My Remote Worker Experience
I want to take a moment to introduce Marieke Guy, an advocate for the Remote Worker / Teleworker cause. Marieke agreed to be profiled as our first in a new series on Remote Worker Daily called “My Remote Worker Experience”. Thanks Marieke for joining us today.
I highly reccomend you check out Mariekes blog, Ramblings of a Remote Worker. And now, Marieke Guy….
Hello, I’m Marieke Guy and I work for (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/) UKOLN, a research organisation that aims to inform practice and influence policy in the areas of: digital libraries, information systems, bibliographic management, and web technologies.
I’ve been there for 12 years now and have worked on a variety of different ‘information management’ projects. There’s more on my staff page (http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/ukoln/staff/m.guy/).
Why I am a Remote Worker
UKOLN is based at the Universityof Bath(http://www.bath.ac.uk/). For those of you who haven’t heard ofBath it’s a small but very beautiful city in the south west of England and a top tourist haunt because of its Roman connections.
The most famous landmark is the Roman Baths but there is lots of other amazing architecture including theRoyal Crescent, the Circus, the Weir andPulteneyBridge. Being such a great cityBath is an expensive place to live and soon as we’d started a family it made sense to move out of the city to somewhere we could get more for our money.
After I started back to work in early 2008 following my third lot of maternity leave commuting to work no longer made sense. Getting to Bath usually involved sitting in a long traffic jam twiddling your thumbs, and doing the school run now meant that I would be permanently late.
UKOLN has a great attitude towards flexible working and was happy to let me work from home. As time moved on and I got into the swing of things (the technologies to use, keeping yourself motivated, how to work on the move, what to eat for lunch!) I was given the role of ‘Remote Worker Champion’ and became the main representative for the remote workers (there are currently 6 UKOLN remote workers).
I really wanted to take a proactive approach to remote worker support so began by writing a series of articles covering the challenges and benefits, the relevant technologies and the support framework we’ve adopted at UKOLN.
- A Desk Too Far?: The Case for Remote Working (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue56/guy/) looked at the the pros and cons of working off-site
- Staying Connected: Technologies Supporting Remote Workers (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue57/guy/) looked at technologies that can support you if you are working off-site
- A Support Framework for Remote Workers (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue59/guy/) gave an case-study of the evolving structure to provide consistent support to UKOLN colleagues who work remotely
I also started writing a blog (Ramblings of a Remote Worker (http://remoteworker.wordpress.com) to share my thoughts and have over the last 4 years given a number of presentations on working form home. All the good resources I find relating to remote working I put on delicious http://www.delicious.com/mariekeguy/remoteworking
For me the benefits of home/remote working are crystal clear. Remote workers are often more productive, more loyal, absent from work less and given the rise in office space have lower overheads to account for.
There are also environmental benefits to add to the mix. Flexible working is lowly becoming the norm and I’m pleased to have been able to offer a little support for others making the choice. In September 2009 I was lucky enough to be to win the accolade of Remote Worker of the year (http://remoteworker.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/will-the-remote-worker-winner-please-stand-up/) for my services to the remote worker community.
In the Summer last year we moved to Cirencester to be nearer to my husband’s work. We are now almost 1 ½ hours away from the University so my trips over are less frequent. My home office is now set up in our ‘technology’ room and I’m lucky enough to have a great view of our garden.
The Remote Worker Skill Set
Remote workers need to be self-motivated, disciplined and have excellent time management skills. There are also a number of key areas that I have found it helps to know a little about: virtual team working, participating in online events and initiating online training.
Virtual Team Working
Last summer I began working as an institutional support officer for the Digital Duration Centre, a centre of expertise in curating digital research data. Although I’m employed by UKOLN I spend most of my time working with partners from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Many people work on-the-road or from home occasionally, but even more work in virtual teams so experience in this area is beneficial to most. Skills in collaborative tools (such as Sharepoint, Google docs, shared calendars, online meeting organisers, wikis etc.) and communication tools (such as Twitter, Skype etc.) are a huge help.
Amplifying and attending online events is another area in which it’s useful to have some skills. There are now some great free tools out there for people to use. For example to stream somebody talking at an event you could use: Live stream, Bambuser, Qik, justin.tv, Ustream, IPadio or Livestream for Facebook – to name but a few. An article I wrote on 10 Cheap and Easy Waysto Amplify Your Event (http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue66/guy/) gives some good pointers.
Professional development is important to all of us but can get left to one side when you work from home. I try to take a pro-active approach to training and have recently started some online studying (a course Introduction to Openness in Education http://remoteworker.wordpress.com/category/ioe12/) in the form of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). My approach is encouraging me to take a reflective look at online learning in general.
I realise this post has been very much about me and my remote worker journey, I apologies for that, but I do think that making the most out of working from home is up to you. It can be difficult and lonely, you can lack motivation or get totally absorbed into work…but the alternative is to make connections, communicate and be pro-active. You may find that becoming a remote worker is the best thing you do!
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