What’s missing from remote work

I am living in a remote village in Pakistan. And to almost everyone around me, the idea that I am working with a company based in Seattle, USA is absurd. Even more perplexing is my CEO does not go to the office either. He mostly works from home as well. I have this nagging feeling that for six months I leaving an office going job, my mother used to think I have grabbed a lottery. Sooner than later this is going to end (she likes I live with her) and I am going to head back to the city for “real job”.

She is half right though. Me moving to a city, in or outside of Pakistan, is inevitable. But not because I have to but because I want to.

Which got me thinking why? I had this imaginary reason in my head i.e. the city will give me a better lifestyle. On thinking a bit deeper though I realized that’s not the case. For the most part, my lifestyle is exactly what I want. I am just lonely. And that’s not going to change as long as I am working remote regardless of my location. I also realized that I actually have a better lifestyle of living in my hometown. I am living way below my earnings, something I am learning to appreciate. And I get to visit the city every other week to meet friends and enjoy stuff that I can’t find here.

The real reason I have come to the conclusion is that remote work has a ceiling. It’s great for stuff that you can do on your own. But not so much for things that need intense collaboration. I used the word intense deliberately. I think we are at a point where effective project management is possible via tools like Slack, Jira, Asana etc. Most of the problems associated with remote project management are just a hyped up problems of project management itself.

What I mean by intense collaboration is the type of collaboration that you need to start a new company. Or work on a new idea together. Or coming up with ideas, to begin with, while hanging out with friends/colleagues for no reason. And I believe that’s what I want to do. This seems like a very long way to say what Andreas Klinger has summed up in this tweet.

And it is. But I was interested in documenting the process through which I came to this conclusion. Not just because I wanted to write a blog post. But also because I am looking to find a possible solution to this if there is one. It’s important because my real, out of proportion, value to let’s say AngelList is not what Andreas tells me to do but rather in doing things both he and I don’t know I can do. At least not yet.