Remote Working, Surevine and My Family

Remote working means something different for everyone who’s done it. For me, there are some very clear reasons as to why remote and flexible working are a must-have.

In 2014, I worked for a mobile app development house in a nearby city. Buses to and from. I left the house before my eldest got out of bed, and got home after he was in bed. I was weekend dad, and that wasn’t working for me. I switched jobs to work in my own city, and loved how much more of my kids life I got to take part in.

In 2015, my wife gave birth to twins, and after a few short weeks I was back at work, still loving how much I could witness and take part in, but wishing I could help out a little more at home, and see a little more of my kids very important early years. My employer was happy to oblige, and granted me a day a week working from home.

In 2017, a friend and former coworker of mine working for Surevine said that a role was available, and that he’d like to work with me again. I wasn’t so sure. I had a stable job that I quite liked, and wasn’t sure about all the “security” and “government” stuff that Surevine were in to - were they evil? As a favour to him, I agreed to have a call with Laura (the HR guru) to chat through what the role would look like so I could make up my mind. I was convinced. The founders were well aware of the perspective of “security focussed organisations” and were aware that companies (and some governments) are happy to do unscrupulous things for their own benefit. There were clear boundaries and red lines for the company, as well as the ability for anyone to raise a hand if they saw something that they personally objected to. Nobody ever need work on something they weren’t happy with. Not only that, but the culture was open, the structure flat, and the teams structured around empowerment and learning. I was sold.

In early 2018, I was a Surevine employee, and enjoying my work. I was still early in my employment, and still adapting to my life as a home worker. There were some unforeseen changes to my life, and especially the work/life balance, that I hadn’t expected:

  • When you’re excited by learning, it doesn’t need to stop because the lights are switching off
  • If there’s an appointment or a school play, it’s never a question of if you can go – just a matter of broadcasting your availability
  • Lunchtime is whenever you fancy. For as long as you fancy. The only thing that matters is doing your work, recording your time, and occasionally turning up to a meeting or two.
  • Are you not quite ill, but less than 100%? Stay in bed. (This doesn’t apply to parents, of course)
  • Need a haircut, but don’t fancy the queue at the barbers on a Saturday morning? Go on Thursday afternoon!

I was worried before about how if I worked at home, I’d be also be living at work, and home life and work life could start impacting each other. The reality has been quite different. I no longer require fluorescent lights to be in the “learning zone”, and I don’t need it to be a weekend to help my disabled mother-in-law get to an appointment. I’m living the most productive life I possibly can, and I’ll probably never return to regular office life.

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