For most of my professional life I’ve been working in various types of offices. This pattern was interrupted by two years spent at a BJJ academy (you can find out how these two compare here). Neither of these felt right for me, so I’ve tried something new – remote working.
So, what’s it like to work remotely and train BJJ?
Training and working around it
When remote working is mentioned, many people assume it means that you can train and work around it. This is not exactly the case.
Or it could be, but you may have to go freelance. The difference between remote working and freelancing is that if you work remotely, you are still an employee. You get a steady flow of things to do and you receive a pay check for doing them every month. The intensity is relatively balanced, just like in a regular office. On the other hand, you are required to keep rough office hours and go to occasional meetings or participate in online calls if your company is 100% remote.
Being a freelancer effectively makes you your own business. Apart from having to process and pay your own taxes and health insurance, it also means that you’re constantly searching for new work. You may be extremely busy one month, but have nothing to do the next. This can be exhausting until you’ve built a stable client base. This option won’t work for many professions.
You may still be able to squeeze training three times per day into your remote working schedule, but if you’re asked to do certain things at a particular time there isn’t a way around it.
Remote working doesn’t mean working less
As a remote employee, you’ll still have the same amount of things to do. However, productivity and effectiveness are the keywords here.
If you have a very productive day and finish your tasks early, then you’ll be spending a little less time at work that day. Even though the overall amount of work will be the same, your hours may be shorter. On the other hand, some days will be extremely busy. If you’re not working in the office, it can be hard to stop after your 8 hours, if you’ve got a deadline looming over your head.
The greatest saving here is time. Remote working eliminates the need for commuting. This saves me 3 h per day, 2 of which would be spend travelling to and from the office on a terribly packed London tube (a traumatic experience every time) and the remaining time would be consumed by getting ready for the day.
This extra time not only allows you to pursue more worthwhile things, but is also extremely helpful in terms of maintaining mental hygiene.
You can train more while working remotely
And easily too, thanks to the commute-less life. If you live in proximity to your gym, you could be there for the morning, lunchtime and the evening classes if you wanted to. My main gym is an hour away from my house, but the one where I teach is right next to it. This allows me to do drills at lunchtime and later travel to the HQ for evening classes.
Remote working relies on you doing what you need to do (and well) roughly within office hours. There’s a lot of flexibility and options in terms of training times, life admin and other chores. The extra free time is a game changer too.
Does it get lonely?
If you’re the kind of person who likes to do much of their socialising in the office, then remote working is probably not for you.
However, if you enjoy splitting your time into parts dedicated to working with 100% focus and effectiveness and parts where you’re only having fun, then this will be ideal for you.
Being on your own eliminates most distractions and as a result you are much more productive. There is nobody to disturb you in the middle of a task or to ask you for a favour when you’re focusing on something that needs to be ready NOW.
This means that during your work time, you do focus on just that. But when the hard part is done, training during the day or even in the evening makes it easy satisfy your social needs. My team meets once a week and it’s great to catch up on what we’ve been doing and what’s going on with everyone. Balance is an important factor in working from home.
Benefits and downsides
Working remotely not only gives you more time to train or do other things, which are important to you (train even more?), but it also provides financial stability and often an easier path of career progression than a freelance job.
Nevertheless, these things come at a price. In order to be a successful remote employee, you need to maintain a constant level of self-discipline. You’ll likely have to bear much more responsibility and will sometimes have to deal with things on your own.
Remote working can be stressful and exhausting, but it’s been pretty great so far. What are your working from home stories?