We are excited to introduce you to Mrs. AR from Adventure Rich (unfortunately no longer online). Working from home can seem like the ultimate dream - no commute can free up a lot of time! Mrs. AR thought so too. Not only does she share how she made this a reality, but shares the challenges of working from home with us and how she created solutions that work for her. Here is her awesome story:
What was your life like before you pursued your dream?
For several years, I lived a typical “working woman” life. I juggled a 1+ hour long commute in southern California traffic to and from my office while trying to do my share of household tasks, spend time with my husband, spend time with friends, and pursue my personal goals.
When our son joined the family, this juggle became more complicated and we added new items to our day… feeding, clothing and caring for our boy, driving him to and from daycare, playing with him, and managing bedtimes. Life was good, but it was hectic and quite busy at times.
What was your freedom dream?
I was fortunate to have a job that allowed me to work from home a few times a month. I would use these days to catch up around the house during the time I would be commuting. While these “work from home” days were a great relief, I began to wonder if I could work from home more often… maybe even full time!
Cutting out the commuting time and some of the distractions that the office brought sounded quite enticing. But it did not seem like there was an opportunity to pursue this dream at the time, so I continued to work hard both in my career and at home.
What was the catalyst to pursuing this dream?
I have to admit, the catalyst for pursuing my dream of working remotely was a bit indirect. My husband and I were interested in moving closer to one of our families and settling in a lower cost of living area.
When he received a job offer near my family in Michigan, we suddenly had a potential cross-country move on our hands. And I needed to figure out if I could work remotely for my company or if I would need to find another job!
It’s one thing to have a dream. It’s another to make it a reality. How did you plan to turn your dream into a reality?
I guess for me, the first phase of planning took place as my husband and I looked for jobs in other locations. We primarily focused on looking for a job for him, knowing I may have an opportunity to work remote. Once he found and applied for a job, I took the leap of approaching my employer to negotiate a remote office arrangement. After a few weeks of discussions (in which time my husband received his job offer!), my employer agreed to allow me to work remotely and we packed our bags for a cross-country move!
During this time, we went through many phases of planning on the financial side. We modeled various scenarios based on the cost of living in the potential locations and the various salary levels we might be at. Excel and comparison lists (oh, and pros-cons lists) became my best friend during this time!
What challenges did you face along the way and how did you push through?
The initial hurdle in moving to a work remote arrangement was getting approval from my management. Once that was in place, I had a new set of challenges… making a home office environment actually work!
My biggest adjustment and challenge was learning how to balance and separate home and office life when they both took place under the same roof. I had to dedicate a desk in a room with a door for “work only” purposes so that I can “go to work” each day and leave the house behind. And when I am done for the day, I have to “go home” and avoid checking email late into the evening or being constantly “on”. It has taken some tweaking throughout the year, but I am now in a good rhythm and schedule that works well for our life.
How did your dream evolve or change as you worked towards your goal?
In a way, the dream didn’t evolve too much. I had a fuzzy idea of what I would like about working remotely, but that became more clear after I began discussing the option with my management. It went from a vague image to a sharp, clear picture of what I would need to do to make a remote arrangement work well.
What is your life like now? What have you learned since reaching this dream?
I am a bit over a year into my new arrangement and I really enjoy it! I am able to spend more time with my family in the morning and evenings, I can help keep costs down by cooking more and avoiding typical “office work fees” (commuting, office wardrobe, lunches out, etc.), and I can focus in on projects a bit better without some of the office distractions.
One thing that surprised me quite a bit was my need for social interaction. Sure, I might spend the entire day on the phone in various meetings, but I needed to spend time with others in “real life” too! I quickly realized that I needed a consistent reason to get out of the house and see others, so I joined a weekly group in our local town and I make a point of setting up time to see others on a regular basis.
Do you have any regrets or things you would do differently?
I don’t think I have regrets, but I do miss aspects of the office and I have to remind myself of the great benefits of working remotely at times. Working from home can be lonely and isolating, but it has been an incredibly positive change overall.
What would you say to someone who wants to do what you did?
While transitioning to a remote office is an excellent benefit, it is not for everyone. The obvious one is that there are some jobs that are not conducive for remote environments. But there are also other downsides like being “out of the loop” a bit since I am not in the office. It was worth it to me overall, but I miss many aspects of the office and office life.
I would encourage anyone considering remote work to think through the day to day… Where and how will you set up your work space? How will you secure your work data? How will you cope with long, lonely days? How will you stay connected with your manager and colleagues? How will your family be affected by you working from home?
Also, I would see if there is a way to “test drive” a remote office to see if you like the set-up long term. If your employer allows it, maybe work a few days a month or even take a whole week/month of working remotely before you decide to make it a permanent arrangement. This will help you see if the remote work lifestyle is compatible with your working style.
Another Dream Begins
We never stop dreaming and growing. What’s your next freedom dream?
Oh, so many freedom dreams! At the moment, I love my job and my situation working remotely. But I reserve the right to change my opinion and direction, so I would like to save for future opportunities. If the need arises, I want to be able to take a lesser paying job I will enjoy more, move to part-time, or pursue entrepreneurship. I do not currently have a plan for any of these options, but I want the flexibility to change my mind.
How are you planning on achieving this new dream?
Right now, being in a sound financial scenario is the best way for my husband and I to ensure our dream of being flexible and being able to make the best decision for our life separate from the strict dollars and cents considerations. To that end, we work hard to automate our savings, invest wisely, and live below our means in order to create the option to seize opportunities that may come our way in the future!
Thank you to Mrs. AR for sharing her story. We love that she is able create a work life balance by “going to work” and “going home” while working from home. We also love the advice to experiment with working from home! It can be a great way to get an employer on board and allow to you try it out! We wish Mrs. AR and her family the best and look forward to seeing what the future brings in their journey.
Do you have a freedom story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Submit your story here!