Before working at 37signals, I worked as a florist, a barista, an education intern at a theatre company, and a university instructor. I was happy at all my previous jobs, but the culture at 37signals got me. And I got it. During my interview with Jason, my main concern was whether or not everyone at 37signals enjoyed each other’s company. We all spend more time with our coworkers than our friends, so it’s important that we appreciate and respect each other. By the time I purchased and wore a horse mask at the office, I knew we had all clicked.

I lived in or around Chicago nearly my whole life. With a lifetime of friends and a network of artists and writers, it seemed like the best place for me. I could meet friends at the Art Institute garden for lunch and head back to 37signals HQ in time finish up my day’s work. The Garfield Park Conservatory was a short bike ride away in the summer or a bus ride away in the winter. It was idyllic city life.

Then, something changed — I needed a cultural shift. My parents left Chicago a decade earlier and my brother was about to move to St. Louis to be closer to his wife’s family. Family wasn’t holding me to the city anymore, and I moved back to Chicago after grad school because I had always imagined Chicago as my home.

37signals wasn’t holding me to Chicago either; I’ve worked from Kansas, Berlin, South Carolina, San Francisco, New York, Portland, Austin, Colorado, and a train to and from Ann Arbor.

By the time I told Jason that I wanted to move to Portland, he already knew. I had spent two months in Oregon working during the day and exploring on my time off. I went to Astoria and watched sea lions as they barked at each other like the sad and soulful creatures they are. I annoyingly screamed, “HEY YOU GUUUUUUUYS!” at Haystack Rock. I camped in total darkness underneath all the stars on Saddle Mountain. I stayed at the Sou’wester Lodge, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the coast.

Jason gave me the +1 in November and I moved to Portland at the end of January. While I miss seeing my Chicago colleagues every week, I’m more productive and happier where I am now. That newfound happiness and productivity helped me create a space conducive to my midwestern work ethic.

This is an example of the kind of personal freedom remote working allows. When I needed a cultural shift in my personal life, I didn’t have to leave the job that I love. 37signals granted me the freedom to live my life where I want, as long as I agree to visit Chicago every few months. In just a few days, I’ll go back to Chicago for a company-wide meet-up. It’ll be my first time working from the office since I left. I can’t wait to reunite with the horse mask.