THE RAT RACE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE YOUR REALITY
Today I have an important meeting with one of our executives in London.
I struggle with what I should wear. All the clothes that I own now fit into one small packing cube into one 45L backpack. I wear my only pair of pants, with my only cardigan, which probably doesn’t match my only pair of shoes. I pack up my bag, fill up my water bottle, grab a granola bar, and begin my 50-minute commute to the office that includes a bus, train, and about a half mile of walking.
I enter the train and must stand as all the seats are full. With a sweaty stranger’s arm pit in my face, I look around me. People are reading the Morning Standard trying to focus on the paper and stepping on me as the crowded train shakes back and forth. I get off at my stop and walk through the street surrounded by men in suits and women in heels. I get to my building and swipe through security with my badge then wait for the full elevator to stop at every floor as someone gets out. An automated voice says “Doors opening, doors closing, doors opening, doors closing” about a dozen times.
I get to my floor, swipe my security badge again and get ready for my meeting. Everything goes well and I get some work done, but if I’m honest I’m mostly on Facebook and chatting with my friends at their day jobs trying to plan our evening.
Someone had a meeting in the board room and now it’s over and there are muffins. People swarm to the kitchen to scavenge the left overs. It’s lunch time and I’m not really hungry (because I stole a muffin) but it’s nice outside and I want to be outdoors. I feel a little guilty walking out the door with no real intent to get lunch, yet taking my “lunch break.” Again the elevator stops at every floor on the way down “doors opening, doors closing” and I wait in line to swipe my badge to get out of the building. I get to the courtyard and people are sitting in the sun chatting and having lunch in their suits. They hardly notice how sweaty they are because they are just happy to be outside. I walk down the street and there are lines out the doors of cafés and restaurants with people carrying cellophane wrapped sandwiches back to their desks.
I keep walking and I think, what if I don’t go back to the office today? What if I never go back?
Right now, I am sitting at a rooftop bar in what can only be described as the hipster part of London. I just had a drink with a scoop of strawberry sorbet dolloped in an apple cider and a lamb burger freshly grilled on the BBQ. I’m sitting in the shade at the top of a tree house painted in rainbow colors listening to The Beatles. The waitress asks me how I’m enjoying my holiday, and I reply that I am because explaining what I’m really doing (working) is too complicated for her to understand.
I’ve been working here for about an hour now and fairly confident I’ve accomplished more than I would have in the office the whole rest of the afternoon. (And I’ve had a chance to work on my tan!) Why would we choose to live in a world of crowded trains and commutes in uncomfortable clothes waiting in line for plastic wrapped food?
I choose to reject that world. I choose to reject the delayed life plan. I choose to work remotely.
I’ll be traveling the world for a year with a program called RemoteYear to evangelize social selling with our global NetSuite sales teams. This means sometimes working crazy hours early in the morning to support Australia and late into the evening for the West Coast, it means I can’t always go out for happy hour, and it means I need to be disciplined about my time management and productivity. But it also means I can work from a beach in Bari, a café in Prague, a pool in Crete, a fortress in Belgrade, or a rooftop in London, and I have! The 9-5 cubicle life rat race doesn’t have to be your reality.