The coronavirus pandemic absolutely changed the game when thinking about your usual working week and structure. In a pre-pandemic world, remote working was seen as a rarity and a luxury only a few jobs offered. It was actually one of the ‘selling’ points for many PhDs, as conducting research enables you to pick your own schedule (to some extent) and the ability to set up an office almost anywhere. We all worked in random coffee shops from time to time. However, this is no longer a ‘nice to have’ as it’s transitioned into more of a ‘working standard’, or at least it’s substantially easier to find in the wider job market.
As mentioned above, it’s common place for many PhDs to be conducting their research remotely, on a work-from home basis. In fact, the PhD can be quite a difficult one to get into the rhythm of during your first year as there’s so little structure. This can be where poor time management and the lack of boundaries comes from as it makes it hard to know how to organise your day and appropriately separate work from play. It’s also one of the big challenges when adjusting to a standard 9-5 if you do decide to take the jump after your final year. But nonetheless, when we get the remote working set up right it enables us to have flexible work schedules, dynamic work routines, and some freedom to customise these hours how we want. This is definitely the case for non-STEM PhDs. It’s maybe less easy to build a flexible schedule if you have mice or cells to feed at random hours (if you know you know).
With these positives in mind, there’s no reason why they can’t continue in the world of work post-PhD. Remote working falls into a nice bucket of what we like to call ‘lifestyle design’, or at least it can be a great asset to have when we think about our life values. To be specific, having a job that enables you to work remotely is likely to yield a range of advantages such as; flexible hours, less time commuting, saved expenses, a healthier lifestyle, navigating child care, and so forth. Working remotely is a massive company perk that gives you more time which you can fill with something impactful, productive and healthy. In fact, it would be a massive disservice if you didn’t.
Not having to commute due to remote working is likely to give you back around an hour to four hours a day. This time can then be used for a range of benefits to really maximise this ‘luxury’. If you choose to get up at the same time as if you were commuting, you can then use this time to look after your health. Engaging in mindfulness, reflecting on your past week, seeing a therapist, reading around personal development, starting a blog, going for a morning jog, cooking a wholesome breakfast, engaging in morning self-care and just taking better care of yourself (and yes maybe getting in an extra hour or two sleeping counts as well). Doing these daily is going to be a transformative experience that changes your quality of life.
But the perks don’t stop there. You could use this time to focus on a different dimension of your life, perhaps your hobbies or your side passion (or passions – plural). Using that extra time in the morning (or evening) to focus on that dream clothing line you wanted to make, , starting a blog you haven’t found the time for, creating a podcast, launching a business, juggling a bit of consultancy/free-lance work on the side, engaging in charity work, being a mentor, you name it. Here you’re able to maximise and live out your life values further – being impactful in a way that is important to you.
Of course, we can keep going and going, there’s scope to work remotely abroad – this can be an effective way to travel whilst also being more feasible as you’re not necessarily taking holidays to do it. You may be able to squeeze in more holidays than usual because of this, or all the money you’re not spending on commuting can create a nice little holiday fund. Or maybe you want to explore investing more, recoup the time lost on your pension, dabble in the stock market, begin to think about saving for a house – you name it.
Remote working is a small adjustment to your day-to-day that, but if used purposefully and deliberately, the impact it could have on the quality of your life is incomprehensible. We often advocate moving towards your full potential and having more hours in the day is one of the core ingredients needed to do that. Remember when we used to go into the office five days a week? How strange that feels now?
All in all, remote working is a vehicle to help you improve the quality of your life in any way you want. Sure, socialising and networking is super important, but you can build that into your work routine, opt for a hybrid working model, or possibly even join social clubs with all this extra free time you have! If you really want to take your remote working to the next level, check out the four hour work week by Tim Ferris. Great read, and some real gems in there when thinking about remote working and how to optimise it for your life goals.
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