The Truths of Telecommuting: My Turbulent Journey in Chile

Whatever you want to call it: working remotely, teleworking, or running a home office, telecommuting is a business venture that’s been romanticized by countless best-sellers, get-rich-quick schemes, and motivational speeches from other, more successful entrepreneurs.

Working from home has become something of a hot topic lately. Earlier this year, it was announced that Yahoo was banning it completely. This act from such an influential company has left many “remoters” worried that others may follow suit. Is it really a waste of a company’s time and effort?

According to recent studies, 65% of companies allow remote workers, but what does that do to productivity? Asking the general public revealed that 67% felt more productive when working remotely, saying they felt “liberated.” Others disagreed, preferring the standard office setting. In reality, it depends on the person. What is right for some isn’t necessarily best for everyone.

But what’s it really like?

521649_10151349709054080_1515096553_nThe idea that anyone can work anywhere in the world simply by opening a laptop is enough to entice anyone, allowing the mind to run wild. Imagine, sitting on the banks of the French Riveria, looking out at the on the water as ships pass on a bright and quiet morning—time to clock in. Sip Champagne, gorge on strawberries, all the while getting paid. Working remotely seems to hold an endless amount of possibilities.

The Situation

Three months ago I moved to Santiago, Chile to test this theory. Four thousand miles away from Tampa Bay’s warm coastline. While Florida was enjoying the start of its new summer, I was entering my second winter below the Equator. Life here moves much faster. The streets are dirtier, the sky is far more polluted but the people are energetic and inviting. Santiago is a giant metropolis.

582501_10151349710214080_553799200_nOne Wednesday in this new and strange city, I found myself packed inside a murky bar with a chalk-written sign that reads, “Spanglish” There were a hundred twenty-somethings enjoying themselves and everyone was smiling and dancing.

A woman stood up on a bar stool with a sign held high. It read: English. “Twenty minutes in English, twenty minutes in Spanish. It’s a great place for Chileans to come and practice their English” I was just there to meet some locals and drink good beer.

So I began to mingle. Everyone seemed easier to meet, despite a slight language barrier. Over the course of the night everyone repeatedly asked me, “So what do you do?”

Wow, they’d say. I remember one guy, who had just turned 30 saying, “I’ve been working in marketing for six years. I would kill for your job…”

“You lucky guy.”

Believe me, most of the time I’m not successful. In fact, it’s never been easy for me. I’ve had countless arguments with numerous customer service representatives of certain unnamed Internet companies and multiple rage-inducing troubles with my Skype connection. I’ve found myself wasting time on Facebook or my favorite movie blog. Between Internet troubles and procrastination, the deadlines are almost unbearable and it feels like the work keeps piling up. Over my very turbulent course here in Chile, I’ve found that one thing quickly becomes evident:

You are your own worst enemy.

Whatever distractions plague you in life, working in the confines of your own home allows those things to magnify to the nth degree. No longer is it a simple quick look at the clock or finding an excuse to go to the bathroom. Kelly McCausey, a well-known solopreneur, blogger, and career coach said, “Never underestimate the gravitational pull of the fridge and your comfy bed”. From home, you are your own boss.

And yet, at the end of the day, I’ve found that working remotely teaches you about yourself, it revels your determination and the depth of your own work ethic.

Despite the difficulties, it’s a privilege to work for CopyPress. Even when times are tough and the deadlines seem impossible, I pull open the blinds, look out the window at the Andes and remind myself that not everyone gets to do this. I remind myself that well…

I’m one lucky guy indeed.

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About the author

Jon Auffarth