01 Feb Benefits of working from home in the country
Thinking about leaving the city office?
It’s been a month since I left my employer and started out on my own, moving from big city London life to a small village in Norfolk. The contrast is stark and if you had asked me if I would be here six months ago I wouldn’t have believed you. I have always been a city boy, living in Birmingham for five years before moving to London for the following five.
Yet now that I am working from countryside home, what have I learnt? If other people are thinking of doing a similar move, I would suggest considering the following benefits of working from a countryside home.
Benefits of working from home in the country
It pretty much takes 45 minutes to get anywhere in London and it seems that the trains are only going to get busier. Even with the TFLs Crossrail project well underway, transport improvements are never going to keep up with demand. Crossrail 2 has already been announced, but that won’t be completed until 2030. Congestion is not going to decrease.
My commute used to take me an hour door-to-door, Meg and I used to get into work early partly to try and miss the worst of the commute. After 5 years of commuting to and from work, losing the commute has been a major benefit to my life. To be exact, an extra 10 hours of life, per week. That’s a lot of time to gain.
I still get up at 6.00am as I did when I was in London, but I now start at 7.30am rather than leave at 7.30am. I have already done an hour and a half before most people have arrived. I haven’t gone out in the cold, I haven’t been squashed in a tube carriage and I will never be late for work.
Commuting never bothered me in the morning, it used to be the evening when I needed to complete a project and so stayed late for work, not getting home till late, missing the gym and eating convenience food that annoyed me. This problem disappeared the moment I started working from home.
Increased quality time
I love to cook but to cook takes time. Now I work from home I cook proper food every day and for anyone who comes to visit us. Being at home means that I can cook pretty much anything I want as I am not concerned by time so much.
As Meg works 10 minutes away from home, I can also pick her up and be in a pub or restaurant in 10, on the beach in 15. We now have more time together and it seems the happier for it.
I can read more, I can exercise more and I can play on my guitar more. I have noticed how much more time I can dedicate to things outside of work. I speak even speak to my Nanny more than I used to!
The wonders of learning
You would be amazed how much you can learn when you are working from home. When you are your own boss, you can manage your time to really get stuck into ideas and problems. I am learning far more than I ever learnt at school or at university. At times I feel like I am doing a couple of degrees at the same time.
There is a great book by Carol Dweck called Mindset http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindset-How-Fulfil-Your-Potential/dp/1780332009 which talks about when people get really engaged with a piece of work it no longer feels like work, this feeling is called being in ‘flow’. I am not saying that I am the next Michael Jordan, but I do think there is a lot to be said for really getting committed to your work, so much so that it does not feel like work.
Of course, it helps that I am learning exactly what I want to learn and that I can do a huge amount of it online. If you are interested in learning to design and build web applications, websites I recommend using tree house as it has taught me loads.
I’ve never been a fan of Shakespeare, but Meg secretly likes EastEnders so I do understand what drama can be like. Office politics suck and the bigger the company, the more intertwined you can become with things that really don’t matter in reality. When you work from home, you lose that. You only work with the people you want to work with and have complete control.
Instead of having to fit around a company culture, you are the culture. This means that you can shape your relations and interactions how you want. All those things you disagreed with in the past can be corrected.
Having less drama means less stress. I am not going to badger on about the benefits of reduced stress, but I can assure you that it feels much better not to be constantly stressed.
The tipping point for me leaving my last company was being shouted at for hours my senior management for the decisions they made. I had no control of the situation. Yes, there will be stress when working from home, but the major difference is one of control. You are in control when you work for yourself and that is a beautiful thing.
A healthier you
I used to run in the mornings or evenings and it sucked, it was dark and cold and I was always cramming it into my day. I now can run in the middle of the day, I can run in the sun and I can now run in the countryside. The month of March, I ran more than I ran in Jan and Feb put together. My runtime is now 10k rather than 5k. I feel much better and I am slowly losing weight.
The air you breathe is healthier in the countryside. Air pollution is a major problem in the city. Considering the fact that companies like VW will happily fudge emissions tests https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_emissions_scandal, I think it is safe to say we are only starting to scratch the surface with how bad the health effects of air pollution are.
Air pollution can damage the brain http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/air-pollution-effects-nervous.pdf, so to reduce the amount of pollution you breathe can only be a good thing.
London has always been expensive, but being in London means that you naturally spend more because you have more of an opportunity to do so.
Ignoring the initial set up costs (click here if you want to see my office set up), day to day spending is reduced dramatically. I don’t need to buy lunch. I don’t need to pay for a travel card. Pubs are cheaper too and outings are cheaper too.
When I do need to go to London I take the car, which is much cheaper than taking the train and I stay round a friend’s houses. It is pretty easy to keep your costs to a minimum. Considering you no longer have a salary, this point becomes pretty important!
On reflection, I find that the benefits of working from home have been far greater than I expected. If you know what you want to fill your time with rather than be constantly entertained, then moving to the country could be for you. I love the opportunity to be able to really put my mind to the things I want to do, being here gives me that opportunity.
I love the city and that’s not going to change. But I enjoy being here too. If anything I would say that my life goes quicker here than it used too. As they say, time flies when you are having fun.
I used to joke that I was leaving the city to go live in a field, but now I am in that field I really enjoy it so far. After all, if I hate it I can always go back into the city. But as it currently stands I don’t think I will.
In a time where you can get good internet speed in the middle of nowhere and you have the opportunity to move out, why not give it ago. This city boy might be changing his stripes to the country.