In a day or so, I’ll have spent two weeks living the life of a fully-vaccinated member of society. While it’s not true to say my risk of catching Covid-19 is now non-existent, the facts are there’s statistically low risk—and even if I did somehow catch the bug and begin showing symptoms, they’d likely be mild.
So that, combined with the CDC here in America basically opening everything up for the “maxinated” populace, combined with summer fast approaching, I have embarked on a series of changes to how I do business. Spending 10-hour days in a corner of my bedroom week after week just ain’t gonna fly.
Change #1: WABH (Work-Anywhere-But-Home) Fridays
The first thing I did was create a recurring schedule on my calendar so that every Friday, I won’t work from home. While most coffee shops in and around Portland haven’t yet switched back to indoor seating, there are increasingly plenty of places you can find to settle with laptop in tow—especially when the weather outside is quite nice as it usually is now.
Simply having this on my calendar reminds me to make the effort to get up from my home office chair and go do something. There’s still a touch of low-grade social anxiety and general nervousness of engaging in “digital nomadism”, so it’s helpful to have that persistent nudge of the calendar…otherwise the old routine of slouching at my desk drinking orange juice and wearing PJs is just too tempting.
Change #2: Looks Like Coworking’s Back on the Menu, Boys!
Building upon WABH Fridays, I have purchased a membership at a coworking space. WUT 😱
Yes indeed, after 14 months of working full-time in a corner of my bedroom, it was finally time to venture forth and rekindle my love of honest-to-goodness office space for remote workers.
Before the pandemic hit, I was never a proponent of working from “home” per se. I was rather a major proponent of remote work. Those two are not synonymous! I think it’s crucial that people have a place they go to work. There are challenges which stem from having a creative workspace be a 10-second bathrobe-and-slippers shuffle away from where you sleep, watch TV, have sex, clip toenails, and whatever things people do in homes. Now I’m not throwing shade at WFH. Obviously we’ve all found ways to make this work! And compared with a long commute to corporate HQ and dealing with the horrors of open-office-planning run amok, it does come with some real upsides. (Quite honestly I’m flabbergasted at the number of companies ready to jump back into butts-in-chairs office attendance when WFH culture has proven itself to be remarkably productive!)
Nevertheless, if you can find coworking spaces or digital nomad-friendly environments only a short walk/bike/scooter/drive away from where you live, that is truly ideal. Because when it’s time to go to work, you can actually go there (instead of staying here). Simply the act of changing scenes and interacting with humans beyond your immediate pod wakes up your brain and helps you recharge and focus. And for those of us who are self-employed, it can really help make our businesses feel legit.
Change #3: Living the Nomad Dream Once Again
Even with everything opening up again, family and financial obligations prevent me from just packing a suitcase, buying a van, and hitting the road for good. (And, to be honest, I’m not sure that’s a lifestyle I want!)
However, I absolutely believe that a life well-lived has travel fully integrated into it. Regular working vacations—at least once a month—was something I was starting to bake into my route right before Covid-19 put the kibosh on it. In particular, you can drive from Portland to Seattle in about three hours, and I’ve only scratched the surface of the entire Puget Sound area.
So…now that I’ve purchased a coworking membership at SPACES (the place I mentioned above), not only do I have a place to go to work here in Portland but I can also travel to Seattle or hundreds of cities around the globe in the coming months as international travel picks up.
Can’t you just work at your hotel when on the road? you may ask. And trust me, I’ve asked that question myself. But remember what I said above? Your creative workspace should feel separate from the place where you plop down at the end of a long day and drink a glass of Pinot.
Thus a couple-hundred bucks a month for a passport to digital nomadism in some of the most stunning locations on earth sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
(Quick aside: when I first heard of WeWork years ago, I naturally assumed that’s exactly what it was. You’d buy a membership and then freely work at any of their locations—like a gym but for remote work. However, that’s not actually what they were doing! Only in the past year did WeWork start offering plans suitable for travelers, and even so it’s still more expensive and more limited than SPACES’ offering. Also the guy who started—and nearly ruined—WeWork is a massive asshat. So boo.)
I realize new travel and coworking expenses aren’t going to be feasible for everyone. And let’s be honest: digital nomadism always carried with it a tinge of techno-utopian privilege. Still, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to spend a few days here and there working beyond the confines of one’s own place of residence. If we’re fortunate enough to be able to do work that can be done anywhere with WiFi, why not take advantage of that ability?
One Step at a Time
I’m excited about the future possibilities which await us remote workers now that the science and the evidence shows us we can beat this virus. Sure, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, and I’m prepared for the reality there may be some degree of lockdown measures in store down the road (perhaps a new variant will temporarily outstrip vaccine progress). But it truly feels like we’ve turned a corner—in the U.S. at least—and I greatly appreciate being able to plop down in a chair with a laptop, sip on a latte, and bang out some code—all while not staring at the four walls of my humble abode.