I’ve worked remotely from four different locations now, my most recent in a home that we designed and had built in our small community of Trumansburg, New York. I knew when we designed the house that a good home office was going to be “off the beaten path”, and so it’s located at the top of the stairs in a room that nobody has to transit through to get anywhere else. As an added bonus, there’s extra insulation in the walls and floor so noise from neighboring rooms doesn’t make it too far. The office doubles as a media room at night: it’s where was have a couch and television, and where we do most of our Netflix watching. I love my glass-topped desk, and have a laptop/monitor combo for my day job and a personal iMac for everything else. I sit on a ball chair, and have a small conference table for meetings and the occasional family game of poker or Risk. The room has generous windows that overlook my backyard. The scene includes our family garden, an outdoor sauna, a lawn that invariably needs mowing and a plethora of wildlife.
Why I’m Remote Where I’m Remote
In 1998, after almost two years at Citi, I told my boss I was about to be married. My fiancee and I were looking to live outside of the New York City area. My goal was really to inform him that I was going to be looking at other jobs: either transfers internal to the bank or finding another company. I had no other angle. No other goal. He considered what I said carefully. After just a few beats, he asked “How would you like to work from home?” That’s how it started. The only criteria was that I could get to New York City relatively easily. I worked from home for Citi for 15 of my 17 years there, from Waltham, MA, Fairport, NY and my current location. I’ve worked for Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) for the last five years, also from the same location. We chose this town because of family: my parents already lived here, and my wife’s parents were willing to move. As a result, my kids have grown up with both sets of grandparents in town.
Depending on the manager (and I’ve had a lot of them!) I’d be expected to travel as frequently as once every week (that didn’t last long) or as infrequently as every 9 months (that’s a little TOO long). The sweet spot has been once every month or two. I visited Long Island City when I was with Citi, and now visit a building in lower Manhattan for my current job. I like going to the city, but I love living in the country. I used to fly to New York when it was economical and convenient (yes, there was a time), but now I love a bus service that Cornell operates. It’s pretty swanky as buses go.
My Thoughts on Pets
We didn’t have a family pet for a long time, until Snowball came along. He was a classroom pet, and the teacher took maternity leave and was looking for a place for him to go. He lived in a room across the house from my office until we turned it into a commercial kitchen for my wife’s Emoticakes business. I bunny-proofed my office, put a makeshift gate on the door, and enjoyed my new office companion. He’s pretty chill and has free reign of the room. He’s litter-trained, kind of like a cat, so all his litter, food, water and hay are in a corner of the room. He’s surprisingly low-maintenance. The lad even has his own kid-moderated Instagram!
The biggest benefit I derive from working remotely is quality of life. Without a commute, I have a lot more control over my start and end times. I get a lot more work done as a consequence, too. I’m able to eat better, maintain a really active lifestyle, and be there for my kids and wife when they need me.
What Challenges Do Remote Workers Face?
For me, isolation. It’s tough being alone all day long! I make a point to get out and see people, making plans to hike, get coffee, or just relocate myself to the coffee shop or library to get some work done where other people are out and about. I’ve figured out ways to counter the other cited drawbacks to remote work, from being invisible to staying motivated, so have all kinds of advice around those topics.
My Best Remote Work Advice
Set up the best possible space you can. You’re going to be there many, many hours, so personalize it: make it yours. It’s important that it be free of most distractions, too, so location is probably the most important consideration.
When I’m Not Working
I’m interested in a lot of things! Running and music are the heaviest non-work pursuits I have. My intro page on my personal web site does a pretty good job introducing who I am when I’m not working.