Why I Work Remotely (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With Productivity)
Why I Work Remotely (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With Productivity)
By Jason Zimdars / m.signalvnoise.com
Jan 28, 2016

These are some of the things I can do because I’m fortunate to work for a company that lets me work from anywhere:

  • Hug my kids and feed them breakfast before they leave for school in the morning.
  • Greet and make a snack for them when they get home; hear all about their day.
  • Work from my favorite coffee shop.
  • Spend a week with the whole Basecamp team in our Chicago office.
  • Spend a week with my team in sunny Austin, TX (while it’s -2ºF in Chicago).
  • Run an errand for a friend.
  • Walk my dogs.
  • Work with a friend.
  • Care for a sick child without taking a sick day myself.

After you’ve read all the books and articles about keeping on-task when working from home, setting up the perfect home office, avoiding loneliness, staying connected, sidestepping distractions, and avoiding interruptions I’d suggest one thing: embrace interruptions.

Maybe this isn’t the way of MAXIMUM IN-THE-ZONE PRODUCTIVITY but as my kids have gotten older and the days are fast approaching where they’ll be off on their own I’ve tried to be open to those interruptions.

For example, my son usually goes right for my office when he gets home in the afternoon, standing with me at my desk rattling on about his day oblivious that he might be interrupting. I do my best (and sometimes it’s really hard) to stop what I’m doing, turn to him and be present. How many more of those conversations will there be? I’ll take every one I can get.

My daughter comes home starving. Taking 10 minutes to make her a snack makes both of our days. She could totally do it herself and I could totally keep working but which 10 minutes am I going to remember? Which will she remember?

If you have little kids (or no kids) what I’m experiencing may seem like it’s irrelevant (or at least a long way off) but I promise you it’s not. You won’t remember working a little later or catching up on Saturday because the people you love interrupted you but you’re certain to remember those little interactions. And even more, they will remember them, too. This is why I work remotely. I worked a day job and freelanced all night (while putting myself through college) when these same kids were little. I barely remember those years. Be grateful that you’re home to be interrupted at all.


Today’s American worker is the most productive in the world and our productivity has increased exponentially for more than a century.

An average worker needs to work a mere 11 hours per week to produce as much as one working 40 hours per week in 1950. […] the average worker could have a 29-hour workweek if he were satisfied with producing as much as a 40-hour worker as recently as 1990.

— Productivity and the Workweek by Erik Rauch

Of course, we’re not actually working less (we’re working more hours!) and (surprise!) it’s not making us any happier either.

If you’re fortunate to have the freedom to work remotely, great! Rejoice in your freedom to get things done when, where, and how you work best! Jump up and down because you don’t have to get in a car for your twice-daily dose of soul-sucking traffic! Inhale deeply safe from the “hero” in the next cubicle who’s sick but came to the office anyway! Enjoy lunch with your spouse instead of in the break room with Connie from accounts payable! These are all tremendous benefits that make you healthier, happier and a better worker.

Now take all of that and cut yourself some slack. The work will get done.The people you love aren’t interruptions, they’re the reason you work at all. Give ’em a hug.


I’m incredibly grateful to work at Basecamp where we build the tools that make working remotely possible, we even wrote a book about it.

Illustration by Nate Otto

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 10,834 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 7,889 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 6,094 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 5,734 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 3,918 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 3,901 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
Watch How Europeans Carved Up African Land They Never Owned
56 min · 2,247 views today · Watch how Europeans gave away African land they never owned, then expressed anger when Africans resisted. The film is called Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 6: The...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 2,235 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
#ReclaimMLK Seeks to Combat the Sanitizing of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy
Danielle C. Belton · 1,673 views today · Martin Luther King Jr. had more than “a dream,” but you might not notice that on Monday during observances for his birthday. Somewhere between his assassination and today...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 1,039 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 937 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 932 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 905 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Here's How We're Going to End Factory Farming
2 min · 671 views today · Factory farming is a huge problem. But the solution is simple, if you'll join us. Watch this short 2 minute video to see how... Help make a kinder world possible...
Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: A Guide to Gracefully Losing Faith in a Collapsing Dominant Culture
Jim Tull · 385 views today · I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 368 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 346 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 321 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 306 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
The Comprehensive Activist Guide to Dismantling Neoliberalism
Drew Serres · 297 views today · “The creation of today’s market society was not the result of a sequence of spontaneous events but rather of state interference and violence.” – Naomi Klein in The Shock...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Why I Work Remotely (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With Productivity)