How crypto and remote work changed my life

The beauty of rejecting the status quo

Utrust has entered the market to promote radical change. The idea was never incremental improvement over the financial system we have, but the creation of a high-tech alternative that would effectively improve people’s lives.

The first lives that the company wanted to impact from the get-go were the lives of the people who worked here.

The same mindset that Utrust applied to its product, it applied to work as well.

This blogpost was written by one of our teammates, and it’s about how both Utrust and crypto had a big impact on his life.

Next month, it will be three years since I quit my last in-person job. Utrust was the first company that published my writing online and have since become my full-time employers.

I had never worked remotely before.

I had never used crypto before.

Let me paint you a picture:

I had a normal life

In 2018, I was working in Lisbon, a place I never really wanted to move to. I come from a small town in the North, which I quite enjoyed. I dreamed of working in publishing, though, and in Portugal that means moving to the capital. I managed to find a decent job, with above average salary for the industry, and I assumed happy days lay ahead.

I managed to find an apartment in Lisbon which cost me 45% of my salary. “Lucky you”, people told me, “that’s quite cheap for Lisbon”.

Happy days, indeed.

I settled in, I met the girl that would become my wife, and I adopted a puppy. “Lucky you”, people told me, “that sounds amazing”.

And it sucked

Every day I woke up at 6:30 AM to walk my dog. I had to be in the shower by 7, so I could be out of the house by 7:30, so I could walk to where I parked. It was usually far, since a lack of reliable public transportation means most Lisboners drive everywhere and parking spaces are hard to come by. If I didn’t have a car, I would have to take the metro, switch to a train, and then a bus to get to work.

Commuting by car wasn’t much better. I had to cross the Segunda Circular, Lisbon’s largest and most congested commuting artery. On a good day, it could take as little as 45 minutes. On a bad day, however, I could easily be sitting in my car for over an hour.

At work, I was stuck at my desk. We only had an hour for lunch, so the only real options to eat in the industrial area where the office was located were a small windowless room with four microwave ovens and the tiny food court of the supermarket across a large freeway.

This was life until 6PM. Leaving early was frowned upon, regardless of what tasks there were to complete. Working from home was (and still is) impossible.

And when the time came to actually leave… the Segunda Circular was plump full of cars and waiting for another hour-long commute.

When I got home, I had to walk the dog again, of course. When I sat down at home, most days, the clock read 7:30 PM.

All in all, I slept eight hours, I was at work or in transit to work for 12 hours, and everything else had to be squeezed into the remaining four. Cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, running errands, laundry, and all the other small and large things that make up a modern life.

And that’s when I didn’t have to do overtime, which was often.

I stopped reading, the passion that had led me to publishing in the first place. I stopped seeing friends unless they insisted. I stopped playing music entirely. I stopped writing. My relationship, that was built on a lot of sleepless nights (we had to find the time somewhere), started suffering.

By 2019, I cracked.

This is how they’ve always done it

Fast-forward a couple of years.

Here’s what my day looks like:

My dog wakes me up. I don’t have an alarm clock anymore. I still walk her, but now I own my own apartment, in my hometown, that I never wanted to leave in the first place. My mortgage payments are less than half of the rent I paid in Lisbon.

I’m married now. I got hitched at the beach, and it was beautiful.

My wife followed me out of Lisbon with no idea what she was getting into. All she knew was that I couldn’t take the drudgery any more and my mental health was collapsing. She didn’t know what to expect when I landed an interview with Utrust’s then Head of Growth. Would I just be going right back into an office job, just in a different city? Would the cheaper cost of living and almost zero traffic help?

“So what about office hours?” I asked.

“You’re free to use Utrust’s office whenever you want, but we’re fully remote, you can work from home if you like.”

That sounded too good to be true. This was before the pandemic, mind you, and remote work was nowhere near as common at that point. But my new boss was adamant: he didn’t care where I worked, or how many hours I worked, as long as I delivered.

What I learned in the following years, while I got my life back and I watched in amazement as my former company lost some of the most brilliant young minds in publishing by refusing to let them keep working remotely after lockdowns were lifted was that… this is a fool’s game.

Most companies are fighting remote work out of habit and little more.

This is how they’ve always done it.

This is how they’re comfortable doing it.

Change is scary.

Feeling like you aren’t in control is scary.

Does this remind you of anything?

This is when I first learned about crypto

Is it really surprising that the very same people who weren’t scared about embracing an entirely different paradigm for work were driving the revolution for an entirely new form of paying?

An entirely new form of money?

As I settled into my brand new home office, and I started working on these pieces, I was learning at an avid pace. I was doing recaps for WebSummit, I was transcribing the words of Nuno Correia, then the CEO, and Sanja Kon, then Vice President. It was all new to me, but I was shocked as to why it was new.

“Why do we insist on being stuck in the past?” I thought to myself many times, as I walked in a green empty park, in the middle of the afternoon.

In case you were wondering: yes, I’m reading again. And writing (case in point). And making music as well. I now take long walks with my dog at 6PM, instead of being stuck in a car. My work is appreciated like never before, and without any need for anyone to scrutinize my schedule.

I get it that some people will still find offices appealing.

What I don’t get, and probably never will, as I type this at 3AM (yes, I’m a bit of a night owl, and I like the freedom to write at odd hours!) is why you wouldn’t want the freedom to choose.

As I learned more about remote work and crypto, I started seeing the parallels.

The advantages are obvious, and it’s impossible not to feel them almost instinctively as you familiarize yourself with the concepts.

Yes, you can make payments over the Internet without risking your personal information.

Yes, they are almost instantaneous.

Yes, you can do it without having a bank account or letting anyone else touch your money.

Much in the same way as the advantages of remote work, these are obvious, clear-cut, simple advantages. There is no way to rationalize them into something dubious. They’re staring you in the face.

Much in the same way the two hours I have gained every single day, every single week, every single month, are a massive gain for my personal and professional life.

It’s not surprising that some sectors are viciously resisting these changes. Some businesses and people have their whole lives invested in keeping us trapped in traffic, and some depend on having us stuck to our bank accounts.

We can’t let them win.

No one has the right to force us to live in the past when we are building a better future.

I feel privileged that I get to help build it.

Bonus picture of the star of this blogpost, on a walk that happened during business hours: