Collaboration Superpowers PodcastFor almost a year, I went back to the office and worked full time… after working remotely for over 8 years.

There’s a lot I enjoyed about the experience: I enjoyed working with a team of people. I had fun colleagues. I enjoyed the lunch walks in the park. I enjoyed the brainstorming sessions. I found most of the work challenging and enjoyable.

But… I also learned a few things about myself.

I like to have control over my schedule

Being required to arrive at the office every day before 9am made me feel caged in. For example, many mornings, I got up extra early so I could go running before work. On the days when I felt strong and wanted to go a little further, I couldn’t because I wouldn’t make it to the office “on time”. Now… if there were a specific reason to start at 9am, I consider that a different story. But the reason was “That’s what time we start”. And over time, I started to have an allergic reaction to that lack of reason.

I’m a “highly sensitive person” and don’t do well in an open-office environment

My workspace was a large rectangular table where I sat with 5 other people who spoke to each other most of the day. Often, there was music playing in the “background”. The noise and the chaos of the room didn’t seem to bother people most of the time – but it turns out that I am highly sensitive, and I had a hard time focusing. By the end of the day, I felt completely overstimulated and exhausted. I simply do better when I have the option to do my work in a quiet space.

I thrive on collaboration, and yet, I love working remotely

With my high sensitivity, you’d think I’d do better working alone. But that’s not the case at all. Ironically, while working at a noisy, physical office, I was still starved for collaboration. I mainly worked on my tasks alone because the company wasn’t big enough to have more than one person doing each function (with the exception of the development team). I craved the meetings I had with my colleagues, I longingly watched the dev team having their daily stand-ups and weekly retrospectives, and (looking back, I see) I unconsciously schemed ways to get people together to brainstorm.

At night, I would rush home so I could start my remote collaboration session with Gretchen – or interview people for the book that I am working on. All my remote projects were thriving and becoming richer and more fun than ever.

So even though I was working with a team of people in the same location, my work wasn’t as motivating as when I was collaborating virtually from my apartment. And then it dawned on me, that it wasn’t the remote nature of the work that I loved so much, it was the thriving collaborative relationships I was involved with. And that’s when I realized… that collaboration is my superpower!

I like to bounce ideas off of people. I like to learn new ways of doing things. And I like to laugh and wear silly hats.

What is your superpower?