Working Remote as a GIS Analyst: Pros and Cons

Remote work is controversial, with some arguing for fully returning to the office, doing a hybrid schedule, or keeping a permanent work-from-home schedule. Personally, after moving two to three times a year for seasonal work for about 4 years, I was pleased to settle down in Arcata, CA. I looked for jobs locally and would likely not have applied for the GIS analyst position offered by EftA and the USFS had it not been advertised as remote. There are pros and cons to working from home, which depends on everyone’s unique situation. These are my pros/cons list of working remotely as a GIS Analyst.

Pros Of Remote Work:

The most significant upside is staying in the network and community I’ve built locally. This helps contribute to work-life balance, especially when work doesn’t provide socialization. It’s nice to work somewhere you already have friends. Knowing the town also means knowing what’s available to me. Here, I know where to eat, to take after-work classes, and where to have fun on the weekend. I also enjoyed not having to deal with the hassle of breaking my lease and moving to parts unknown. Removing a daily commute is a big plus for my wallet and the environment.
A laptop may not seem powerful, but the USFS GIS laptops are perfectly functional while running multiple software applications. The laptop allows me to clock into my 9-5 in different settings. This includes the homes of friends across the country or my parent’s house. I even plan on taking my laptop to a professional conference. This lets me check in on coworkers and emails while attending the conference. Furthermore, my work-from-home office was upgraded with USFS-provided gear, including monitors, a mouse, and a keyboard. This makes communicating with my team, gathering data, and taking training much more manageable.

My office view is the balcony of my apartment complex! This picture is from December, when rare snow and hail pelted coastal Arcata.

Cons of Remote Work:

Lack of ergonomic office furniture in my own home makes office work a bit uncomfortable. My apartment also lacks appropriate space for a nice office. Space away from the desk is something that would really help seperate ‘work’ from ‘home’. Noise from traffic, lawn care, and construction can also contribute to an uncomfortable work from home environment. However, there’s definitely work arounds for this such as taking the laptop to a library or a café. I also prefer in-person interactions for building a sense of community with my co-workers. Frequent communication online helps a lot with the sense of feeling like I belong on a team. Additionally, uninterrupted meeting times to hammer out goals and accomplishments also really helps.

Sometimes I run over to the campus of my old university – Cal Poly Humboldt – to take in a different office view.

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