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People: adopting a remote lifestyle

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Introduction

On this page, we're spotlighting brilliant, creative, passionate people who have adopted a remote lifestyle.

New possibilities and freedoms

In the GitLab Unfiltered video above, two GitLab team members share their experiences on working in an all-remote setting, providing a glimpse at what's possible when embracing this style of work.

All-remote and remote-first organizations enable lifestyles that simply are not possible in colocated companies, where a daily commute and one's physical presence are required.

When you're free to choose when and where you live and work, your work can revolve around your life as opposed to the other way around.

All-remote and remote-first organizations tend to attract people who place a high degree of value on autonomy, flexibility, empathy, and mobility. It also presents outsized opportunity for people who must live or prefer to live in rural areas, where well-paying careers in technical industries are few and far between.

Below, we're detailing examples of people who have adopted a remote lifestyle. If these resonate with you, chances are high that you would receive a great deal of fulfillment in an all-remote or remote-first company. Similarly, if you're an employer yearning to hire sharp, driven, passionate people like the below, consider going all-remote in your own company.

Nomads

The thought of having no permanent residence while maintaining the same career would conjure laughter and confusion a few decades ago. Thanks to rapid advancement in internet infrastructure, technology, software, tools, and cultural appreciation for asynchronous communication, it's now quite feasible.

JT Genter and Katie Genter aspire to explore the world, embrace their passion for writing, and fly on as many airlines as possible. As members of The Points Guy's editorial staff, they're able to contribute asynchronously and maintain connections with team members through tools like Slack and Zoom. They've built their careers while crisscrossing the globe, embracing the digital nomad lifestyle while informing others on how to do similar.

Those looking to connect professionally with other digital nomads should consider joining LinkedIn's Digital Nomads Group.

To see how two GitLab team members utilized the company's Visiting Grant incentive to work with 49 different colleagues across 5 continents, have a look at "Around the world in 6 releases."

Travelers

Individuals with an innate sense of wanderlust are apt to gain fulfillment in an all-remote or remote-first role. Having the freedom and flexibility to travel at will and work from anywhere in the world with a solid internet connection is a tremendous perk for those who don't want to sit still, yearn to explore new cultures, and collect new passport stamps.

It's important to note that you aren't required to have audacious travel goals to appreciate an all-remote setting. Those who simply appreciate the ability to visit friends and family on occasion — or jump on excellent flight deals to new locales — without lobbying for additional vacation may be suited for all-remote.

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I'm on some sweet mountain in the middle of Georgia

A post shared by Tynan (@tynancom) on

All-remote enables unconventional living situations where travel is a core pillar. Tynan, once a digital nomad who now maintains a residence in Las Vegas, Nevada, orchestrated a multi-year strategy to acquire part ownership in a handful of properties around the world.

This affords him multiple home bases around the world for less than the cost of an average property in a major global city. He details this approach, which is replicable by those with a core group of like-minded friends, in a series of blog posts.

  1. My Friends and I Bought an Island
  2. An Island, Vegas, Budapest for A Fraction of the Median House Price
  3. Building an Island Cabin
  4. My Friends and I Bought a Condo in Hawaii
  5. What It's Like Sharing Properties With Friends
  6. How to Love Living in Las Vegas
  7. How I Decided to Move to Las Vegas In 12 Hours

Parents

Building a career while raising one or more children has its challenges. However, all-remote and remote-first organizations provide an atmopshere where those who yearn to continue working may do so without the usual family sacrifices linked to daily commutes in colocated environments.

Research has shown that parental presence for infants, toddlers, and older children has a marked impact on a child's adaptability and aptitude. In high-income families, it's easier for one parent to voluntarily step away from work to care for a child, with another parent supporting the group financially. This creates an outsized negative impact on lower-income families, including those residing in rural areas where well-paying colocated career opportunities are limited.

Boosting inclusion and diversity

Historically, this has also disproportionality impacted females, though The Pew Research Center has seen a recent rise in stay-at-home fathers citing "caring for home/family" as their reason.

All-remote solves these quandaries in multiple ways. In families where both parents wish to continue building their career, but desire to parent their child or children at home, an all-remote work environment affords them that luxury. Extrapolated, this contributes to a future generation of adults that have collectively reaped the benefits of increased parental presence, building a better tomorrow for all.

Improving quality of life

In cases where one parent desires to step away from work in order to focus completely on childrearing, all-remote makes it far easier for the family to relocate to an area with a lower cost-of-living and/or a higher quality of life (development opportunities, medical facilities, schools, etc.), such that one working parent can sustain the group financially.

While this provides clear and quantifiable benefits to the family, it also creates an economic boost to the community in which they relocate to.

Adoption and foster care

All-remote can significantly impact the fabric of a family in the process of adoption or fostering. In such cases, it is often imperative that a family be available in the home in order to finalize the adoption of a child or welcome a foster child into one's home. Beyond all-remote work environments supporting more diverse and inclusive ways to start or build one's family, this creates more opportunity to aid the vulnerable and build a better future for all.

My wife and I experienced the beautiful and transformative journey of adoption because I worked for an employer that trusted me to excel from a place I needed to be to see it through. I’ve met countless GitLabbers who have never been happier, more fulfilled, or more engaged with their family and community, because they’re empowered to work remotely. - Darren M., Senior Manager, All-Remote Culture Curator

For more, consider reading GitLab's four-part blog series on working remotely with children of all ages.

  1. Parental/maternity leave around the world – how does your country stack up?
  2. How I balance a baby, a career at GitLab, and cultural expectations of motherhood
  3. How to make your home a space that works with kids
  4. 5 Things to keep in mind while working remotely with kids

Community advocates

It's not uncommon for individuals to feel a strong connection to the region where they were born, or a region which has contributed significantly to their development and worldview. Increasingly, those who feel a sense of connection to a rural area where they were raised are faced with a difficult choice: remain physically located in a community that matters to them despite underwhelming colocated career options, or uproot their life and move to an area which offers superior job opportunities.

Reversing rural depopulation

Research from the University of New Hampshire has found that "35% of rural counties in the United States are experiencing protracted and significant population loss."

Speaking to shrinking towns across Europe, a 2016 report from the European Parliamentary Research Service notes that "younger members of society prefer to migrate to more economically vibrant regions and cities in search of better job prospects as, in most of these territories, professional opportunities remain limited and confined to specific fields (e.g. agriculture and tourism)."

All-remote has the power to pause, and perhaps even reverse, these trends of depopulation, by decoupling location and career opportunity.

Career portability

In scenarios where a couple desires to live together, one typically forgoes their existing career in order to relocate. With all-remote, careers are portable, enabling these milestone moments in life to be more momentous and less stressful.

In situations where parents desire to be closer to extended family or friends in order to share the responsibility of childrearing with a broader community, all-remote supports such endevours by default.

Military spouses and families

Military rotations often require families to uproot and relocate on a regular basis. For military spouses and family members, this creates a significant burden. Being forced to restart one's career and reestablishing a rapport every couple of years is both inefficient and draining.

In many cases, the challenge is so significant that military spouses simply opt out of the workplace, despite a desire to further their career. This can lead to diminished economic potential for a family, and place increased strain on the military member to sustain the group.

All-remote is an ideal anecdote. Even as relocations occur, an all-remote team member can still contribute their insights and knowledge for the betterment of the company. This can create increased loyalty and lower turnover for all-remote employers, while supporting hiring pipelines which are more diverse and inclusive.

At GitLab, several team members are US military spouses.

Emilie S., a data engineer, provides tips for those embracing all-remote roles in a Doist blog post entitled "6 People Who Prove You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Your Career to Work Remotely."

Getting promoted while working remotely really depends on how remote your company is. GitLab is a fully remote organization with over 700 folks around the world, so getting promoted wasn’t difficult at all. In previous roles, I was the only person who worked remotely. In those cases, I felt very forgotten by my employer. - Emilie S., data engineer at GitLab

Brittany R., Compensation & Benefits Manager, shares advice for working parents in an all-remote setting.

My daughter is my best friend, and I am so blessed to be able to see her grow into her own little person while still accomplishing my professional goals. Seeing her interact ("Hi!" for everyone) with all of my GitLab teammates at Contribute was also very special. – Brittany R., Compensation & Benefits Manager

Hobbyists

Maintaining one or more hobbies is far easier in an all-remote setting. Traveling band members, boaters, and scuba divers are able to carry their work with them as they move from place to place.

Those who are drawn to outdoor hobbies, such as canyoneering, photography, rafting, and water sports, are more easily able to live in locales where these activities are feasible. In many cases, communities surrounded by vast expanses of nature are not within commuting distance to well-paying careers in major metropolitan areas. All-remote prevents one from having to sacrifice those elements for the sake of their career.

Those who value flexibility and autonomy

When considering employment of any kind, it's important to evaluate the offer in totality. Elements such as compensation, safety/security, management style, day-to-day tasks, and benefits are important. For some, the elements of flexibility, autonomy, and ability to live in a place of their choosing takes precedence.

It's wise to rank all of the above in order of importance for you. If you find that being able to live wherever you wish is as important, if not more important, than extracting a certain salary from a role, all-remote will likely suit you well.

Employer benefits

Employers should recognize that this reality also benefits them. When you hire individuals who place a high degree of value on not having to commute and being able to live and work where they're most comfortable, they will generally hold the company in higher regard, find greater connection with their work, and exhibit greater loyalty. Research by TINYpulse and Owl Labs found that "companies that support remote work have a 25% higher retention rate than companies that don't."

Work/life harmony

The traditional view of work/life balance insinuates that work and life are on opposite ends of a scale, with an individual responsible for ensuring that neither side teeters too far in one direction. This creates a climate where work and life at naturally at odds with one another, ever at war for the hours in your day.

A healthier approach, enabled by all-remote, is work/life harmony. When your work and your life are in harmony, there's less friction. You're free to approach your day not as a competition between two factions, but as one experience with two forces that more naturally give and take as needed.

Added adaptability

All-remote enables greater harmony by being more forgiving of the unknown, and more accepting of the unexpected. When you're able to live and work in a place of your choosing, there's one less barrier in the way when you need to quickly pivot away from work in order to address a situation at home, with family, etc.

Creating a more efficient day

It also allows you to weave the common chores of life into one's working day. Tasks such as laundry, collecting mail, exercising, cooking/preparing meals, finding private space for sensitive phone calls (e.g. calls to a financial institution), and even napping can be accomplished during short breaks in the day for someone who is able to work at home.

This creates tremendous efficiency, and can easily add one to two hours of leisure time back to a worker's day. If forced to endure a commute and be away from home in a colocated working arrangement, all of the aforesaid tasks would need to be handled after office hours, creating unhealthy competition between work and life.

Adjustable working hours

An added benefit to being a manager of one and working in an environment that supports asynchronous communication is the ability to shift one's working day to accomodate important life moments.

All-remote enables individuals to be available during daylight hours for activities such as volunteering, participating in school functions, and managing tasks that cannot be handled in off-hours (e.g. renewing a driver license, certain banking functions, etc.)

Employees who are entrusted to manage their days, balancing the demands of life with the requirements of work, are more likely to exist in a harmonious state.

The spoils of an off-peak life

All-remote also allows individuals to operate their life in an off-peak manner. For instance, those in a conventional colocated corporate setting may have little choice but to plan a family trip to a national park over a holiday in order to minimize time away from the office. This all but guarantees negative financial consequences (paying peak rates for travel and lodging) and an underwhelming experience (attempting to access a popular destination with throngs of others).

When you're able to adjust your working hours and days, it's easier to plan travel on days with fewer businesspeople competing for seats, aiming for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday and avoiding Sunday, Monday, and Friday.

It's easier to save money by enjoying activities when crowds are down, such as taking in a sporting event on a Wednesday afternoon as opposed to a Friday or Saturday evening.

It's easier to create special moments for your family, visiting a desirable restaurant, park, or venue during off-peak hours as opposed to battling crowds.

Caretakers

All-remote allows individuals to live close to friends and family should they choose. This is of particular significance to individuals who need or desire to act as a caregiver. For instance, those with aging parents may prefer to move nearby and assist with daily needs rather than considering placement in a care facility. This can have major emotional and financial benefits.

As time passes, caregiving needs can change. Families may need to relocate to be closer to one family for a time, then relocate again as a different family member ages. All-remote allows individuals to carry their career with them, relieving caregivers of the burden of choosing their job over family.

Beyond the personal, communal, and societal benefits from empowering people to provide care to others who are important to them, all-remote employers should expect heightened loyalty and job satisfaction from caregiving team members.


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