Cathy Colliver
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Marketing & MBA

My current company, Test Double, was 100% remote from the start 10 years ago. This was long before it was either fashionable or necessary. I haven’t always worked remotely, but I’ve also experienced almost every type of hybrid iteration:

  • Many regional offices and reported to owner in another city 
  • One office split into a sales office and a production office in same city and report to sales leaders but work with production
  • A corporation where I started in same office as everyone on my team
  • Moved to a different local team, but connected more often with peers across the United States
  • Shifted to national team spread across United States + didn’t meet my boss in person for eight months
  • Shifted from the office five days a week to everyone works from home whenever it’s convenient

After years of different office environments, I will always pick remote from now on. Here’s why.

Commutes are awful

Seriously, who missed their commute during the pandemic? I live in Louisville, KY, which is not exactly an awful place for traffic. One day Louisville decided to change that. We built two bridges across the Ohio River while redoing the entire downtown interchange of three major interstates. Not awesome.

As a working parent, it’s not only the commute itself. Dropping off and picking up kids by 6 p.m. while working in the office from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. is a sometimes impossible task. The next time you see a working parent looking nervous when they leave the office after 5 p.m., give them grace.

More time gives you a breather

Look, we’re all human, and more time is amazing.

To achieve the kids’ drop-off routine, we had to leave the house between 7 a.m. (working downtown) and 7:30 a.m. (closer to home). If I wanted to exercise, shower, get the kids going, pack lunches, breakfast, etc.? That was a 5 a.m. wake up, and a marathon each day with almost no time to myself. When I was still nursing and pumping? I don’t even want to talk about those days.

Now? Well, I still get up at 5:30 a.m. most weekdays (let’s be real, not every day) so I can exercise and make sure the 6th grader gets up with his 6 a.m. alarm. After I say goodbye to him at 6:55 a.m. (thank you for school buses), I have a relatively leisurely hour while the third grader gets going. Some days I drink coffee and read the news. Sometimes I read a book. Other days I start a load of laundry or vacuum, because there is always more laundry and dog hair piling up.

Unrushed mornings are like a gift each day. And it’s so much more pleasant when we hit the inevitable, “Oh, we forgot your teacher emailed a permission slip. Let’s fill that out so you can turn it in.” When you’re not already rushing, the “life happens” moments don’t feel so stressful.

Balance is key to kicking guilt to the curb

One of the things I realized during the pandemic is how much working parent guilt has got to go. 

Being a working parent is a slog in good circumstances. When you’re stressed about a global health crisis, and your little people are trying to figure out virtual school, you get some added perspective. 

The benefits of balance are not exclusive to working parents. We all feel some pressure from figuring out hours spent on work vs. hours spent on personal life. It shouldn’t make you feel guilty.

Impromptu breaks unlock problem solving and creativity

In marketing, I do a lot of problem-solving. It can feel draining, and your brain gets a little mushy. That’s when you know you need a break. And a break away from screens is a perfect way to un-mush your brain.

I also do a lot of creative and design-focused work, even though I’m not a writer or designer. Creative blockers especially benefit from a complete change of scenery and action. So I’ll take the dog outside and walk around the yard, or go pick asparagus from the garden before it gets too tall.

Giving yourself time and space away from problems lets you do a couple of things. It gives you a fresh perspective helps you view problems from a different angle. It helps your unconscious processing to loosen up a memory or applicable piece of information. And you’re less likely to avoid reaching for the first or easiest solution.

Taking a break and then revisiting the problem allows you to try something different.

Working remotely can unlock work-life balance

Working remotely is like a gift of convenience, with less stress and more balance. You can enjoy more time outside of work for the things that matter to you. When done right, remote work can also feel super supportive, but that’s another blog.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Cathy Colliver is a marketing director at Test Double, a software consulting agency building great software and great teams. She loves simplifying challenges and focusing on the humans behind the screens. Cathy’s work includes both technical (email code, martech, analytics) and creative (content, storytelling), and her career has spanned theatres, an insurance brokerage, a marketing agency and a publicly-traded news company. She has volunteered with Stage One Family Theatre, Jefferson County Public Schools, and the Courier Journal Editorial Board.

How do you feel about remote working and why? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!