How Remote Work Changes Lives – For Better and Worse

The Washington Post spotlights millions of workers newly allowed to work remotely since the pandemic

— including the head of Block’s global policy partnerships who moved to a tiny town in Michigan to be closer to her grandfather. And on the plus side, there’s a 34-year-old who “has spent the last two years jet-setting across Spain, Italy, Greece and her motherland of Romania. She’s also thrown herself into road cycling…”

Remote workers say they enjoy connecting with nature, exploring the world and spending more time with family, noting that their outlook on work has changed forever. But it’s not rosy all the time: Some say their new lifestyles have introduced complications like time-zone coordination, a different approach to connecting with colleagues, slow internet connectivity, the fear of missing out in-person, and sorting out international health care and travel restrictions….

Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and co-CEO of Australian software company Atlassian, moved to a farm two hours south of the company’s Sydney headquarters…. “We decided that … nobody had to come back to an office,” he said. “That reduced pressure.” For Cannon-Brookes, allowing his employees to work from anywhere seemed to make the most sense. But he admits Atlassian had to do a lot of retooling to make the policy functional. It had to adjust salaries based on location, coordinate time zones so that teams could work together, create moments for in-person interactions and recruit in areas it hadn’t explored. While it’s still working social connection, Atlassian now has a larger hiring pool and happier employees, he says. And many got to be with family. “There’s a number of people who’ve sent beautiful, tearful messages, especially older employees who have worked awhile and realized how unusual this is,” he said.

Atlassian software developer Christina Bell, 27, says the change allowed her to keep her job to spend time with her grandmother, who was diagnosed with cancer, in her homeland of New Zealand. “We went to the beach, did puzzles together, had quality time,” she said of her grandmother who was an early supporter of her engineering interests. “In a good twist of events, my nana is in remission, and she’s still with us a year and a half later. I’m making the most of our time.” Quality time with family is a common thread among several workers who moved thanks to new work policies….

Some workers found relief leaving their cities for nature. That was the case for Naomi Barnett of Spotify and Helen Prowse of Block…. Tempe, Ariz., resident Devin Miller, who works in Yelp’s people operations department, says the permanent shift to remote work made room for a new ritual: occasionally working from a cabin in the mountainous town of Pinetop-Lakeside, Ariz. There, he can watch a herd of elk parade across the front yard and take a conference call from a swinging hammock — assuming his internet signal isn’t weak. “It’s a total refresh for both of us,” he said, referring to his partner.

“Being stuck in our house put a lot of pressure on our relationship.”

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