By Stephanie Smith
In late 2018, I was an editor at a major New York media company when my husband and I decided to move to the Dominican Republic. My husband suggested I ask my employer if I could work remotely. “You can write from anywhere,” he said.
My then boss, who had worked at several international advertising firms, was hopeful I’d continue working for the company as a remote employee. But the old school executive team to whom my boss reported said I was only eligible for employment if I lived where the company had an office. I severed ties with that job shortly after I moved.
Fast forward to 2020. Coronavirus forced people into quarantine. Companies closed their offices and employees worked from home full time. Many employers found their employees were just as productive, if not more so, out of the office than they were at their desks. Sure it’s trickier to manage boundaries or burnout given the increased flexibility (and stress of working during a global pandemic) of remote work. But studies have shown that remote employees are generally happier. I’m one of them–since going remote last year, I’m doing work I always dreamed of, and work when and how I want, like when my daughter is asleep or occupied. Our family spends more time together, and I am way less stressed than I was when I worked in corporate America–even during a pandemic.
Going remote presents better opportunities to live and work on your terms–especially for Black women. Without an office to be tethered to, you can choose to live in lower-cost areas, or closer to family, or in the country, or outside of the country–countries like Barbados and Bermuda offering temporary work visas to entice remote workers, hoping to jumpstart tourism lost during the pandemic.
With no commute, you reclaim time you would have spent going to work to actually work. Or spend more time with your family. That’s especially helpful for women, who are often primary child rearers or responsible for the care of an elder or parent, and balancing work with these responsibilities..
The more workers go remote, the more it forces recruiters to look outside of their typical networks for highly skilled employees. A recent article in Fast Company argued companies will expand their recruiting circles to be less location-focused and more skills-focused as remote work becomes standard and more highly skilled employees move out of large corporate hubs. This, coupled with a demand for companies to increase diversity in the workplace, may allow for more Black women to be seen by more employers for higher-paying work.
Want to quit the corporate grind altogether? Starting a business has never been cheaper. If your business hires mostly remote workers, no need to look for office space (or office furniture), and you can source vendors and workers in lower-cost areas. Female founders, especially black women, found it difficult to get funding during the boom times–in 2019, less than 3 percent of VC funding went to female-led companies. Now, entrepreneurs may not need as much capital to launch. Your biggest investment might be in internet bandwidth and technology.
Companies have already said working remotely will be a part of their future corporate cultures. Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter have all said their employees can WFH for the rest of the year–Twitter has said some of its employees can work from home indefinitely.
In addition to me working from home, my husband works for a company whose entire employee base works remotely. We’re both on conference calls all day, and we split hours with our daughter in between. But we’re both fulfilled, working in a place we both chose to live, with beautiful views, fresh air, and a lower cost of living. Going remote allowed us to recalibrate our work-life balance. Now, instead of living to work, work is a part of our well-rounded happy lives. And that’s the best type of work we’ve ever had.
Have you gone remote, either by choice or by necessity? Have you thought about going remote? What fears or hopes do you have about going remote? Leave your comment below!