After a nearly year long sabbatical throughout 2019, I’ve recently returned to work again – this time back in the private sector.
Taking a year long sabbatical and choosing to be largely at home is no easy feat. I’d suggest it’s actually harder than being made redundant or simply taking a few weeks off between contracts. At first I found the whole loss of routine very unsettling and anxiety provoking at times, but I was equally pleased to stick with it long enough to feel some real freedom for once.
My biggest fear about returning to work was the need to commute everyday for 3 hours into London, standing up on the train and sitting in some corporate office because that is what is expected. But most distressing of all, was thinking about the time away from my young children all this would involve. The nights before starting I literally had nightmares and it became obvious to me how much I had become used to being in the family home, being in the family and participating in family life.
Can you believe my surprise when I started my job and found out that it was with a company who had a distributed workforce and distributed teams, and expected me to self-manage my own deliveries and work in a way most suitable to delivering the outcomes required.
For me, this has become getting up at 5am and starting work in the dark sat at the kitchen table whilst the rest of the family is still asleep.
By the time 3pm comes around, I’ve usually done my full work day and am then free to pickup the children and make dinner. I half remarked to my wife, “it’s like being at home but getting paid to do so. To think I put off returning to work for so long…”
A big plus has been amazing infrastructure such that conference calls work well, every time.
It’s been easier to collaborate with my distributed team members compared to the times I’ve been co-located
(I wrote about a similar experience with a Polish development team).
My eyes have been truly opened to what a modern, digital first workplace entails. This is a listed company with 100,000 employees globally – if they can do it, any employer can do it if they really wanted.
I think for me, remote / distributed companies will be my first port of call in the future when looking for work. Facing the daily commute to a stuffy central office, well it’s no longer for me.
This is also why I contract always outside of IR35.
Ask any project manager about the key to their success, and they will say that delivering a project is often more like a "dark art" or by chance, than a predictable science.