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Finding success as a remote worker in a creative industry

As a young professional, I have heard my fair share of workplace horror stories. From the micromanaging boss, the terrible commute or the nonstop corporate red tape drama, almost everyone has had a workplace-from-hell type experience and has felt the need to escape to a new place of work.

Making that leap to a new company can be daunting and frankly a bit scary. The fear is that it is only a matter of time before the squeaky-clean image the company presented during your interview fades and is replaced by its less-than-ideal true atmosphere. But what if you rarely see your co-workers in person and the workplace of the company is the comfort of your own home? Will that solve any of the all-too-common workplace issues you come across?

Remote work is a growing trend across the globe, and a recent Global Workplace Study by IWG found that 85 percent of businesses reported increased productivity and 82 percent of employees saw their work/life balance improve when there is the flexibility to do so. But does remote work benefit every industry? In particular, how does remote employment impact the productivity and morale of those engaged in creative businesses such as music production and licensing?

When I first accepted my job at ALIBI Music Library a little over a year ago, I was skeptical. Not only was it a rare instance of looking at the responsibilities and being able to say, “I can absolutely do that,” but the company the remote-based work was for was located in my non-music-centric hometown of Bethlehem.

Right away, the introverted, semi-misanthrope in me was ecstatic to accept, but there was also a part of me that was wary the offer was too good to be true. What if working without having a boss physically around me killed my productivity? Would I become distracted more and produce less? Would I find that not being around other coworkers would make me more reclusive and likely to shun social activities than I already am?

I am happy to say that after my first year of remote work, I have grown to appreciate and take full advantage of the benefits that working remotely can provide. Knowing that I have the ability to have a late night during the week and simply start my day later has given me more flexibility to enjoy my creative outlets and hobbies.

Being able to go to the gym in the morning, to take a lunch, or go to an appointment during the day has improved my general mood and lowered my stress. Most importantly, I find my creativity and my motivation to create and do things for myself has grown.

By not being boxed into a strict 9-to-5 job with a constantly nagging boss, I am producing a higher quality of work and am generally happier to start my day.

Speaking with the other creative employees at ALIBI, I have also found that I am not alone in this feeling. Like me, they experienced improvement of in mood and work output since joining the company. But what is perhaps most surprising is that we all believe our unique situation has given us an office culture that is distinctly our own, and it’s evident to outsiders when they meet us.

Working remotely has implanted a camaraderie that benefits us all by making moments when we are physically together special. When we see other ALIBI employees in person, it feels more like a family reunion than an office function.

I have also come to realize that there is a unique shared mindset between us. Rather than choosing an office-based job, we sought remote-based work because we knew it would be more beneficial to who we are.

While my team is thriving, I believe such benefits are hardly limited to those in music production. For other creatives making the switch to remote employment, there are many benefits but also a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Stay Healthy – Get a gym membership and use it. Take the dog for a walk or walk to get coffee. Starting the day by getting your blood moving helps improve your workflow, keeps you happy, and most importantly, gets you out of the house. The remote worker may find they’ve worked a 12-hour day without ever leaving the house. When this becomes routine, it can feed depression.
  2. Make Lists and Track Projects – Without a physical boss around to help keep efforts focused, it can be easy to let projects slip. You’ll be much more likely to stay on track and know what you’ve accomplished if you keep both physical and digital task reminders and to-do lists.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Chat with Co-workers – You do not have to give up having office friendships and relationships just because you are remote based. Keeping your co-workers in touch with who you are outside of work enhances your relationships and can create an office culture regardless of your location. Video chatting can also create a personal connection between co-workers by letting them see who you are and your personality in ways that do not come across in text and voice communications. There seems to be a common tendency throughout remote work to avoid video calls that I think needs to be changed.

I would strongly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity work remotely to give it a try. Although it may not be for everyone, I believe the benefits for a person’s mental health and personal life greatly outweigh the possible negative effects people may think of.

 

Eddie Mackavage is a Metadata Analyst at Bethlehem-based ALIBI Music Library, a leading provider of music and sound effects for license in advertising, trailers, promos, programming, video games and all other forms of multimedia content.

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