1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?
Hello! I’m Hannah, the Operations Manager at Running Remote. I’ve been working remotely for the last ten years, but this is my first role with a company that is also remote first. I live in the beautiful Peak District of the UK and love to travel. I’m also an Amazon bestselling author and am writing a new book about discovering what makes people happy after embarking on an eighteen-country overland journey between the UK and Bhutan.
I’m passionate about helping people change their lives through travel and how they work and believe we all have the skills within us to make the world a better place. My dad was born in Calcutta, India and came to the UK in the 1950s. I think discovering he was from somewhere so far away and exotic, made me fascinated with what we can learn from people with different cultures, backgrounds and experiences and how we identify ourselves.
It’s been integral in why I work in events. I love bringing people together, creating community and discovering new things.
2. What motivated you to choose remote working?
I love the independence of working remotely. It’s also allowed me to work on jobs that I am passionate about, rather than choosing a job based on where I live!
But for me there are much wider benefits of remote work. I am much more productive when I sit down to work. I can roll out of bed and get my work done first thing in the morning and then spend the rest of my day relaxing. Or I can take a few hours out in the middle of the day to run errands or meet with friends.
Because I work from home I’m saving hundreds of dollars a month on an office, train tickets and eating out in Manchester city centre. I’m also lucky enough to work with a team and a manager who trusts and values me.
My biggest motivation to work remotely is being able to work on projects I care about and the freedom to spend my time doing what I love. How we spend our time is one of the only things we can really control and having a job that not only allows me to do this, but creates the tools for others to do the same is really motivating.
3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?
Working with Running Remote has been a different experience to other kinds of remote work I have done, as I am a full time member of staff. I’ve also come on board during a global health crisis, so no day has been the same and routine has gone out the window. I’ve learned to adapt & modify and have been lucky to be able to work with a team that are empathetic to the situation.
Something I have noticed is that we video conference more in this role than email, and I check in with my boss at least twice a week this way. In ‘regular work’, I found most work was done on email with occasional calls. The connection you feel when talking to someone ‘face to face’ makes a huge difference. I already feel a lot more connected to my team than I thought I would. I was on boarded by the HR department who have also checked in with me and have been responsive to any general work issues I had.
While we have a small department, I am part of a much bigger technology company, Time Doctor. I have been invited to join company meetings and even had Liam, one of the Founders reach out to me once the UK went into lockdown to check I was ok. I feel really connected to the company and that’s been a nice feeling in such uncertain times.
4. How did you find remote working roles?
Previously all my work came from recommendations and networking. I’ve been lucky to never have to apply for a role online until a few months ago. I wanted to work in a new industry so had been looking on Upwork. But I found it hard to find suitable roles for my skill sets and it does take time to build a reputation on the platform. I did get one great client who I had been working with in the months leading up to my role with Running Remote.
I am also subscribed to a few newsletters about remote work and there is a great one in the UK called Home Working Club. Ben, the Author includes unbiased reviews of different platforms to search for roles and introduced flexjobs to me. To be honest I didn’t expect to find anything that wasn’t tech based or software development but there was such a variety of jobs I actually saw a few I was interested in. However, the Running Remote role was exactly what I wanted, so I just made sure to spend my time researching the company and writing a brand new CV & cover letter for it.
5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?
I’ll start with the worst! That has definitely been struggling to switch off when it comes to work. Especially when I have tried to travel and work, the lines definitely become blurred, which is why I actually prefer now to work from home and take time off completely when I can travel.
I love the freedom and also because technology is moving so fast, it feels like you are on the frontline learning new things and transferable skills.
The best, hands down, has got to be the flexibility. I know we all say it all the time, but it’s actually amazing!
6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?
For me it’s got to be:
- Slack and Twist for team communication and collaboration
- Zoom, Whereby, Skype, Google Hangouts for Video Conferencing
- Twitter and LinkedIn for keeping up to date with the news and industry leaders
- Todoist for task management
- TimeDoctor to track my projects and balance my work / life time
- Gsuite for sharing documents with the team
- Wetransfer for sending large files
- Bit.ly for tracking traffic
- Forest App on my phone to increase productivity and keep focused
- Headspace for daily meditation to help me ‘turn off’ at the end of a work day
7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.
Oh man, the pressure! The most fun I have had working remotely has got to be my trip in 2017 travelling overland from the UK to Bhutan. The trip was challenging of course, and not without stress. But to be able to travel and still work was incredible. People just could not believe that I was still working and earning an income when I was travelling around with everything I owned on my back!
It’s certainly something I don’t think I would have been able to do even five years ago easily. However, the amount of improvement in software, the internet and overall technology is insane. Taking skype calls on a regular basis on beaches, or answering emails travelling by train through Russia, just would not have been possible when I first started travelling. During my first trips away, we had no internet connection let alone smartphones. What’s possible now is amazing!
8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?
Make sure you create a routine that works for you. Don’t expect to know what that is straight away, but take your time working it out and communicate with your employer. For example, I share the scheduled hours I plan to work weekly onto a google calendar with my boss.
This means that even while being in different time zones we can be mindful of the planned work time. I change this weekly based on whether I will be working late / early, etc. on specific days and my social schedule.
I would also recommend learning to be solution-based. If you are struggling with a particular task or existing procedure or system within a company, provide a new solution rather than simply presenting it as a problem to your manager. It may be that there is a wider reason for things to be done differently, which just requires your understanding, or it may simply be that no alternative has been provided yet.
By the way, currently we are preparing a free online charity event Remote AID. It is designed specifically to help people and businesses making this transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, less stressful. Join us on April 20 to learn the best practices of the industry leaders.
9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?
Personally, I would love to continue to work with Running Remote to create a strong & effective conference brand that supports all businesses and employees into managing distributed teams. Also, in creating cohesive and worldwide workforces, continuing to provide opportunities where there were not previously.
I would love to be able to keep working with the team that I am currently, and to grow our events both virtually and offline in innovative ways to keep people connected. Personally, I also want to travel more and spend more time in India. Perhaps, working from there for an extended period while I research my family history!
10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?
I expect it to become normalised. I hope that wages will be reflective of current wages in office jobs, especially due to the fact that having remote workers reduces so many other costs to companies like office & meeting space.
I also want to see it really tackling occupational burnout. Companies focusing on creating better working practices, having high employee retention and sharing the profits and success with their staff as a standard, rather than as an employee perk.
In the future, I also want to see ways in which companies and governments provide better support to potential employees in actually being able to get entry-level jobs. This includes providing the equipment needed to work online (internet connection, laptop, second screen) in advance, conducting interviews through smart phone technology which can be done at libraries and government offices for those without access to that technology at home.