The next frontier in remote work: working from a bubble?

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I’ve been working from home since COVID-19 came calling like a telemarketer we couldn’t find to hang up on. The world changed. Those fortunate enough to have meaningless (non-essential) jobs initially worked from the couch, rested our laptops on our chests, stuck out short email responses with otter paws, wrists bent at 90 degrees, and the company ergonomics department was nowhere to confess.

The world ended anyway. So we’d wake up in our pajamas and never take them off, or hold video meetings from the waist down, with half our bodies “working” while the other half was devoted to the “from home” part of the job. the equation.

Then the pandemic ended. Well-known companies that initially promised to allow many employees to work from home indefinitely have started to retrace their steps, citing productivity, collaboration, office culture, serendipity, etc. Employees are still reluctant.

It took me some time to realize that working from home doesn’t have to be literal. For example, I could work from someone else’s home. I could work from hotels. The key was internet access. Meanwhile – say what you will about him – that controversial wizard Elon Musk took the Starlink satellite internet beyond beta mode and into reality. So I bought an RV, outfitted it with Wi-Fi, and set out two winters ago to work from a much smaller house on wheels in warmer climates. I let the snow pile up in Minnesota while visiting national and state parks and forests in North and South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. There were beaches. The sand piled up in the camper. That first trip I saw maybe one different Starlink at every campsite I visited.

This winter I visited Big Bend National Park and then trekked through forests and parks in New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California, Nevada and Southern Utah—anywhere the weather was nice and I could work outside. This year it seemed like every fifth camper had a Starlink. The world is changing – quickly.

At work, my boss thinks it’s important that the work gets done, but not so much where it gets done. And as long as you are a diligent employee who also cares about your work, your job will get done and it will be done well.

And now I’ve been thinking about buying a boat, a boat you can sleep on. The thing with Starlink is that little or no tree cover is ideal, and two hours north lies the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior, with its welcoming shorelines of coastal communities, camping opportunities, and even rarely visited islands that happen to form an area. National Park. Or I could float down the Mississippi River and Mark Twain to New Orleans, and maybe dance a little better on land because of my new sea legs. I could wear an eye patch. Nobody knows me there.

Where else can I work from home? Planes have WiFi, but it is expensive to fly and the flights are relatively short. Can I work from a hot air balloon? Yes, but space may be tight and I would be exposed to the elements. What about a hot air balloon? Is that available? And if I let my boss know, would that raise eyebrows? If I set my work calendar to indicate ‘working from a bubble’, would that be crossing an unwritten line and showing off convention a little too frivolously? There might even be a certain amount of jealousy as I hovered over my former physical office on my way to Patagonia, edge of the world. What are the rules here?

CEOs increasingly want employees to be able to work in the office again, perhaps because she are in the office. After all, what’s the point of rising to the top if there’s no one around to see you at the top? Isn’t there an unwritten rule that if you make $5, $10 million, or even $16 million a year, you have to be highly visible? (The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the average pay for CEOs of the largest companies was $15.6 million last year.) You need to be in the office.

Whereas if you earn a fraction of that, say about 0.00384% of that – about what the average worker earns – can’t we operate from a bubble?

Adam Overland, from Robbinsdale, is a writer and editor. He writes about his travels and other experiences

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