Remote work has always been at least part of how I do things professionally. It’s a natural part of freelancing. But even when I’ve had a job-job, doing some work in the distraction-free environment of home was a recurring trochee in my professional rhythm.
That changed last April, when I had the very good fortune to land a 12-month term as the BC Federation of Labour’s director of communications. My last day was on Friday, capping off a year of guiding the messages and communication strategy for a terrific organization representing more than 500,000 union members throughout British Columbia.
And, like nearly all of my coworkers, I did it entirely virtually. There was no migration from the office for me; I never set foot there.
Yet despite years of working-from-home practice, it was a challenge to keep my BCFED work from encroaching on my personal life. (And vice versa, with unexpected puppy Zoom-bombing being one of the least intrusive incursions.)
That was partly because of the lack of physical separation — with remote work, there’s none of that psychological break that comes from walking out the office door.
But it was also the fact that I care a lot about the work I do. (Which is a tremendous privilege: A lot of people have jobs they find at best meh and at worst awful.)
And this job was no exception. The BCFED had to take on a remarkable challenge: advocating for working people, equity and justice in a pandemic that both raised the stakes dramatically, and transformed the way we do that work. It’s been a fascinating opportunity to find new ways to connect, collaborate, mobilize and effect change. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I’m delighted to return to my clients and freelance practice, but I’ll miss working with my friends at the Fed. My advice: When you have the chance to work with talented, dedicated people around values that matter to you, jump at it.
Of course, one thing that’s helped me navigate the challenges of my first-ever entirely remote full-time job is having a front seat as my wife Alexandra Samuel and her co-author Robert C. Pozen wrote Remote, Inc. — the definitive guide to (as the subtitle puts it) thriving at work wherever you are.
It’s a practical, hands-on guide for employees and managers alike, and not just for COVID times: Remote, Inc. will help you navigate the fusion of remote and on-site work that’ll emerge as the new post-pandemic normal.
It launches on April 27, but you can pre-order right now.