Work-Life Integration: The Case For Remote Careers

Written by Adrienne Bryant on January 31, 2019

The phrase work-life balance has never sat well with me. The two aren’t always as separate as the term suggests.The concept gets even more vague when you make the switch from a brick-and-mortar workplace to working from your desk at home, like I did in 2017. At the association management company where I work, I am currently the only person who works remotely full-time.

I am an introvert, which I think makes my personality a good fit for working remotely. For me, this job is the perfect situation because I do not feel super sociable first thing in the morning. In an office, I walk in with blinders on and go straight to my office because my head is full of my to-do list. At home, I can knock out some tasks before I speak to anyone, then log into Slack ready to talk, work, and socialize with my colleagues.

When I first started working remotely, everyone told me to get up, get dressed and brush my teeth every day before I start work. In the beginning, I heeded this advice, but as time went on, I slowly slipped into a pajama wearing, non-teeth brushing habit. As I continued to do this, I learned that it really does affect your psyche. I’m a different person when I adhere to a healthy routine.

That said, the beauty of working from home is that it accounts for the days when maintaining that routine isn’t possible. This is where the concept of work-life integration becomes a more useful phrase.

My mother was unwell when I was offered my current position. She was going to have surgery the day after I received the job offer. I asked my soon-to-be boss, who was extremely understanding, if I could get back to her later in the week when I was in a better place to make a decision. After mom’s surgery, I discussed the opportunity with my family and decided I couldn’t pass it up. In addition to the professional benefits it would offer, this job would allow me to care for my mom during her recovery. I could integrate the demands of my life into my work day, and vice versa.

At another job, driving her to appointments and taking care of her would have required me taking full days off. Remote work allows me to take only the time off I need to be out of the office and return to my job without having to commute or work around the office schedule. I can get my normal “8 hours” in at any time during the day.

I also don’t lose as much work time when my health is not optimal. When I would get sick in the past, I would spend the early morning hours worrying about whether or not to call in and miss a day, or will myself to feel better, drive the hour to the office, and sit miserably waiting for 5 o’clock when I could make the hour drive home and crawl into my bed. Today, when I am unwell, I can sleep the extra hours I need to heal and then spend the day taking care of myself while I work. Now, I am able to integrate the ups and downs of my life into my career.

Adrienne spoke in the “The Future of Work is Here” session during SURGE Optimism 2018, an interactive virtual conference hosted by AssociationSuccess.org on November 7th-9th. Click here to watch the sessions on demand.