I was bored.
I was staring out across the office in a sorry trance, questioning the life choices that led me here while the sun was shining outside and email after email came pounding into my inbox, all of it urgent of course but none of it particularly important.
Surely there was a better way than this?
It’s an old cliché, you know the one about questioning life, the universe and everything else while you struggle through the working day. An overused and simplified image. I know. And it’s an image that I didn’t want to start this article with, but one which it’s hard to escape from when writing about escaping the confines of the cubicle.
That’s because it’s simple but it’s true.
These are words that have been written and published across blogs and in e-books for the last ten years, words written and spoken by adventurers, travellers, Youtubers and all those who are bored of the same routine that they’ve always lived for their working life. And before the rise of the internet and the digital nomads going it alone in the world and promoting an alternative, these are words that were thought and whispered by anyone looking to escape, by anyone looking for something new, by anyone looking for a change of lifestyle.
Everybody has stared out of that window, and now more than ever it’s easier to simply pack up and leave. For many people, the office is already dead. It died for me that day, and in the digital age, it’s a question now of how long will the office live, rather than questioning how much of your life you will have to spend in it.
The only problem for me- as with anyone- was finding a way to live without it. It’s easy to dream, but it’s still hard to walk out of that door and to slam it shut behind you.
Many of you will have experienced the same sorry trance. That’s why the cliché was unavoidable. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even look out of the window without swivelling around on my chair 360 degrees and provoking the anger of an equally stressed manager, but once I realised that it would be possible to work remotely, it became easier to bear the job. The office really was dead to me. There was a way out and it didn’t involve throwing myself violently out of the same window I couldn’t even day dream out of.
My ‘9-5’ career at the time was actually either a 9-6 or 8-5 job. depending on the rota and whether I was sent any last minute, belated yet urgent enquiries from clients ten minutes before I was supposed to leave. I was working in the travel industry. All the work was done via phone or email, and bookings were made via a global booking system- again of course online. Company culture insisted that we all worked in the age old office environment, the way things had been done for decades. The job could have allowed for more flexibility of course, and indeed this is something that the same company has- since I left- realised, and the same thing that many companies are beginning to open up to. The fact is that a lot of work can be done remotely. The physical need for an office is dying. Companies can work across continents and time zones, so why confine yourself to a stuffy office in an expensive part of the city when the same work can be done anywhere with an internet connection and perhaps some more spectacular scenery to look out on.
Where and when it’s possible it will become a normal part of the working life, to have remote employees who chose where they spend most of their working day, and even when they spend their working day.
This can’t happen across every career and every industry, but where possible, it will become the norm, so for those that do want a remote lifestyle that allows them to travel, to work from home or from exotic locations, then those people will have the choice and the ability to do this. It will make for a better standard of living for those that want it.
For me though, I couldn’t wait for the company I worked for to realise all this. My love of travel had drawn me into the travel industry. But this was still an office job and with that went a routine that I couldn’t dictate for myself.
My equal love for writing meant that I was always pursuing freelancing opportunities in my spare time. It’s fiercely competitive, it’s hard work, but online the opportunities did exist for me to make a living, and with the rise of the blog, I could make my own opportunities too. So my website was born, my writing increased and I set out to travel and to attempt to fund a life of travel by working remotely and earning money online. It would be hard, gritty, at times painful, but I would be working for me and working where and when I chose to.
That was the important part. The day I received my first payment for a sponsored post I’d created on my blog I was in Turkey, floating over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon. It was proof that it was possible. That I hadn’t been delusional. After that, more writing opportunities opened up. It hasn’t been easy, or even consistent, but as with any career and any business, it takes time and perseverance to succeed.
I chose to find a new lifestyle through travel and writing, but online there are ways to earn money, and to build businesses in a multitude of sectors and ways, be it graphic design or sales, administration or teaching to name just a bare few. Your company might even let you work your existing job remotely, or if you have the tenacity you can build your own company online. The opportunities are there, and they are growing.
For me, it’s now been well over a year since I left home, and the office is still dead to me.
I think it’s going to stay that way too.
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