“You were selected - Congratulations!” This was the subject line of an email I had received in August last year to join a community of digital nomads to work and explore the world.
At the time, I had just started my second year working as a young executive at a media startup in New York City. It was everything I thought I had dreamed for myself: a director level title, my own private office, and a seat at the table. Sheryl Sandberg would have been proud.
A few months’ prior, my then-boss transitioned out of the company and most of the people I reported to sat in different offices. Every day, I would walk into my office and have little interaction with others in the office. It was my own version of “working remotely.” And while the idea of working remotely abroad didn’t seem too far-fetched, I ultimately decided not to pursue it further.
Eight months later, I would find myself leaving that startup to embark upon my next adventure: learning to code in Amsterdam. During those three months in Europe, I of course spent most of my time building my web development skills, but it was also a chance for me to work on my passion projects remotely and try out this “remote” thing. One project in particular was Diversability, a social enterprise I had created to re-brand disability through the power of community, online and off. Even though I wasn’t physically in New York, we still managed to get quite a bit done. We built partnerships with the New York Public Library and the Tech Inclusion NYC conference, were featured in Forbes and the Greater Than podcast, and started planning Diversability’s NYC event to celebrate Disability Pride Month. I even had the opportunity to share our work in Amsterdam as one of the featured speakers at CreativeMornings.
A month after returning to New York City, I was packing again. This time, I was joining the shared living startup Common as its first hire in San Francisco. This was a role where I would be working remotely for the first couple of months, interacting with my teammates in New York and Los Angeles. Initially, I worked anywhere I could get wifi, whether it was out of our Common homes, coffee shops, or even using my phone as a hotspot. Today, I’m working out of a beautiful coworking space in SoMa (South of Market, San Francisco).
The past six months have made me rethink the future of work. I do believe that we can work from anywhere, but I also believe that “anywhere” means different things to different people. For some, it could mean working from destination cities, a couple weeks to months at a time.
My experiences at Common have also made me re-imagine the future of living. I believe that both -- the future of work and the future of living -- are rooted in community. I don’t necessarily need to be abroad with beach views, but instead in environments where I am surrounded by people who support me, lift me up, and challenge me, whether those exist online or in person.
For me, that’s enough.
Tiffany Yu is the Admissions and Community Manager at the shared living startup Common in San Francisco and the Founder of Diversability, an award-winning social enterprise to re-brand disability through the power of community. In 2016, she was named a New York Business Journal Women of Influence Honoree. She has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian.