As a remote worker things will go wrong at some point. I am not being pessimistic; it is simply that problems come along at all times in our lives and we have to deal with them. The same will happen when you are working remotely, only the nature of your new remote setting may make these problems feel magnified.
In the past you may have had people in the office to help you deal with work problems. You’ve probably had a support network (in the form of family and friends) to help you out with problems outside of work. These networks are now gone and experiencing problems may feel very different as a result of this. Like being on a road trip, far from anywhere, and your car breaks down – you have to fix it. There is no tow service available, you can’t call Dad to come and pick you up. You have to deal with it.
For my family, our introduction to this new chapter in our lives could not have gone better but we were about to hit our first major problem that would change things dramatically. Not long after leaving England for the shores of Australia we discovered that a family member had taken our life savings without our knowledge and lost it in a bad investment. I, my wife and our 3 kids had arrived on the other side of the world, and discovered that we were stone broke!
Making remote working a success became more important than ever and, on top of the short term challenges, we had to try and establish some longer term goals in order to adapt and survive in these new circumstances. We found a tiny dilapidated property that we could buy, with a huge mortgage. The idea was that we could renovate it and then move on from there.
For a long time I was filled with rage and a sense of injustice of what had happened to us. My pride had been hurt and I felt responsible for everybody. I awoke each morning to see our kids covered in sweat and insect bites from the holes in the roof and my heart would break.
‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ and we started dealing with it. Working at home during the day the temperatures got up to nearly fifty degrees and one day I sat and watched a thick candle melt away over the course of my working day. On another occasion I felt something on my leg and looked down to see a deadly spider on me. This was not something I had been used to dealing with in the London office.
When we weren’t busy working we were renovating. We made tree swings, tree-houses, patio areas and pretty soon the garden was looking like a bush paradise. Every member of our family joined in to the big adventure of making a home out of this wild piece of unloved land. We were all mucking in and working together to move ourselves forward. It was fun. I was pushing the kids around in the wheel barrow, they were filthy most of the time, they carried rocks, painted walls and, when they weren’t helping, they climbed trees and played in the sand. We had never been so proud of our family.
We were dealing with the problem that had been presented to us, but the process of dealing with it taught us so much more. We have wonderful memories of that house where we were always busy; playing or working until we all dropped exhausted at the end of the day.
We took on the house that nobody wanted and turned it in to something that people did want – and we did it together. We sold that house and could afford to move to something big enough for us all (with an actual home office), and we have lived there ever since.