Working remotely, off the grid

Date: 20th February 2015

We’re super excited to have a special guest writing our blog this week.  Welcome to Steff Green: WorkflowMax marketing copywriter, award-winning novelist, sword collector, cat lover and lifestyle block enthusiast.

I’m Steff, a copywriter for WorkflowMax. If you read the WorkflowMax blog and have seen articles like 15 Songs to Help You Deal with Difficult Clients and 10 Lessons These Cats Can Teach Us About Staying on Top of Deadlines, that’s me behind the keyboard. What you probably don’t know is that I do the majority of my writing from a remote lifestyle block on the South Kaipara Head, in a home that’s completely off the electrical grid.

steff green chickens

My husband and I built our off-grid home last year. We raise a few lambs, have chickens for eggs, and are building extensive gardens and an orchard for vegetables. We decided we wanted to be self-sufficient as possible, and part of this meant being able to harvest rainwater and generate our own power from solar panels. In other words, apart from the internet connection I need for work, we’re completely off-the-grid.

What is it Like Living & Working Off-the-Grid?

It’s remarkably similar to living on the grid, actually. I live in a pretty normal, middle-class home, with running water, flushing toilets, and all the modern conveniences. We’ve just chosen to be prudent with our power use.

We cook and heat with gas, and we purged our lives of power-guzzling appliances; air-conditioning, heat pump, dishwasher, dehumidifier, heater. Instead, we designed our home to be passively heated and cooled. All our lights are LEDs, and we turn off every appliance at the wall when we’re finished using it. With four acres of gardens and animals to look after, we find we spend less time seeking entertainment from TV and the internet.

steff green solar

We have 10 solar panels, and a battery bank to store the power we generate. This will power our house for three days without any sun – any longer and we’d need to run the generator to charge the batteries again. On this system we run our entire house, including a fridge and chest freezer, all our lights, two iMacs, our TV and DVD player, a fan, whatever power tools we need, and all my husband’s music recording and speaker equipment. We don’t feel as though we’re missing anything in life at all, and not having a power bill every month is pretty awesome!

An additional advantage is that the area where we live is prone to bad storms that cut out the power. In 2014 the neighbourhood had eight extended power cuts, one of which was for three days. We do feel awfully smug looking out over a darkened valley during a power cut with all our lights on!

Working Off-Grid

I’m very blessed in that WorkflowMax allow me to work from home three days a week. This is great as my usual commute into the office is around 1:30-1:45 each way (My husband drives to his workplace, then I take a bus, then walk 15mins up a hill. It’s fun. Really fun.)

I wake up around 5:30am, and feed all the animals (including the husband). I will usually turn my computer on while I eat breakfast, check email and work on a personal project until around 7-8am, when I will start working.

Between 8am-10am the rest of my team will come online. We use Skype messaging to stay in touch throughout the day, and will sometimes jump on a call if we have something urgent to discuss. Because WorkflowMax is a cloud-based product, we run our entire team through cloud-based software. I write blog posts and create lists with spreadsheets in Google Drive. Our team tracks and collaborates on various projects with Trello, and all our blog posts and social media are scheduled, published and tracked through Hubspot.

I work until lunchtime, when I will usually head outside and do a bit of gardening or other farm chores, before returning to work and pounding the keyboard until knocking off time.

steff green cat

I will usually have dinner on the table and the cats fed by the time my husband comes home. Our evenings are spent outside doing various things around the farm or, if the weather is poor, inside working on our hobbies or watching a movie.

But Don’t You Get Distracted?

No more so than I do in the office. At home there is washing to do, and cats to play with. At work there are colleagues to talk to, nearby shops to browse in, and funny videos to watch on the internet. There are always distractions, but it’s up to you to find ways to motivate yourself to get cracking. Checking in with your team regularly helps you stay in the loop, and I enjoy my regular days in the office, instead of dreading the commute.

Despite all the hard work it’s taken to get to where we are, working and living off-the-grid is pretty awesome. I am very blessed to live in a beautiful country like New Zealand and have the support of a great company who understand the true meaning of work/life balance.

steff green workflowmax

BIO: Steff Green is a copywriter and blogger at WorkflowMax – online job management software for keeping your projects and team on time and on budget. From quotes and timesheets, right through to invoicing and reporting, WorkflowMax does the lot and more. Find out if WorkflowMax is right for your company, and check out the recently-launched WorkflowMax TV for fun and informative videos about transforming your business.

Posted in: Alexandra, Christchurch, Latest News, Queenstown, Wanaka