Mr. Bear and Mrs. Cat are both quite comfortable working from home. When we bought our first home we made sure it was big enough for both of us to have adequate and private space to work outside of the general living area. We both committed years ago to never work from our laptops in bed or to set up shop on the kitchen table. Having segregated boundaries between work-life and home-life have proven so important to achieving and maintaining a healthy balance.
We both have worked from home varying amounts throughout our career and also had the experience of needing to travel extensively and regularly for work. Mr. Bear has done big city commutes by car and public transit, stretching from 40 minutes to 2 hours or more each way. Mrs. Cat commuted via airplane for her job at one point, spending as much as 75% of her time on the road. As our careers have shifted and refined over the years, we’ve seen technology allow us to effectively work remotely more and more and we decided that it would be exactly the direction we would want to go in the long term if we had our choice so we made every effort to make it happen.
At this point in our career, we’ve both settled into the idea that any trade-offs associated with working from home as much as possible are worth it, even if it amounts to less career options or money. Mr. Bear had been commuting to Boston 2-3 days a week for the past year and just recently switched jobs to a 100% remote job. So now Mr. Bear and Mrs. Cat both work from home 100% and are very relieved going forward about that.
It is important to highlight that we are grateful for the privilege we’ve found ourselves in to have strong careers that afford us lifestyle flexibility. While we both had to work at goal, we know it’s not possible for everyone and that in this world, many things could change for us that would cause us to need to commute again. We’d always do what needs to be done for our family, but thought we’d highlight why we believe in remote work so strongly.
Less Exposure to Potential Coronavirus
This is the topic on everyone’s minds right now. It’s amazing that so many businesses which really don’t actually need people in the office have been hesitant to allow their employees to work from home. I assume it’s a culture of control issues more than anything, or maybe trying to save face in uncertain economic times at the expense of their employees health and safety.. Some jobs do just require you to go in though and we get that and hope for the safety of those who truly don’t have a choice about needing to go to work, namely medical professionals, school teachers and many public sector employees.
Granted, not going into the office does not mean you will avoid all potential exposure to getting sick - if you have kids in daycare or school, have go shopping or other obvious risk factors remain as well. Aside from an all-out quarantine, there’s always going to be risk.
Car commuting is dangerous no matter what motor vehicle you’re in. This is not hyperbolic! Driving accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. aside from heart attacks, smoking, cancer using drugs and drinking to excess. Whether putting around town or using the highway, spending time on the roads means you will more than likely wind up in a motor vehicle accident sooner or later and having an expensive repair bill is the absolute best case scenario you’re looking at.
Besides the risk of being injured in your car, there are long tail health risks of commuting as well which are well documented. Sitting at your desk all day obviously isn’t healthy, but actually getting to and from that desk could be even worse.
Mrs. Cat and I actively looked for a house in a walkable neighborhood when we moved back to Central Massachusetts. While our city is not famous for being walkable, we got in about the best area possible for that ideal and for whatever we cannot walk to, things we need like groceries, doctors, etc are quite close. We even went down to just one car as a family because we want to de-prioritize driving as much as possible as a family. Long-story short, the less time you can spend in a car, the better.
A bad commute can ruin your day. String enough of them together, day after day, week after week and your mental health will deteriorate. The physical risks we all know about of getting in an accident, being exposed to pollution, or being crammed uncomfortably on a packed train or bus take a toll, but the effects of dreading this situation goes beyond the physical effects.
It seems like throughout the United States at least that commute times are getting worse. Cities become denser, more businesses locate there, costs of living go up and people move further away from the city to afford their lifestyle, which also increases their commute. So much of this seems to correlate to the road rage being more prevalent as well.
There are lots of motivations related to why we work and what we’re willing to sacrifice for our jobs. Some of us love our careers and the passion surrounding it drives us. But for many of us, working to provide for our families is what is underlying our motivations. Maintaining income to provide the basics for our loved ones is a powerful driver, which is ironic that in our day and age that we spend so much time away from our families away from working and our careers can have a negative effect on our home lives in the long-run.
Even though we both work from home full time and our Little Bear still goes to daycare up the street during the week, we’re still able to efficiently manage our days between work and family life much better and without as much stress without dealing with a commute.
We often think about the cost of not commuting amounting to a decrease in earning potential or a glass ceiling to your career. Maybe it’s true that if you’re not in the office there’s a greater chance you’ll be passed up for promotions or raises. However, the way that we like to think of it is that even if your salary as a remote worker is slightly less than if you were an in-office employee, if you add up the amount of time actually commuting and traveling for work, which you don’t get paid extra for, you’re definitely coming out on top.
The smart way to work is to get paid for your work transactionally and that no side gives or received value unfairly. This means that when you eliminate hours of travel to and from a workplace each week, those hours are freed up both for your own productivity and enjoyment. Everybody wins.
Also, think about those side-hustle ideas you feel like you don’t have time for. Cut a commute out of your life, now you have a lot more free time to do with what you wish, whether it be relax, workout, get a new hobby or increase your income towards the goal of financial independence!
But Working From Home Isn’t For Everyone
This post is not meant to shame readers who can’t ever work from home or who don’t want to. There are plenty of ways to make a commute fit into your lifestyle. We wanted to share our reasons for why we choose to work this way despite temptations of more money or greater career glory.
What motivates you in your decision to work from home or not?
Have you ever thought of working from home but can’t figure out how to make it work?