Remote work has taken off in the past five years, something we hear more about as social media, entrepreneurship, consulting and development continue to grow. According to Forbes, remote work is no longer a privilege: It's become the standard operating mode for at least 50 percent of the U.S. population.
In the digital age, technology rules most everyone's life—even more those who don't see their colleagues daily. Jaime Beckstrom, marketing manager for a virtually based environmental services consulting firm, comprises the company's only West Michigan support and hasn't reported to a traditional office in years.
Jaime notes it's all about having strong communication tools. "I find myself always 'plugged in' so I can reach my team, but it can be a blessing and a curse."
Working remotely means you're a phone or Skype away and there are always emails or text messages to be sent.
It's easy for Jaime to be completely entrenched in work, yet she knows she has to come up for air.
"I feel like many women just get incredibly busy and even lose sight of taking care of themselves and their own needs," said Jaime, who tries to be conscious of her tech-free time.
"In order to reconnect with the people around me, I have to disconnect."
Working remotely opens the door to more flexibility and even more freedom. With that flexibility and freedom comes accountability.
Jenn Fowler, a senior account executive with MetLife, notes that working remotely does not mean no boundaries.
"Sure, I can take lunch with a friend in the middle of the day. But if everyone screwed around, working remote wouldn't work. I may work alone, but I do have a team that expects me to pull my weight."
It's important to focus, whether you're remote or in-office. While working from home and getting things done around the house may work for some, it's not ideal for everyone.
"I'm not trying to do it all. I don't feel that guilt for not trying to multitask every day, because I should be focused on my work," Jenn said."I outsource what I can, so when I'm not working, I'm doing the things that feed my mind and my soul. I'm connecting with friends and family and I'm finding balance."
Remote work isn't for everyone. Katy Lewis, founder of legal search and recruiting firm Catamount Search Partners, has been working from home for eight years and loves the work she does.
"My entire job is about making connections and finding the right fit for people. I'm never not in contact with someone and making connections—and I can do it anywhere," said Katy, who never felt lonelier than when she worked in a firm, at a desk.
"I've worked from anywhere, at any time," Katy added, noting she realized she needed balance and time to pull back when her oldest daughter said, "Sometimes, I wish cellphones weren't invented."
Katy finds that with the right amount of self-motivation, anyone can get the work done: "It doesn't always matter if you sit at a desk from 9 until 5." She continues evaluating what she needs from her job and recommends self-evaluation to anyone working remotely.
April Simone Stevens is a Grand Rapids-based lifestyle blogger. Along with writing, she enjoys photography, reading and graphic design. When not working, April Simone spends much of her time exploring the city's various breweries and restaurants—and visiting Grand Rapids Art Museum as often as possible. Keep up with her adventures and reflections on Instagram: @april.simoneee
This article originally appeared in West Michigan Woman.