Summer is here and so are the dreams of escaping to the beach. For many of us, the ultimate dream would be to work from the beach itself. It sounds like the ultimate win: spending time in paradise and also getting paid for being there. But like with all things that sound too good to be true, so is this one.
There’s a few aspects of it that don’t quite make sense if you think about it for a while - from strictly pragmatic issues, to bigger, more “meaning of life” ones. Let’s dive into each of them one by one.
The pragmatism of it
When we think beach, the first things to come to mind is the sun, the sand and the sea. All sound pleasant at first glance, but all of them are what makes working in these conditions hell for a number of reasons.
First off, the sun. Working in full sunlight is the obvious no go. If for no other reason, it’s because you’d need to either squint or wear sunglasses which limit what you can see on your laptop. Also remember that modern screens aren’t typically powerful enough to provide enough contrast bright conditions actually comfortably see what’s displayed- this becomes especially troublesome when working with text.
Another non-obvious issue with sunshine is reflections in the screen itself. It’s very likely that it’s made of glass what basically turns it into a mirror and all you can see is yourself sweating in front of your laptop. You can reduce reflections by wearing dark coloured tops but who wants to do that in hot weather?
This brings us to another problem with the sun: it’s hot. You’re hot, your laptop gets hot (even the most performant ones will overheat if you keep them in high temperatures), and you feel even warmer because suddenly you have to touch this block of heated aluminium or molten plastic. I’m not even going to mention how this reduces the lifespan of your machine.
You can argue that this can be solved by sitting in a shade, but can it really? There’s still going to be sand and potentially salt particles from the sea which will get under the keys on your keyboard and make typing progressively more crunchy and annoying. Again, let’s skip the part about how electronics and salt don’t exactly mix well.
You could argue that you can get yourself a cover for your machine but are they ever comfortable to use, and protective enough to not let anything get through them?
Also good luck finding a beach with a reliable Wi-Fi or phone reception good enough not to slow you down enough to forget what you were working on.
So long story short, when working on a beach you end up hot, sweaty, and your laptop and yourself are covered in sand and sunscreen. It doesn’t sound particularly comfortable- and that’s already assuming that you manage to get yourself a nice table to sit at or at least a lounge chair. Working from a blanket is obviously not an option.
A better alternative
With all these, you might as well just drop the idea of working from the beach itself and work from a nearby cafe instead. This would solve the Wi-Fi issues, as well as you and your devices overheating. Even better if you find yourself a co-working space.
But then suddenly it’s not much different from working from home or an office in your home town, and the whole dream of working from the beach vanishes. I’d argue that it’s a good thing, because it gives you a nice separation between work and leisure time - mixing the two can lead to burnout and frustration since you never have a proper rest and recharge time.
You could argue that if you use a pomodoro technique or any other system that gives you regular breaks throughout the day (so basically any system that’s worth adopting), you can just go for quick dips in the sea during your breaks.
Maybe it’s just me, but having to have “leisure time” on a schedule sounds terrible. Going into the sea for 10 minutes, and 10 minutes exactly means having to check your watch all the time and prevents you from actually relaxing.
And then you have to rush back to your laptop, all salty and sandy, only causing yourself more hassle for the ability to orchestrate a packed schedule that only resembles a dream.
In reality it’s more of a nightmare, where there’s never any real time off but you’re probably also not as productive at work because you’d rather be on the beach. I believe the only viable way forward is to either work or not work, no in between (Yoda style).
When you’re working- really focus on getting things done without getting distracted with cats on the internet. When you choose to take a break, make it count, don’t just do it half way while checking the time and your work emails.
And this brings us to the last point:
Let’s dig deeper
Why is working from a beach so appealing? Everyone will have their own reasons that they will share with others, but I imagine most of them boil down to the same three things: being tired, overworked and not satisfied with your job or even life - essentially craving a break while feeling stuck.
When you put it this way, it becomes very clear that the beach is not the solution, it’s just another form of escapism that won’t solve the actual problems in your life.
I’m not going to tell you to go and find a satisfying job because that’s not always feasible, but career passion shouldn’t be a requirement for a fulfilling life. What I would strongly advise however is to acknowledge this situation rather than being in denial about it.
Accepting that your job is not your passion and you’re only doing it because you need the money can be a very freeing moment, and it can turn your life around. It may allow you to live your life more intentionally, finding fulfilment outside of the workplace.
We’ve been told that we should be passionate about work for too long, being sold the dream that we can have it all. It’s time to acknowledge that it’s not true and free ourselves from these unrealistic expectations. And then we can go to that beach and actually enjoy the time we spend there.