Apr 30, 2020 - JD Alex    

My remote story: Living for more than the weekend

A quick look into what drove me to choose an organization that lives and breathes it's core values and allowed me the flexibility to be a full time member of my family

This blog post is Unfiltered

What exactly does it mean to be remote? For some, it looks the same as working in a traditional office space, 9-5, glued to your computer, albeit in a different location. Maybe it is from your home office, your living room, or a co-working space. To me, working remotely means something much more. It is an opportunity to live my life how I see fit.

I grew up with a single mother. She was and still is a nurse, subject to schedules that can be quite hectic. There were many days where I found myself heating up food my mother prepped for me before she went to work, and at times I would go with her and spend the night in the doctor’s lounge at the hospital. I don’t regret or wish anything different about those times — I loved them — but I want something different for my family, and for my son.

I previously worked in the Bay Area for a corporate wellness company and the grind was real. I never turned off. I was attached to my phone answering calls and texts from our CEO at all hours of the day. I commuted roughly 12 miles and it could take me up to an hour to get home from work (for 2 years that is 21.75 days PER YEAR spent commuting). After a couple of years, my wife and I decided a change was needed. Fast forward to my time at my next position in Denver, Colorado where I had a shorter commute (on most days), though I still sat in an office for 50 hours a week. Sure, free food,coffee and ping pong tables were great perks, but it all changed once my son was born. There were days I would spend 20-30 minutes in the morning with him before leaving for the office, only to get home from work and get barely another hour with him at night. For me, that was unacceptable.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to make a change — I had to do better — for my own sanity, but more importantly for my son to know me. So… I quit. Before doing so, I asked to be given some flexibility. I used my track record as one of the company’s top performers, having never previously used a sick day and never taken a holiday. It was in vain. I was told I would never be allowed to work remotely. I was told it couldn’t be done successfully, culture happened in the office, and so on.

In the back of my mind was a startup, GitLab, that was shown to me by a friend and former co-worker. I read the Handbook, I read the values, and I didn’t believe any of it for a minute. It was too good to be true. I was in the midst of wrapping up my last few weeks at a company that was rated as a front runner of Best Places to Work, Best Company Culture, and Happiest Employees. How could this place be any different? Well, I was wrong! I read everything I could find from current employees talking about GitLab and what it has done for them, what the values mean to the company, and how Sid (CEO) promoted work-life integration and mental health first by focusing on results over input. I interviewed and, long story short, was offered a position.

Fast forward 17 months to today and life looks a lot different. My family and I moved back to where we wanted to live, we have a house we love, and I have had breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day with my wife and son as a family. In 17 months, I have been given the opportunity, the gift, of sitting down with my family for every single meal. I have enjoyed more meals with my son in these last 17 months than some get to enjoy with their kids in 17 years.

GitLab works asynchronously and employees are valued based on their results, not their input.GitLab understands as an organization that people need time off to gather their thoughts, re-center themselves, go for a bike ride or walk, take care of household activities, or pick kids up from school or your pets from doggy day care. Giving each and every employee the tools they need and the trust they deserve to work from anywhere that Wi-Fi allows.

So why do I choose remote? For me, it’s simple. I have a life, and my career is a part of that life. It is a part that I truly enjoy and also that provides for my family. A part that I do not take for granted, but it is still only a part of my life. It is not who I am, and it is not what I will be remembered for by my son. I wish to live my life every single day, and not just for the weekends. I want to be present for my family, my friends, and for myself. I want to see the world and I want to see what's in my backyard. I am able to do this because of what GitLab and remote work has offered.

Family photo

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