It’s been two full weeks since I began working remotely on the road. I have been accustomed to working in a remote culture over the last 6 years, but always had a home base with reliable cable internet. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. Is my internet going to be reliable? Will I be able to focus? What would my co-workers or clients think if they knew I was homeless?
First, I’m not homeless. I’m houseless. There’s a big difference, but it’s hard for people to understand. It’s not considered normal. Then again, when have I ever been normal? It’s just easier to avoid the conversation as a whole because people tend to think we’re on some kind of permanent vacation. We’re not. Every day I get up at 7am, walk the dog and make coffee. I sit down, boot up and check my email. For the next 9 hours I plug away, chatting with clients, collaborating with co-workers and making techie things do stuff. It’s no different than sitting in the office in my concrete block house, except maybe I have LESS distractions now. I’m more relaxed, I’m happier and it’s easier for me to focus on getting my work done. It’s also nice that I have to walk the dog because I get structured breaks and make sure I get up and go out during my lunch break. On Wednesday, I took a late lunch and we met up with Mike & Deb to have ice cream by the pool! When I was in the house, I would leave the back door open for the dog to come and go and I never got up from my desk. Even after my workday was done I would sit for hours at my computer. The first week we were on the road, I walked nearly 20 miles! I’m definitely getting out more which is good for my health and my sanity!
My biggest concern has been internet and it has proven to be a valid concern. It’s actually been LESS reliable than I expected. There is so much traffic on the tower that it is causing some major slowdowns during peak times. I damn near had a heart attack when my download speed dropped to .05 Mbps during a phone conference. At the same time, it gave me more confidence knowing that I can survive without 75 Mbps down! We are absolutely looking into more backup solutions now. We have a fantastic Verizon vendor and we have tested our jetpack over the last 6 months but the amount of surrounding RVs using Verizon is disconcerting when it comes to sharing the bandwith. We have a strong signal and in the middle of the night I get nearly 30Mbps down…but 2-3 times a day it slows to a crawl. On average during the day, I’m getting 8-10Mbps down and during peak times I’m getting around 2. I’m not 100% comfortable with that. I get by and I haven’t had an issue working…but I don’t like having to worry about it. We’ve got a hookup for an AT&T line and we’re going to look into it to supplement our Verizon. All in all though, the two weeks went by without a hitch on connection. The only thing I have not done was a video conference, but I video conferenced from the RV in our driveway for 3 days prior to our departure and it was fine with our Verizon Jetpack.
Another concern I’d like to address is personal space and distractions. We worked really hard to set up a good space with custom built furniture in the RV so that I have a dedicated workspace. I have my two machines, dual monitors and plenty of room to get my work done. It has been really great for both of us. Bear has his space and I have mine. We throw on our noise-cancelling headphones and we can both work in peace as if the other wasn’t even there. Distractions have been a minimum and have proven to not be a concern for me. Right now Eryk is here all day but he’s busy working on the RV and fixing bicycles and doing his own thing. Come June, he will be working a 9-5 just like me and I’ll be alone all day with the dog and my work. Life will be back to some normalcy for a while, except with a better view.
Overall, working on the road for two weeks has had less distractions, less stress and more productivity. Internet makes me a little anxious, but I am working on a backup. It’s been very stressful for me because all of this…everything…our entire life on the road…hinges on me working remotely. Yes, we have an emergency fund and yes there are plenty of other options out there…but I love my job. I love my company and I love what I do. I really want this to work out and so far it’s been good. I feel comfortable, I’m getting my work done and I’m happy. I’m so very happy. It’s been so nice to get off work and go explore, I never did that in the house. When I got off work at home I just sat there glued to my computer. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything, maybe once in a while I took the dog for a walk down by the canal a block away. Now we walk just shy of a mile first thing in the morning and then another for lunch and a few short walks sprinkled in between. I’m sure that is a major contribution to less stress. Less stress = more productive.
I’ve worked remote for a long time…now I’m just really remote!