Home office, a taste of early retirement

Here we go: I finally work remotely from home one day per week!
I need to be at the office only four days instead of five. You can't believe how one more day at home can change everything, until you experimented it!

There was this initial goal I did set to myself a long time ago which was to work 80%.
I calculated what would be my salary and the cut would be too large for various reasons, the main one being our journey towards early retirement which would be extended by some more years.
So after checking with Mrs. MP which remote day would fit best in our household schedule, I decided to go for the tradeoff of home office!

Steps to make your remote workday run smoothly

  • Make it clear to your colleagues when you are available
    During my first days of home office, I didn't inform precisely my colleagues of when I would be available during the day, and by which means. The result was that people were pissed off because they tried to reach me and I was replying only some hours later.
    We discussed about this issue and since then, I have setup a clear schedule in my Google Calendar stating when and how I am reachable. Everyone is happy as my fellows now know when to contact me, and I know when I have uninterrupted time slots at disposal for some focused work.

  • Inform your customers that you are available by email and not by phone on those days
    If you have a position which requires customer interaction, then explain to your customers that you are only reachable by email this day of the week. This will avoid frustration. If you're in a good relationship with them, you can even explain them that you're lucky enough to have a company who accepts home office.
    I did it and I was surprised that many people told me that it is so cool to be able to experiment that, take more time for yourself, your family, etc. They might be slightly jealous, but happy for you. And they also might ask you some questions about how you organize it, what's your setup at home, etc. Nice exchanges to foresee!

  • Clearly communicate about it with your family/children to manage expectations
    When you are physically at home, there are some assumptions that you will take care of the dishes, do some laundry, pick up the phone if it rings, etc. I mean, come on, you're at home after all. And it only takes you few minutes!
    You have to be clear about the fact that in the sentence "working from home", there is also the word "working"!
    The hardest part to handle is mainly for the kids to understand that Daddy is at home but can't play all the time with them...
    I now (try to) use a tradeoff which is to timebox 1h of my day when we play together, and then they have to play together on their own. I explained them the rule and since, it (usually) goes well.

Basically, as many things in life, it's all a matter of communication and organization.
Once everyone got used to it, the home office day becomes a habit and you can start to enjoy the good parts of it!

Home office: the good parts

As Mustachians like to say, the best things in life are the ones you can't buy. And remote work contains many good parts on which you can't put a price tag on. Let's get a taste of early retirement!

It starts with this feeling of freedom that you have when you wake up later than usual. Alarm clock still rings early on in the morning (child at school anyone?), but you feel more happy than the other four days knowing that you will drop the commute routine part.
Indeed, at the time you normally think about getting on your bike to catch the train, you are still enjoying a good breakfast with your children!
In case yours are at school like mine, you will have the pleasure to accompany them to school, and come back home with a big smile on your face realizing that you just used your invaluable time for the highest priority in your life! The smile gets even bigger when you think about your workday to come: sitting on your comfy sofa, with a glass of fresh orange juice, and Spotify playing a nice acoustic playlist.

Enters another good part of home office: no outside disturbance like phonecalls nor colleagues coming to your desk asking for this or that project. Only you and your focused work. You can plan your day as you want and enjoy for once to stick to this plan!

As things get done quicker at home, I also leverage my remote workday to make personal appointments with bank and other similar companies which usually force you to take some worktime off.
I'm glad (and lucky) that I can work from almost anywhere via emails and Slack!

It's then lunch time (prepared the evening before to optimize time). One more invaluable moment you spend with the ones you love most. Amazing feeling!

Afternoon is at the moment a no-school-time for children but they are napping so there is still a calm atmosphere.
When I have enough overtime to compensate, there are two main things I love to do during these afternoon: the first being to blog while children are napping. No noise except Spotify and the keyboard sounds. That's during these writing sessions I have the most inspiration!
The second thing is obviously to actually take a nap while kids do! If that's not pure luxury, then I don't know what that word means!

The cherry on the cake comes with the monthly daycare bill! This moment when you feel that you get a discount because you're unfortunate enough to have to work remotely and enjoy to spend more time with your children. It is such a double win: more time and more money!!!

Feedback after some months of home office

Even though it's not really like one more day of retirement per week, it's really a very good taste of it!
I had some issues at the beginning as I tended to take a nap with my children too easily while people were expecting me to be available...
It clearly needs some time to adapt to this new way of working. For myself, but also for my colleagues and family.
What I started to do was to optimize my time spent during commute and workday so to leverage every minute spent outside of the house. This way, I work a bit longer during office days and work a bit less while working remotely. Again, it's all a matter of organization.

The benefits listed above are almost all intangible except for the daycare bill. But for me, it isn't possible to put any price tag on these as they are like a piece of freedom you offer yourself every week.
As of today, I wouldn't return to a five workday-week!
I would nevertheless keep the home office ratio at a maximum of 40%, because I value team work and collaboration a lot.

Next step: part-time for real!

That was a goal I did set to myself a long time ago and that I know is possible thanks to my company policies. Also, in Switzerland, this is common practice to work 40, 60 or 80%. It's totally different than France for example, where you have as options either part time (50%), or full time (100%).
So I keep in mind this 80% employment rate as my target goal once it will fit with our early retirement and financial freedom plans!
Until then, home office for the win!

What about you?

Are you working part-time or doing some home office? For which reasons? Was it hard to setup or get used to it?
In case you think it is impossible for your kind of job, don't hesitate to still post a comment so that we can brainstorm together about other options. Things like working 100% on a four days workweek for instance.
There are always alternatives solutions if you are ready to change your routine!



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