The Mostly Ups and Some Downs of Remote or Online Work

After I turned my back on the corporate/BPO world way back in 2006, I told myself I would never work in an office environment ever again. It was a decision inspired by my hatred for office drama and my need for independence. Little did I know that work-from-home jobs would become more commonplace than ever before. After what felt like years of navigating the remote and online scene, where I tried new ways of working and always fought for balance between work and life, here I am, loving every second. Taking that plunge was so worth it!

The institutions of two decades ago molded us into employees, never pushing us to become entrepreneurs. After trying in-person office work, it just didn't feel "right" for my mental well-being. I had grown tired of commuting, of weird shifts, of annoying co-workers, of funky office smells, and of picking out my clothes (because we didn't have a uniform). So, I decided right then and there that I would pursue work-from-home opportunities, allowing me to blaze my own trail while basking in the freedom of working remotely. It may have been a risky move then, but it certainly paid off.

For more than the past decade and a half, I have been able to work anywhere, anytime, while lounging in my PJs as long as I meet my deadlines. With the work flexibility, part of me feels like I’d already won. I know some people who have tried this setup feel lonely and disconnected, but that was never the case for me. I loved working without someone breathing down my neck. I enjoyed the fact that I didn't need to exchange pleasantries with someone I couldn't care less to talk to. Who needs office dramas when you can marathon K-drama, J-dorama, and anime all day, every day, during your free time?

Of course, working from home isn't for everyone. Ask any social butterfly just dying to put on their best work attire with makeup and get out of the house every day, or someone who craves connection with people and gossips like there's no tomorrow. For me, nothing beats the freedom and autonomy that working from home brings. Not even my MAC Ruby Woo lipstick nor my Doc Martens boots. Although remote work also has its own set of challenges, for example, staying motivated and productive all day, every day is an art in itself, it requires discipline and dedication to work through distractions and stay on track with your goals.

Then again, here are the benefits I found when working remotely: 
  • You can take care of personal business during the day without using vacation time. As long as you work flexible hours, you can do your own thing! 
  • As above, you can work any time of the day or night that fits your schedule. Find a client who will let you work on your hours. Each individual is different. Some like routine, some don't. Some are morning persons, while others are night owls. I think everyone should take a DISC Assessment test to find out what type of personality or work is suited for you or take the 16 Personalities test. Here are my results:

  • You can avoid rush hour traffic and save on commuting costs. 100%, absolutely true. Not that there's crazy traffic in Ormoc, but when I was living in Cebu and had to drive all the way to Mactan for work – ugh, no, thank you. Never again.
  • No need for expensive office attire or equipment. The office attire, you just need a blazer or a business top for when attending online meetings. But the computers are non-negotiable. You have to have at least a fast and functional one that doesn't give you headaches. Of course, it depends on the job that you're doing. For example, video editing, then you need a powerful one if you want to finish fast and have time to binge on that K-drama... or do both at the same time if you're a rockstar multitasker!
  • Like I said earlier, you can work in your PJs, if you so choose. Yes to PAJAMAS!!! I probably have a month's worth of sleepwear accumulated by now so that I don't have to do laundry very much.
  • Most of all, you can earn as much as you want as a freelancer. You just need time management, and sky's the limit! 

How to Stay Productive When Working from Home 

Working from home can be lonely and isolating, especially if you're not used to it. Some people, especially when they transitioned to a work-from-home setup during the pandemic, felt it to be challenging. If I were offered a corporate job, even if it paid handsomely, I don't think I'd want to go for it. You just can't replace the freedom of making your own schedule and doing your work without being micromanaged.

Here are some tips I can share with anyone who's still struggling to work from home:

  • Set a schedule and stick to it.
This creates a sense of normalcy and routine, which can be helpful when working from home. Having a set schedule can also help you stay focused and productive.
  • Make a list of things you need to get done each day.
This can help you stay organized and on track. It can also help you to be more productive and focused. Ticking off tasks can give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It can also help you to stay motivated and organized.
  • Create a designated workspace.
This will help you to stay organized and focused. You can set up a desk in a quiet room in your house or use a co-working space. Make sure that your workspace is comfortable and has everything you need, including a good internet connection.
  • Take regular breaks.
It allows you to refresh your mind and stay focused. When you're taking a break, you can step away from your work and do something else, such as stretching, going for a walk, or reading. This can help you come back to your work with fresh eyes.
  • Stay connected with friends and family.
This can help you to feel supported and motivated. You can stay connected with friends and family by talking to them on the phone, texting them, or using social media.
  • Set boundaries.
Make sure that people know your "working hours" so you won't be disturbed and can work faster and more efficiently. By being focused, you get to finish quicker and have more "me" time. I admit I struggle with this because a lot of things come up during the day when I'm supposed to be resting, and people still think because I work from home, they can call me anytime they want, which is wrong because it's technically my workplace and people need to respect that I have real work to do.

Working from home definitely has its perks, but it can also be difficult to stay focused and productive if you're not used to it. These tips should help anyone struggling to work from home get into a routine and stay on track. The bottom line is don't forget to take breaks, connect with friends and family, and set boundaries so you can focus on your work.

It can be a challenge at first, but with a little bit of adjustment, you'll get into a groove and be able to accomplish great things. I wish everyone the best of luck in their remote work endeavors!

You can do this! 

Maria Franco