Staying Connected in a Big Remote Worker World

As remote working becomes more usual I’ve started to notice a few more people like me: people who work from home or outside the office and who blog about their experiences. One such person is Doug Campbell who shares his thoughts on the Remote Worker Daily blog. You can follow Doug on Twitter at @dailyremotework or email him at remoteworkerdaily@gmail.com.

Doug has written a guest blog post on Staying Connected in a Big Remote Worker World – Family and Friends versus Work and Business – My Approach.

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My name is Doug Campbell. In addition to writing for my blog, Remote Worker Daily, which I write remotely and to which I have posted to from around the world, I work a full time job as a technology consultant in the metro Washington, DC area where I work remotely part of the week.

My current client is fully remote, located in three separate cities across the United States. In my spare time, I am a part-time freelance consultant in the Enterprise Document Management space, which is also fully remote. My current freelance client is located in the UK.

In past jobs, I have worked with remote teams in India, Europe, and Canada on software development projects. I have also worked longer term fully remote while on vacation in Canada and South America.
I have been involved in some level or degree of remote work for almost 14 years.

The first challenge is staying connected.

As you can imagine, staying connected with all of these different teams in different countries, cultures, and time zones has provided an interesting challenge, and I haven’t even mentioned my family, located a thousand miles away.
So how do I stay connected in this big remote worker world? I have one approach for work and business, and a different approach for family and friends.

The second challenge is effectively drawing the line to keep family and friends separate from work and business.

Let’s start the discussion of what I call the “firewall to my personal life”. I have separate approaches to work and business connectedness than I do to family and friends for several reasons;

  1. Privacy – I don’t necessarily share my weekend photos from the pub with my clients.
  2. Safety – As Remote Worker Daily grows, so does the possibility of running into the occasional weirdo, stalker, angry reader, or identity thief.
  3. Peace of mind – I also like to keep work and business separate from friends and family.

I find this works well for me, but some people effectively mix work and pleasure.

How I stay connected with work and business

  1. Dell laptop – for all writing and work related software.
  2. Apple iPhone 4S – I use this phone for everything from internet browsing to video-conference to email to phone calls.
  3. LinkedIn – keep an extensive professional network.
  4. Facebook – a separate account for Remote Worker Daily.
  5. Email – a separate account for Remote Worker Daily, remoteworkerdaily@gmail.com
  6. Twitter – used for Remoter Worker Daily @dailyremotework
  7. GoToMeeting – affordable and reliable video conferencing.

Quick Tips:

  1. Set expectations with employers, colleagues and clients on agreed upon work days and times, preferred communication channels, and frequency of communication.
  2. Cheap isn’t always better, make sure you have a good quality, reliable connection.
  3. Keep it professional. It’s easy to accidentally let your guard down when working at home in your pajamas.

How I stay connected with family and friends

I have been fully utilizing technology to cost-effectively keep in touch with friends and family (who are currently spread out in Canada and South America) whether I am home in the United States, travelling for fun, or vacationing. I have always been able to find free or affordable internet access wherever I travel.

The list of technology and tools that works well for me:

  1. Dell laptop – for all writing and work related software.
  2. Apple iPhone 4S – I use this phone for everything from internet browsing to video-conference to email to phone calls.
  3. Skype – I regularly video-conference with family and friends.
  4. Vonage – for home telephone and long distance. They have a very affordable world plan. I also use their iPhone application.
  5. Facebook – my personal account, I regularly update throughout the day.
  6. Twitter – My personal account.
  7. Email – Personal email account.

Quick Tips:

  1. Be sensitive to time zones. I learned this the hard way when I accidentally called my brother at 3 AM in his local time from China, which was an 11 hour time difference.
  2. Be sensitive to technology preferences. Skype video-conferencing works great with my brother, but it has to be a telephone call with my parents.
  3. If you wouldn’t want your boss, mother, and priest to see it, don’t send it via Twitter or post it publically on Facebook. And yes, many employers and recruiters do research employees or future employee’s public social media profiles.

Conclusion

Keeping connected with work and business, and family and friends should be guided first and foremost by common sense, and secondly by putting yourself in their shoes before acting.

One thought on “Staying Connected in a Big Remote Worker World

  1. The worst part about working remotely for me was when things went wrong with the systems that I worked on. There is nothing worse than being stressed in the comfort of your own home, while your immediate family have no understanding of what is going on….

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