It was the drive that finally drove Steve Bautista into remote work as a marketing consultant. Specifically, 12 years of commuting. He was living in Rhode Island and spending his working days at Boston ad agencies. There’s only one major highway and it’s predictably jammed in both directions for a good chunk of the day. Technology was making it easier to work away from a central office and the concept was catching on.
How was the transition into remote work?
It wasn’t as difficult as I had expected. The whole landscape became very decentralized and it became clear that you could work on your own. A lot of it was the technology. People no longer needed or expected you to be sitting in their office. Especially with what I do. It’s more brain capital work and I can do that anywhere.
Just the other day, for instance, an art director located in Austin, Texas, contacted me to work on a campaign in Vancouver. We don’t have to be in the same place.
What do you like about remote work?
For me, it’s being able to walk my dog, Riley, a border collie mix, in the middle of the day. I like having a better work/life balance. I have flexibility. I can work when it makes the most sense for me.
I find I’m much healthier. I’m able to take better care of myself. I eat better, and I exercise. Those are things that were difficult when I was working in an office.
How do you make it work?
I will work for a couple of hours and then get up and go do something before sitting back down. I like having that flexibility. But, you have to be disciplined to sit back down and get the work done.
What are the challenges of working remotely?
You have to work really hard at staying connected. You can get isolated and lose perspective. When you’re working in an agency, you’re surrounded by interesting, creative people. There is a benefit to sitting in the room with them.
Especially when it comes to the work. When you’re in a central office, you can put your work up on the wall and everyone can make comments. You don’t have that when you’re on your own and it can be hard to judge your own work. Some days, you think everything you do sucks. Or, you think it’s great but it’s not.
How do you overcome the isolation?
I find people with whom I can collaborate. If they’re nearby, we do meet. Otherwise, we connect online.
I also connect with people with whom I can show my work and get honest feedback. They’ll give me opinions about what I’m working on and I’ll give my perspective. It sort of recreates that office feel.
How have things in your industry changed when it comes to remote work?
There are more people working either freelance or remotely than ever before. Companies recognize it as an option. It’s more accepted and promoted. It used to be that if you were with an agency, you had to be at your desk. Now, people are coming to realize that the work can get done even if you’re not right there. And many times, it gets done better and faster.
This is something I’ve seen across age groups. It’s not just the young people or older people with more experience.
What’s your advice to someone thinking about remote work?
If you’re considering it, make sure you master your craft first. You will be tested with the demands of remote work. You will have to wear many different hats. If you’re in advertising, you have to be as good as or better than people who are inside agencies.
You will have to be disciplined. You have to have a beginning and ending to each job and you have to know how to work efficiently and productively. But, if you are successful, there is no better way to work.