Remote Working is not a Covid-19 pandemic invention. That’s right! Even though the topic has gotten deep traction since the impacts from the global health crisis obligated most offices to close their doors for their staff, Alternative Workplaces have been on some companies’ agendas since the early ’90s.
Giants such as IBM and AT&T, as a mean to reduce fixed infrastructure costs to its enormous workforce, have been endeavoring the field with experiments that, in addition to proving the expected cost reductions assumptions, raised a series of unexpected findings, from productivity improvements to actual preference from the staff itself (who loves commuting for hours, anyway, right?).
The year was 1994. The day, September 20. Although there was no pandemic, national holidays, or the likes, the whole of AT&T’s workforce, from Customer Service agents to the CEO, was telecommuting. In a time where the Internet was still unknown to the majority of global households, the experiment was considered madness, but the outcomes were proved obvious. Aside from the U$ 500 million in office structure savings, a deep improvement in productivity, and the company’s popularity increase within the staff, the model didn’t get traction throughout the global market. Until March 2020.
Monotony is defined as wearisome uniformity or lack of variety. Waking up to the same place, commuting during the same hours, sitting at the same chair, drinking the same coffee… the list goes on. This is not to say that routines are a blocker to productivity or innovation (in reality, I’m personally a big fan of Jeff Haden’s Motivation Myth mentions of routines as a discipline and motivation boosters), but repetitive small habits and tastes can be massively disappointing, bring up one’s sourest moods and, empirically speaking, block a lot of one’s creative thinking and individual freedom.
As a personal enthusiast of remote working and constant getaways, and after being locked at home for a couple of months during Manila’s lockdowns attempts, during a small opening window, I’ve packed my bags to Siargao, southern Philippines, for a 2 weeks work retreat, which means I was pretty much working, but from an Alternative Workplace. In this post, I’ll share some of my recent updates about my personal concept of “working from wherever” and the benefits it has to one’s life.
Tuning your energy into different vibrations
In Brazil, whenever somebody is doing something in a very robotic way, without properly understanding the reason why that’s being done, we use an expression which, in Portuguese, is “Piloto Automático”. On a literal translation, that’d be Automatic Pilot.
As previously mentioned, it’s not the purpose of this post to judge the power of routines. But when you’re on full execution mode, to a point where purpose and essentialism move to a distant point, changing environments can be a powerful tool to remind you that you’re not a robot.
By fully diving into a different life rhythm, a different set of habits, new cultures, new world perspectives, new food spices, one will practically be forced to expand its horizons, to adapt to that new environment. It’s pretty common for somebody, traveling from a very urban and fast-paced area, to get bothered by slower service response, different driving skills, the lack of 24h service.
That “summer tourist” mindset could completely block one’s proper experience, so open your mind to understand those new local people, and learn, from different lifestyles, how could that new rhythm/ vibration support on removing you from the Automatic Pilot daily life.
Expand your network
Although modern and western societies teach us that we need a lot to have fun, that’s not really part of human life. In reality, some of the most notable studies on Happiness, for instance, OpenUniversity’s or Harvard’s, unanimously conclude that Community and Relationships are by far the main factors driving happiness (needless to say, though, after crossing that “extreme poverty line”).
With that in mind, what better way to get to know new people, talk about different topics, practice different activities, and perhaps, even getting to develop relationships that might last for a lifetime?
Make better use of your free time
Once you’re cutting out the need to commute, let’s use that time for something that appeals to you. Rather it’s waking up early for yoga-practicing, running by the beach, riding a bike around the village, catch the sunrise, you name. That is up to you to decide.
Your day instantaneously gets “larger”, and the fact that you’re in a different place, tends to drive you to explore new possibilities, and the extra dopamine can definitely help us on finding more motivation within work achievements, possibly bringing a cycle of small successes, leading to more motivation, driving more success, and so it goes.
Open your mind for creative thoughts
Aside from working in front of a computer for over 8 hours a day, a recent study from eMarketer shows that an average American person spends over 3 hours and 40 minutes DAILY looking at a cellphone screen. That’s nearly 50 full days in a year (or almost 15% of the time you have in a year).
Considering that a vast share of that screen time is usually dedicated to apps such as social media, video platforms, messengers, and the likes, let’s say that there’s not much stimulus to proper creative/ critical thinking coming out of it. If anything, that could in fact be quite damaging to your eyes (not to mention emotional, mental, and physical outcomes from such behaviors).
With that in mind, use your time out of work to REALLY TURN EVERYTHING OFF. Forget about your electronics, forget about the internet, forget about the external world for a little moment.
Being able to explore different atmospheres is a privilege that few people can really explore. Use that privilege to build something, even if minor, that’ll contribute to your innovative thoughts, challenging your mind to think of different stuff and add value to your daily life, and who knows, positively impacting other people.
Look around, observe the sky, the clouds moving, the shining stars, the windy weather, the moving trees, the populations around it. Feel the air!
The creative stimulus comes when we least expect it, and opening our minds to new possibilities (away from our cellphone screen) is an underrated resource that, sometimes, we take for granted.
So, are you ready for an Alternative Workplace retreat?