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By Susanna Maize
Max Makeev, 40, worked remotely before many of us had the option. In 2014, he co-founded Owl Labs out of the belief that the right technology could enable remote employees to seamlessly connect to the office, subsequently allowing them to work wherever they want. Now, with over 150 employees of his own and well over 100,000 customers worldwide, Makeev has been able to apply his company’s ethos into his own personal life — choosing to split his time between Boston and New Hampshire.
Makeev and his wife invested in a lake house in central New Hampshire in 2017. “At the time, it was a place to get away on weekends,” he says. “And it was great because New Hampshire’s just beautiful — there’s so much fresh air you can’t help but be outside.”
Centered around New Hampshire’s largest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, the Lakes Region is one of the overlooked gems of the state. Just two hours drive north of Boston, the region offers boating in the summer, skiing in the winter, and scenic drives all year.
City shutdown to outdoor adventure
When the pandemic hit, Makeev was living in Boston and knew it was time for a change. “The cities became post-apocalyptic, so we thought let’s just go up to New Hampshire, and we’ll figure out how to work and live from there.” What was their weekend getaway became a way of life. Makeev and his wife were spending more and more time at their cabin, outfitting the house with a grill, buying new hiking equipment, and leaning into the plethora of space – and activities – to beat the pandemic blues.
As everyone hunkered inside, Makeev was able to spend his time out in nature, breathing a sigh of relief. A big fan of hiking, Makeev loves the sprawling trail network that crisscrosses central New Hampshire, offering stunning views of the lakes. In the winter, he’ll even take his dogs out for a walk on the ice, helped by his new crampons.
Productivity, clarity, and communal barbeques
This time spent in New Hampshire has not only been a relaxing getaway when he’s not working, but actually helped him be as productive as ever. “I had this weight that I was just carrying the whole time and I shed it,” says Makeev. “I found myself being as productive as I ever was.” He even turned his spare room into a conference room to test out Owl Labs prototypes, as well as use his own products to connect to his co-workers.
The mental clarity that came with the travel helped return to work-life balance. “Waking up in the morning and being able to take a the dogs out for a few mile walk off leash, just feels so much more pleasing than being in the city,” says Makeev. “I just felt like I was cutting corners, having to compromise on things that I would like to do. In New Hampshire, I don’t have to lose out on anything.”
Makeev also credits his boost in happiness to the community he has been able to build. From inviting his neighbors to try out his new grill to watching Fourth of July fireworks with his friends, the people of New Hampshire stand out to him. “You can form relationships with people in a way that I just couldn’t in the city,” he says.
Still, Makeev acknowledges that a return to more in-person work is inevitable, but is optimistic about the future of more flexible work. Right now, he is planning to split his time 50/50 between Boston and New Hampshire, finding opportunities to connect with coworkers without sacrificing his personal comforts. “It’s a very human thing to want to connect with people in person,” he says. “But I believe that technology has enabled people to work remotely, be productive, and have a better work life balance.”
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