Career 24 August 2017
If you’ve considered or researched working remotely in any capacity, I’m sure you’ve seen the myriad of studies that discuss the positive outcomes: increased revenue and decreased expenditure for companies, environmental impact, faster company growth, etc. And all of those things are truly awesome. But something that’s not fully transparent from these studies is the full depth of how much it can improve an individual’s quality of life.
I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years, and during this time I’ve seen the conversation around remote work slowly growing. The remote work revolution that’s taking place is in it’s new “sexy” phase - and if you’re following it, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen the stunning images of people working from mountaintops, articles titled “how I made $9,000 a month working from Bali” or the companies popping up for remote worker adventures - again, all truly awesome. But what does the remote work revolution mean for someone like me? A mom in her 30’s with no ability to just disappear for a year to work in the jungle? Well, it’s not quite as sexy, but it is just as awesome!
Despite being able to have ‘complete’ freedom to work from anywhere as is often touted, remote work has still had a real impact in making me a healthier, happier, more productive human being. Here’s how
Why it’s made me happier
Bye bye commute! I would consider myself to be a pretty kind person. (You know, I’m polite to waiters, I hold the door open for elderly folk, I make cookies for the new neighbors and all that jazz) - but the second someone cuts me off on the highway, I immediately resort to using some very unsavory language and gestures. And I know I’m not alone here people. One recent study showed over a 7 year study period, there were more than 12,000 preventable injuries and over 200 murders associated directly to road rage!
And while of course most of population would consider this outrageous, it just goes to show the level of stress that’s associated with commuting during peak times. You don’t understand how much that stress truly contributes to your overall well being until you are able to stop being a part of that madness and you watch other people go through it from the sidelines in silent relief. Not to mention, it really gives you back like 2 hours of your day that you can spend doing other things. Which leads me into the next point…
Work life balance isn’t a unicorn. It actually does exist, and it can be almost easy to achieve when you take out a constricting schedule and a long commute. If you weren’t spending 30 minutes in the morning picking out an outfit, 30 minutes packing your lunch or doing makeup/getting gas etc. and then another 30-45 minutes heading to the office and back, that’s almost 3 hours of your day, more than 1,000 hours a year you can spend doing other things that actually make you truly happy like hanging out with your family or pursuing a hobby. You know, living your life.
And another big thing that has made me happier working remotely? The trust I feel from my company and the pride in my work that comes from that. As moral adults, why shouldn’t we be able to work where and when it best suits us? I’m a firm believer that the people who would slack off and take advantage of working remote are the same people who are going to eventually fail in a corporate environment anyway. My company knows it, and everyone else should too. Contrary to what some bigger corporations might think, having a boss literally breathing down your neck doesn’t make you want to achieve more in your position. Why is that just now becoming a revelation?
Why I’m Healthier
It all kind of goes back to the point above - more time! More time to cook healthy food (and eat a breakfast that includes more than just black coffee and a bag of jellybeans I found in my car), more time to exercise when it suits me. 1pm Yoga class? Sign me up! I’ll work around it. Plus it will help me focus during my late afternoon meetings. Quick walk around the block with my dog at 10:30am? Yes I think I will, and during that I can brainstorm work ideas while my blood is actually flowing. Need to make a doctor appointment? Oh, I actually can do that now without having to know 3 weeks in advance, before I even know I’m going to get sick, to get it approved - nice! I can’t stress this enough, when you’re in charge of planning your own day, you will feel more balanced and you will have more time to make yourself a priority which benefits everyone involved - you, your family, AND your employer / business.
Why I’m More Productive:
Some people might argue that remote workers miss out on much needed collaboration with co-workers. I could debate this point all day considering the advances in face-to-face meeting software, but let’s even put that point aside for now and look at a couple others.
1. Just watch this TedTalk from Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom. It will tell you everything you need to know about why being outside the office has been proven to increase worker productivity.
2. I am most productive in the mornings for two reasons: silence, and coffee. I like knocking out part of my day while everyone is still asleep, and with the flexibility of remote work, I can do that. I also like being done with my workday by the time my after-lunch induced coma hits and I become a breathing robot. Again, working while you are the sharpest helps you get more done.
3. I loved my old cubicle-mate at my last job, we’ll call her Susan, and her kids were truly adorable. But I probably spent 5 hours a week just listening to stories about their sports, friends and school work. I enjoyed it, it was fun, but it also took time away from projects I could have been doing at the time that then kept me at work later and took time away from my own family. Talks with coworkers are nice, but they can become a huge distraction in today’s open office environments, one of the biggest I’d argue. And if you remove that distraction, you’re going to see the amount you can get done really skyrocket. No offense to all the Susan’s out there - you keep cubicle life interesting so keep doing you, girl!
What we’ve discussed here is honestly just the tip of the iceberg. So, even if it’s not in the cards for you to quit your job and take your laptop to Tahiti, I’d still encourage you to pursue working remotely. If you can’t find a new remote job, take steps to make your current job more flexible (Find tips for doing this with this blog from 1 million for work flexibility). The remote work conversation is going to continue growing. Become a part of it, and realize for yourself the difference it makes!
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.