How did you initially respond to working remotely?
In September, I found out I was going to be a mum. My morning sickness had kicked in while I was in Australia, and I came back to the email that we were going remote. I was ecstatic. I hadn't had my 12-week appointment yet, so it meant that I didn't have to hide anything. Also, it meant that I could keep my job, as I had already planned to move back to Australia.
I didn't have any concerns, apart from communication. You lose having that face to face in the office to bounce ideas off someone. I had to plan more, especially being on the other side of the world. If I have any questions or discover new information throughout the day, I ensure that I communicate this to the rest of the team in the evening.
If something is essential, I discuss it one on one where possible. The fact that everyone in the group went remote at the same time means everyone understands the importance of communication.
We all make an effort to attend online meetings and have our cameras turned on. Seeing a person face to face makes conversation much more comfortable, and you don't feel as isolated.
How has working from home benefitted you?
I’ve been able to save money through not having to pay for public transport, and being able to cook lunch for myself, rather than going to the shops all the time.
In terms of health, being remote has helped immensely, especially while being pregnant. I can nap in the afternoon, as long as my hours are fulfilled. I tend to work early, starting as soon as I’m up, and have an extended lunch which may include a nap. I can go to my local doctors quickly rather than having to take the day off work.
What did you find challenging, and how did you overcome those challenges?
I do some development work, and due to the difference in time zones it can be difficult when more than one person is working on a job. I need to make sure that all my work is documented for the other person at the end of the day. In the beginning, there was a little bit of an issue with people making changes to work but not telling me, and as a result, I’d spend half my day figuring out what had been done. I raised it with the team, and since then that has improved immensely.
It’s crucial to stay in contact with everyone involved in a project. We now have stand-up meetings via Microsoft Teams three times a week, but I don't usually attend the Friday meeting because that is my Friday evening.
Due to the functionality of Teams, I can set a status, providing details of the work I have done, keeping the rest of the team updated. When important meetings take place in the office, I can participate via Teams, or the meeting can be recorded and uploaded to our intranet for me to access.
What tools do you use to aid remote working?
The SMLWRLD intranet has become a very helpful tool for aiding communication. It enables me to receive information in my time and provide any feedback, meaning I’m not excluded from important company events.
The SMLWRLD intranet contains all our relevant documentation and information, such as project plan templates, new coding and HR documentation. We use it to record any significant changes or processes, and it is available for any of us to find quickly and easily. It’s our library of information.
What advice would you give other remote workers?
If I could give any advice regarding remote working, it would be not to be afraid to speak out when you're struggling. Be upfront if you need to ask people to improve their communication. Many people don't realise that they are not communicating as effectively as they could be.
It’s important to enjoy working around a schedule that suits you, but make sure you’re vigilant. It’s very easy when working from home to carry on past regular working hours or always be available. If you do intend on working in the evening, still set your hours out and communicate that time to your colleagues.
Lastly, it’s important to separate work and home time. I was finding that in the morning, before I had even had my coffee, I would check my phone, and it was full of work notifications. I’ve now removed Teams notifications from my phone, and set it to 'do not disturb' between midnight and 9 am.