Sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up. Take a risk. Change everything.
When I was recently faced with a potential major decision that would change my whole world, I decided to throw caution to the wind and jump right in. I’m so happy I did; however, a voice in the back of my head kept asking, “Is there anyone out there who could hold my hand and tell me it’s all going to be okay?” Turns out, virtual work is my new comfort blanket.
I’m pretty new to virtual office life. I’m also new to another major life change—marriage. My husband and I are both theatre kids and recently, my husband got accepted into a highly coveted masters program for physical theatre and ensemble work. Don’t get me wrong – this is GREAT news. However, it also happens to be on the opposite side of the country from where we now live. I’ve been in New York for six years and have been eager to take a break from big city life, so when this opportunity landed in our laps, there wasn’t much to do but start planning our cross-country move. Away we go to Blue Lake, California!
Of course, nothing is as easy as snapping your fingers, and that is certainly true with major life changes like moving 3000 miles. I currently work two different arts administration jobs that involve coming into a physical office for the typical 9-5 gig. I asked if they’d consider moving their offices to California so I could keep working for them, but, well…you can imagine how that went.
I am about to be the sole breadwinner of the family with no idea what in the heck I’ll be able to do for work in rural Northern California (I mean really rural. We’re basically moving to a forest). Now what?
I’m happy to report that I have been blessed with the most wonderful life line of all time while I go through all these monumental life shifts. A virtual workplace. I joined Don’t Panic a few months ago, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Here’s why:
The Yogi Master of Virtual Office Life
The first and most flashy of the perks is the flexibility. And it’s true. As long as I have a strong and sure WiFi connection, I have an office. Last week I was in France and Hungary and still able to upload finished projects and check in on things. It was awesome.
Also, I have found that I thrive with deadline-based tasks over office hours. I love knowing what I have to get done, doing it in my own time, and delivering it on time if not early. This means I can live anywhere and still produce good work for my clients. So, while I’m unpacking boxes and fighting off raccoons, I can still turn in my audio edits and earn a wage.
The Eternal Student
I love learning new things and let me tell you—I have learned so many new things since starting my virtual role! Every new thing I learn makes me even more useful to my clients. I now know how to composite audio for podcasts, create catchy show notes (at least I hope hope they’re catchy), and write compelling blogs (you’re compelled, right?).
These are all skills I enjoy using for Don’t Panic, but they are also skills that fill me with confidence and help me meet the prospect of a new place, and a new life with my head held high. That’s pretty groovy and not something I thought about before joining the team. Bring it, Redwoods!
Get Those G’s
With virtual work, I can afford to pay the bills (plus a little extra!) while I settle in my new home. This is priceless. Well, full of prices, and bills, and rent, and shipping costs, and…you get the idea. Having a fluid work situation with Don’t Panic let’s me continue to earn money while I figure everything out.
Moving without any prospect of income is terrifying. I’ve only done that once, and it was when I came to New York with two suitcases and a dream. The dream quickly turned into a barista job at Starbucks, a masters degree, countless productions, and very little mulla. And that was okay for me, but now it’s not just me on the line.
I have a husband I’ve promised to support while he studies and maybe even a little babe in the near future (I am Superwoman!). I can’t afford to hope for the best once I arrive. The fact that my job travels with me has released mounds of fear and anxiety, let me sleep at night, annnnnd made the move possible. Bringing home the bacon, indeed!
One of the aspects I have been most moved by is my virtual co-workers. This is a group of fierce human beings with the courage to shape their own lifestyle according to their own priorities. There are artists (theatre and otherwise), business career visionaries, mothers, and everything in between. And you know what? They are all in this virtual world with me. They know what it’s like to be part of a virtual team and are always there to lend a helping hand, a procedural shortcut, a formatting solution, and a ear for gossiping about our favorite celebrities (everyone needs some mindless chatter!). Just because we’re not in the same room doesn’t mean that we’re not in the same space.
So why do I love working in the virtual world? First and foremost, it allows me to move across the country to support my husband, but there are so many other amazing reasons.
No matter what the reason, a virtual job can allow for change to happen freely in your life. And the most miraculous and wonderful thing about all this is that is works both ways. It’s not just about working virtually, but it also can be about hiring virtually. Many of our clients are people whose companies and lives are shifting in big ways. Sometimes the extra help of some e-mail sifting can mean more hours home with their children, or taking over podcast production can mean they have more time to write their novel or move their own homestead.
It’s a lovely unconventional convention. And it feels good.