The current world situation forced a significant amount of workforce to stay at home and work from home. A lot of people talk about shifting the whole sectors to remote work. I think we forget too often that the current state of affairs has nothing to do with working remotely.
What is remote work for me?
Let's make it simple; it is a possibility of providing service from any distraction-free (or with a distraction that I can control) place of my choice, with minimal technical requirements needed to make work happen.
When you stay at home, and your boss asks you to work from home, and your kids are at home because schools are closed, and your partner stays at home and tries to also work from there – this is not a usual remote work. This is working from home in times of exceptional circumstances with distractions you cannot get rid of (read kids, for example).
Some good might come out of the lockdown after all. I can imagine companies can be convinced to allow working remotely more often after the pandemic is over, overall this is the future for all jobs that require some dose of creativity
In regards to controlling your environment, for example, I like working with the TV on in the background, this is not mentally exhausting as I'm in control, I can push a button on my remote, and it goes away. I think this is very relevant to any kind of remote work – being in control of your environment has a high impact on your productivity and mental health. Interestingly for me, some hard to control events (friends asking for a quick chat over the coffee, visiting co-workers in another building, walk after lunch with the whole team, etc.) were much higher in the office. After some time, I've realized I would be able to do the same work in some extreme cases in 2-3 hours while being in the environment of my choice rather than on spending 8 hours “being at work” in the office space. As a result, I've left my company back then and have not to get back to on-site work ever since (almost ten years now).
Usually, I'm not traveling while working remotely, nor I spend my life on workations (which, by the way, seems like a terrible idea to me, I like to keep those two separate as much as I can). I do enjoy the possibility to change my primary place of residence without a much hustle if I need to. That thought of being unattached from the site where the company has an office is comforting to me and makes me less anxious then thought that I have to be attached to a given city/street because of the work I do. Although I'm not like characters in Flights, I do set roots, in my case though, it is mostly a result of family-related life choices, like pleasant daily life for my kids, and things like having a lovely landscape view through my kitchen window.
Remote work does not need to mean working from home. I think the main point is working from a place where you feel comfortable and productive with no strings attached to the building where a company is. It means you can live wherever you think it is an excellent place to live for you and your family without struggling with a pointless commute to the city center. It is a kind of freedom that working remotely gives me, and I do feel privileged and grateful for being able to choose myself where I live and where I do work without dependencies on each other.