We asked the experts: Does it do the job?
We spoke to people from around the tech and media worlds to find out about their experience of remote working. All of our experts have significant experience of working remotely for their companies.
Beth Kanter, master trainer, author, and blogger, is a well-established international leader in nonprofits’ use of social media. Named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company and one of the BusinessWeek’s “Voices of Innovation for Social Media,” Beth is Visiting Scholar at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation 2009-2013
Grant Byington is Enterprise Services Social Media Editor for HP.
Lindsay Brand is a Customer Account Manager for Create.net, a Brighton-based company which enables businesses to build their own online shops and websites. She has been working abroad for the last year, from Indonesia, Thailand and Spain.
Marleen Devondel is ITO Product Marketing for HP Enterprise Services.
Monty Munford is the founder of the agency Mob76. He is also a freelance journalist, writing tech articles for the BBC, Telegraph, TechCrunch and Huffington Post.
How long have you been working remotely and how often do you do it?
29 years full-time
9 months full-time 12 years part-time
1 year part-time and full-time
3 years part-time
5 years full-time
Do you work more or fewer hours than when you were in an o ce environment?
“Officially I work the same hours as I would do in the office, but I probably work at least an hour extra everyday. I get carried away I think, I actually really love my job.”
“No. I keep the same hours, but I am much more productive working at home.”
“I can get a lot accomplished in less time, but since I tend to be a hard worker, I can easily work long, long hours, which isn’t always a healthy thing to do.”
Beth Kanter Beth Cantor
Top Three Devices
1 - Laptop 2 - Smartphone 3 - Tablet
“My laptop is a no brainer here. I have a Macbook Pro Retina because when your computer is your only means of working, you really don't want it to let you down.”
“Of course, my mobile phone. It is my alarm clock, calendar, and music resource too.”
“When I travel abroad I prefer a tablet, because it is lighter than my laptop.”
“I cannot live without my social media apps, as I train nonprofits on how to use social media effectively.”
“I can live without apps but I like Google Now, maps, traffic information, weather.”
1 - Collab
Top Four Apps
, Skype, e tc.)
“Mail, FaceTime and Messages - I use all three to talk, collaborate and catch up with my work colleagues daily”
2 - Socia
(Twitter, L in
3 - Mail
ac Mail, e
“In my line of work, Dropbox is necessary. I’m connected to Dropbox by anything and everything I can get.”
4 - Travel
Has remote working presented any security or privacy challenges to you, your company or your clients? How did you resolve them? “No, but the HP firewall can be pretty intense. Our blogging platform was down for a couple of hours a while ago, and that just shut my work off like a faucet. Luckily, we have a very active tech support group, but I also have a person I call in Costa Rica who gave me his direct dial phone number a while ago.”
“Well, I have become my own IT person and have to keep my computers up-to-date with virus protection and maintenance.”
“Not at all. I work using an admin system that I would be accessing if I was working in the office. I can connect to this via a secure virtual private network. This means, on paper, it's actually not any different to me being in the office.”
What are the other three main challenges you have faced while working remotely?
“Not feeling guilty: Working at home gives you amazing flexibility and productivity. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t work the traditional work day, but I realized that was not a good way to think about it. Showering: It is really easy to get into the habit of staying in your PJs until 4pm. Getting up, showered and dressed as part of your routine is important – even if you don’t leave the house. Interacting with other humans: I love the quiet of my home office, but sometimes it can be lonely. I make sure that I have regular meetings and calls with other people to prevent that empty feeling.”
“Boredom after becoming too efficient. So I found a new client. Lack of face-to-face human contact. So I take the dog out for a long walk. The mess of a family home. So I became a rabid cleaner and compartmentaliser.”
“Getting enough exercise. I have a standup desk now that easily glides up and down. Couldn’t live without it. Remembering to eat. I actually got a dog so I would take a break and go for a walk everyday. He’s my best working companion.”
What has remote working allowed you to do that you could not do before? “Working remotely has allowed me to keep the job I fell in love with and live out of the country. There was a period where I was travelling back to England for a visit, a very long way round, and ended up in Bangkok for a month. I could carry on with work no problem despite this hiccup. I have sat and done some work in an airport more than once.”
“Join later meetings with colleagues in different time zones. Manage my time better, so less stress from juggling private and professional activities. Save about two hours a day as I’m not sitting in traffic!”
“1) Concentrate. 2) Write two books. 3) Blog every day.”
How has remote working changed your work/life balance?
“I’m definitely healthier in body and brain. I’ve got more flexibility to pick up my son from school and watch him play sport, more freedom for my wife to do her thing.”
“I’m much less stressed. I’ve lost 30 pounds and I have become quite adept at dealing with tech support issues. I’m back in balance.”
“What work/life balance? One difficult thing is to put in concrete work time – because I can always pass my office and sit down at the computer and look at email. I have gotten into bad habits of working too much, but I realize it and then try to put some boundaries between personal life and work life. It doesn’t always work, but I try.”
How have you managed collaborative working with your colleagues? “HP has an extension of MS Office called LYNC that I use quite a bit. Skype. I also try to send my colleagues a photo, or attach a photo, so they have a picture of what I look like.”
“Skype: This is a great tool for remote working. You can leave your chat open and ask questions or leave comments throughout the day. Phone calls: This can be done with Skype or the regular phone, but sometimes you need to have a voice call. Shared hard drives: Using apps like Dropbox makes it super-efficient to share files.”
“I talk to the other members of the Customer Services team daily on Messages. We catch up, share tips, discuss projects and help each other out.”
What advice would you give to someone trying remote working for the rst time?
“Be slavish to the schedule you finally work out. Don’t stay in the same room all day. Go from the study to the sitting room and have at least an hour in the kitchen reading the paper or a book, or doing crosswords. Once a week go to the first showing of a movie as your treat.” “Do it! It is great! You need a separate space to work in where you can lock yourself away from family intrusion. Do not give in to the pressure of your family members: “Oh, but you work from home so you can do that.” Working from home is still working and needs full attention and dedication.”
“Create a dedicated space for your work in a room with a door, so you can close the door and leave it behind. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the flexibility benefits – don’t be afraid to take off in the middle of the day and work later in the evening. Have a regular routine.”