Four years ago Melanie was working at a digital marketing agency in Melbourne. Now she works remotely and has been travelling Europe for the past seven months. Here’s how Melanie has made working flexibly work for her.
This lifestyle was formed out of opportunity. I actually really liked my agency job back then, but I had a desire to travel and see the world. While I could have taken a gap year as many do, I could see an alternative path laid out for me so clearly. Why not work online while I travel? Our agency was already working with contractors around the world who I’d never met. Couldn’t I be one of those?
At the agency, I was somewhat of a generalist; a jack of all trades. I had experience in account management, website maintenance, email marketing, social media marketing and paid advertising. Having a good overview of the digital marketing landscape helped me to see a unique opportunity in Google Ads, an area with significant demand that could be completely managed online. Once the idea was formed in my mind, I couldn’t get it out. I quit my job one week later and started my business specialising in Google Ads. Here’s what I’ve gained since then.
Working flexibly comes with loads of benefits
The biggest one is being in control of my own time. Being able to do what I want, when I want, is perhaps one of the most liberating feelings in the world. I work when I’m feeling most productive and allow myself to relax when my brain is switched off.
Melanie and her partner Nathan working from a balcony overlooking Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2019 | Source: Melanie Gray
It’s taught me the importance of discipline
When you don’t have a boss to report to, it can be easy to sleep in, procrastinate and catch up on the latest Netflix series, but when you’ve got your own clients with your own work to do, those poor decisions quickly catch up with you and in the end, make life much more difficult. When you know you can relax as soon as you get all of your work done, which is usually well before 5 pm, it’s a much stronger incentive to stay focused throughout the day.
Working remotely has also helped me grow my business
I’m not limited to working with clients in Melbourne, I can work with people from anywhere around the world. While a video conference is not quite the same as a face-to-face meeting, the benefits of them are immeasurable, and I’ve gained something else from working this way.
Not having face-to-face meetings has given me back hours of the day which has tripled my time capacity and increased my productivity tenfold. Rather than driving an hour to attend an hour-long meeting, then drive an hour back, I can use those three hours to fit in three or more meetings. Now, I can manage a heap more clients! Using every hour of the day productively gives me a huge sense of satisfaction and motivation.
I’ve been surprised too…
And this was thanks to the supportiveness of the community. Prior to travelling, I spent a year building my business, expanding my client base and developing strong relationships with those clients. When I told them I would be working remotely, I was terrified they wouldn’t approve and would want to cancel their services with me. Instead, I received nothing but support from all of my clients. This is a testament to the rapidly changing world, and evidence that many organisations are already willing to adopt the flexible work model.
For me, good work is work that gives me a sense of fulfilment, while also being beneficial to my clients. This balance of satisfaction and work output is important for both parties, as work is then likely to be produced collaboratively. For me, flexible work not only produces better quality work, but a greater level of satisfaction and happiness. I believe that when workers are empowered with flexibility, everyone wins!
In the past four years I have travelled to 12 countries and have five more planned to visit in the next three months. Now that I’ve tasted the lifestyle of flexible work, I could never go back!