For six years we worked for a company that launched our wandering workers lifestyle. It was a company that believed in balance. They understood that morning surf sessions and lunchtime workouts did more to boost morale among its employees than an annual cookout. Back then, people loved coming to work. This culture of activity and balance was instilled from the top level down. It was one of the driving forces behind why the founders started the company in the first place, and it was this same corporate attitude that made it easier to ask for permission to work remotely.
Then came the shift. In 2013 there was a changing of the guards at the executive level that irreversibly altered the company culture. At first it didn’t mean much for us remote workers. Although we could sense change was brewing, our teams were still in tact. In fact, we were perhaps better off in that we were buffered from the gossip and general negativity that permeated the office. It was status quo for about a year…until a private equity firm bought us out.
Remote workers or not, this meant change for everyone. The entire office was even more on edge than before. Some people jumped ship in anticipation of layoffs but Jordan and I decided to ride it out. We had a good situation and wanted to extend it as long as possible. In the end, that decision bought us another year of wandering while working for the same company. It also gave us time to flirt with other opportunities while still receiving a paycheck.
Six months after the buyout, the big changes hit. Nearly 100 employees were let go and my boss was one of them. She’s the one who advocated for my remote work situation and trusted me to get my work done, regardless of my location. Without her, my buffer was gone. On top of that, several people on my team found new work because they didn’t want to wait for another round of layoffs. All of a sudden I found myself with a new boss and potentially new team members who didn’t know me and had no baseline against which to measure my work ethic.
Three months later, the notice went out that corporate wanted all remote workers to move back to the office by the end of the year. I knew I couldn’t do it. My enthusiasm for the job had been waning but I held on because I was addicted to the remote work lifestyle. Take away that perk and I knew it was time to move on.
Jordan’s situation was a little different. Being in sales, he was unaffected by the ultimatum, however, his division did get sold. He was given permission to continue working remotely but four months later, the new company let go all of the sales people they gained in the acquisition. At this point, Jordan was almost relieved. He had been unhappy for a while, wanting growth and education out of an increasingly menial job, and with the acquisition he became an even smaller cog in the corporate wheel.
He too was given notice and by the time his last day rolled around, he had an offer from another company. During his search, he considered every option, including local in-office work in our current location—Vermont. The job he took, and incidentally the one he was most excited about, allows him to continue working from home.
We learned several things during this nearly yearlong transition period. While we had been living our lives mostly on a hunch, it turns out you can dictate your own fate. You just have to make the decision to continue living life on your terms at every transition point. The changes that took place at our company in San Diego confirmed what we suspected all along—you can live the life you imagine, and things will usually work out for the best.
Here are five key lessons the experience reinforced for us.
Do What’s Best for You
Take chances and make decisions based on what your gut tells you to do. The company will always do what’s best for the company, so you should always do what’s best for you. Figure out what will ultimately make you the happiest and do that. The decision for Jordan and I to work remotely, allowed us to travel around North and South America for three years while earning an income. It also set us up in exactly the position we needed to be in when the company changed course.
Everyone Is Affected
It didn’t matter that we were remote when the company transitioned to new owners. In fact, it was the in-office workers who were laid off first while many remote workers were given the opportunity to keep their jobs if they moved back. In Jordan’s case, the selloff and subsequent layoff was inevitable, regardless of his location.
The Choice Is Always Yours
Both Jordan and I were given the opportunity to move to the corporate office (Jordan’s offer came from the new company), but we were unwilling to compromise our lifestyle for those particular jobs. Even though, at the time, it felt very much like our fate was not in our own hands, it was all along. It was our choice to hold on or move on.
Change Is Often for the Best
The corporate shift came at a time when both Jordan and I were ready for the next step. Our jobs had gotten stale and we wanted stimulation. In the end, we both received severance in exchange for the opportunity to move on to even better remote work situations.
Things Tend to Work Out
We set the intention to work remotely many years ago. Everyday, we make decisions with that intention in the back of our minds. The ultimate goal is to live life on our terms. We find that if we’re true to that, our original intention is protected. Once you make a decision to head in a certain direction, the universe tends to help you along that path.