved to a basement suite and will move again in 6 months (who knew the condo market was so hot!)
- our son and family moved to Dublin 3 weeks ago (yes, and they took all 6 of our grandkids!)
- in a few days, deciding on my daily schedule will once again have to submit to the college calendar.
- and of course we are starting to welcome autumn.
All of these changes are good and come with the promise of exciting outcomes. However, the impact of each greatly depends on my attitude toward the change.
I keep remembering the morning we said goodbye to our kids at the Kelowna airport. Kudos to the agents at Westjet…they were terrific with the challenges presented with checking in 2 adults, 6 kids, and all their luggage, and a flight plan that was a little messed up! The words that are forever etched into my memory came from the response our daughter in law had to a question asked by the agent: ‘So how are you feeling about this big move?’ Without a second’s hesitation, Crystal said ‘Totally excited!’. Needless to say the agents were amazed with her instant and exuberant outlook regarding what could be an overwhelming change.
When I reflect on my previous blog regarding expectations vs expectancy, I’m impressed by the link between that, and the certainty of change. I can’t imagine a life without change, nor would I want a life without change! However, I want to live a life that welcomes change with the enthusiasm of my grandson finding a really cool shell on the beach, or the wonder with which our youngest granddaughter looked at the picture of a giant rose I texted to her. I want to model the kind of attitude our son and daughter in law modelled for their children when moving to Ireland…and the sense of adventure I experienced when my parents moved us from Ireland to Canada 45 years ago.
I have a full schedule this fall and I am excited about each and every event on my calendar. I can’t control how each activity will play out, or what unexpected changes will occur. However, I can approach each with a spirit of expectancy, positivity, and wholeheartedness.