Remote Work Is A Personal Experience And That’s Why It’s Awesome


Because WordPress is so global, many developers work remotely. It’s so common in the communty, that Automattic closed its San Francisco office this year in favor of remote work.

This article is about remote work and finding what’s best for you and how you work. Working remotely is very personal, and so I’ve shared how I work. I hope I can encourage you to think more about why remote work is beneficial for you and optimize your own remote work experience.

Personal Space

When I talk about personal space, I’m not really talking about being alone or at least sufficiently separated from others to feel comfortable. Part of why I love working remotely is that I like being alone and I found out that there is nothing wrong with that.

I think, as a fairly introverted person, that my safe space is the personal space that I live my internal life in. At least in my experience, this is the most comfortable place to operate from. If you’re like me, then structuring a remote work experience around staying in that place is the real key.

In a sense, this is an extension of the important ideal that work should be a safe space. We tend to approach creating a safe space for our work in terms of how we conduct our interactions with others. That’s important, and I support it. But just like shared spaces need a code of conduct, your own personal workspace needs something similar.

Maybe you should write down a document of how you expect to treat yourself in the workspace. I don’t have something written down, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about how I can be most successful during the day. I do have a few “rules” that I impose on myself. For example, coffee should be prepared properly or no sitting for longer than 90 minutes straight or no self-defeating negativity.

Rituals Are Not Magic And That’s Why They Are Great

One reason why working in an office works for a lot of people is that it makes a ritual out of work. People get up in the morning, put on nice clothes, eat breakfast (hopefully) and travel to a specific place to do their job. Though not for me, this really works for some people.

It works because it’s a ritual. Rituals are incredibly powerful tools for moving between contexts and focusing our attention on the new context.

My wife and I live in a two-bedroom house, and I use the extra bedroom as an office. When we first moved here, I set up the room to be used as an office but also to function for watching TV or playing video games. I no longer use this room for relaxation. Because it has a specific use, the act of entering this room puts in work mode.

I don’t use my computers for non-work. I watch videos on my TV or my phone. I play video games on my TV. In time, I’m getting better at relaxing and not obsessing work when not in a work context. I’m getting there.

This is why some people put on work clothes before going to work in their home office. In an office proper attire may only be about others, but often it it is part of the ritual of work. If this works for you, then keep dressing in business clothes at home.

What the ritual is doesn’t matter. If it works for you and your authentic self, then do it.

Of course, the room and the other parts of the ritual are not magic, but they can and will change your mindset.

Right now, I feel like I can’t work efficiently while traveling. That’s true because work focus for me happens as part of a conditioned response. It’s not an unfathomable magic. That response is something I programmed, and I can repeat it. This is no different than writing code. Good programming creates repeatable and predictable processes on demand.

Authentic Self

For me, the challenge is creating a ritual that works anywhere and places me in my work zone. Part of this is about hardware — I really like my desk, desktop computer, and speakers — but the rest is about lack of practice. Rituals emerge from consistent practice of the ritual. I suspect that noise-canceling headphones are a key component. Not just because I love music — I’m not joking part of why I chose this career is because I can listen to music of my own choice while I do it — but because I find that a strong sense of personal space emerges from the sense of isolation that noise-canceling headphones create.

I’m sure some people reading this might be very uncomfortable with the emphasis I put on being alone. That’s fine, if you know yourself and know that you need constant interaction with others, I’m very glad you have this self-awareness about your authentic self.

I’m sure there are plenty of extroverts who love working remotely because they can work anywhere and it’s a great way to meet new and interesting people. If I am in a co-working space please respect the headphones in the ear signal.

Finding the relationship between your space and those around you that’s most ideal for your authentic self is predicated on investing in finding an honest definition of your own authentic self.

That, for me, is why I love remote work — it requires me to identify who I really am and treat the true me with respect. I’m pretty sure treating yourself and those you work with respect is the most important part of having an enjoyable and productive work/ life.

Josh is a WordPress developer and educator. He is Founder/ Lead Developer/ Space Astronaut Grade 3 for Caldera Labs, makers of awesome WordPress tools including Caldera Forms — a drag and drop, responsive WordPress form builder. He teaches WordPress development at Caldera Learn.

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