The Perks and Pitfalls of Working Remotely

How to get by, with a little help from your co-workers

Since last September, I've worked remotely between two countries and five cities. The perks of working from afar and from home go without saying—pants are optional, and if you don't mind doing work alone it can be incredibly productive. But I never dreamed of having a satellite office in my kitchen. 

Let's go back.

"We're moving to Canada," I was informed on a Wednesday last July. It was July 4, to be specific,, the one day a year when I finally make peace with hot dogs and being American. But instead, I was wrapping my head around the news that my boyfriend's job had relocated him to a new country—one that sells milk in bags, no less. 

My first thought was my job. How could I keep it? I'd worked at the same Brooklyn-based agency, Big Spaceship, since 2015. I'd started as an intern and worked my way to copywriter and had no intention of leaving the people and place I loved. As far as agencies go, Big Spaceship is sort of the best. There's dogs, great people and challenging work. It's small enough to feel a sense of community and big enough to always find new connections. 

So I called my boss. 

After some consideration and extreme compassion he said, "Yes! We can make this work." I told you, this place is special. We agreed that for projects and client relationships to stay on track, I'd return to the office once a month. 

As a copywriter, most of my work can be done online. But as a human, working remotely felt like it could be … lonely. Luckily, I've learned to love the quiet days at home just as much as I love returning to New York. 

For those of you thinking about relocating, here are some of the things I've learned along the way: 

Background noise is your friend.

Working in an office, I took the music and murmurs for granted. White noise is my thing. A grumpy old radiator? Best friends. A loud fan? We're dating.  

Silence … creeps me out. I didn't realize how quiet it would be. In the woods. At night. So I'd put on one of my favorite podcasts (Seek Treatment with Cat & Pat, it's hilarious) and get to work. 

Go outside.

This one is pretty simple, but when it's 5 p.m. and you haven't been outside yet, you will feel very sad. Even if you just walk around your driveway. Be the driveway lady. 

Figure out the WiFi.

Gotta get WiFi. Sounds simple, right? Nope. Trying to take advantage of the above bullet, I'd head to cafés. But you gotta call ahead.* Sometimes the WiFi is down, or sometimes it's still on that dialup and you won't be able to open a deck without melting your computer. If there's a GIF in there, forget about it. 

*My first day in Providence, we didn't have WiFi set up in our apartment yet, so I headed to a coffee shop for a call. Oh, how naive I was. Turns out, we'd moved to the middle of a college campus where any WiFi is reserved for students. So with absolutely no chill I asked a student for her name and ID number so I could pirate some internet. Am I proud of it? Hardly. Did I make the call? Barely. 

Get feedback.

Trying to be creative when you're working solo is tricky, especially when you're used to bouncing ideas off of anyone within a 10-foot radius. As I write this, the only things nearby are a plant and a trash can ... not the best for feedback. 

When I'm in a creative rut, or just want to brainstorm, I'll check with a co-worker and book a room for them at the office so we can hop on a call in a quiet place. When that's not an option, I like to walk away from what I'm working on and return to it later in the day. After an hour or two, I return with a fresh perspective and a clear head. 

Make those trips back. 

Every time I come back to the city, I look forward to it. Seeing co-workers, being in person, eating all the office snacks. It re-energizes me and reminds me why, after all the TSA lines and travel, this is all worth it. 

Being remote works for me because of the people I work with. They are patient when my WiFi is spotty and supportive when I'm experiencing cabin fever. Without them, this wouldn't work. 

Oh, one last thing—there's a lot of back and forth, so get TSA pre-check. No one wants to see your feet. 

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Kacy Emmett
Kacy Emmett is senior copywriter and content strategist at Big Spaceship.

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