Welcome to the tenth of the weekly interview series where I will speak a wide range of people who have embraced the working remotely opportunity. We will speak to entrepreneurs, business owners, large organisation workers and freelancers about their trials and tribulations when delving into remote working.
This week I had the delight of interviewing SEO Gemini Charlotte Waller. Charlotte successfully runs her own SEO agency delighting clients across the globe and does this successfully from her own home. As an avid reader of her blog I categorically say that Charlotte knows her stuff.
After following her blog for some time I was delighted to welcome Charlotte along for an interview about her working values, how her business works and if remote working is one of her beliefs.
Q: Hi Charlotte, tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, where do you live now?
I’m from Berkshire and I live in Ascot. I love running (something I tend to broadcast from time to time on Twitter…ahem! (Twitter is @SEOGemini) and have completed 7 marathons all over the world – why I keep going back I have no idea, the potential reasons I’ve come up with so far are madness, egotism or that I’m simply a sucker for punishment, take your pick! Aside from that I’m a complete computer geek excluding the odd party here and there and I actually look forward to Monday mornings. I have a degree in Nutrition, a massage diploma and have worked for the national health service; nothing whatsoever to do with computers and I had no idea nor inclination that I would end up in SEO – a happy and random set of circumstances got me to where I am today J
Q: What company do you work for and what is your role within the organisation?
I work for SEO Gemini, it’s a massive company with a colossal workforce of…1…and that would be me. I’m starting to grow the business now and get more people involved but presently I’m self employed. As a consequence my role involves doing everything! Research, blogging, social media, set up, techy stuff, SEO, link building, client meetings, reporting, analytics and accounts…things like that. I haven’t organized the Christmas yet though…party hats and Secret Santa for one might be a bit on the lonely side!
Q: How do you deal with stereotypes from friends in regards to productivity when working from home? i.e.: Sleep until midday, 2 hour lunch breaks etc.
I’m very fortunate that a lot of my friends are self employed so are in the same situation. When I say I work from home the initial reaction is usually one of envy. Then I get asked about distractions and working hours to which I respond that I work when I am most productive which admittedly does equate to some rather odd hours. The issue rather ironically is not one of not working enough, its one of working too much. If I become engrossed in a task I’ll be up until 1am working, my problem tends to be in switching off because I can’t leave an office and drive home – my work is always there waiting for me in the next room.
Q: What is the most challenging part about working remotely and how do you overcome this?
The most challenging part is being so isolated. I tend to get cabin fever from being at home so much and not interacting with others in a more social and formal environment. To tackle this I’ve adopted the local Starbucks, a friend’s house, an office desk and my gym as additional locations in which to work. I’ll work from home a couple of days then if I start to notice I’m talking to the cat just a little bit too much I’ll go elsewhere.
Q: What are the main positives around working from home?
The recent Olympics!! My trusty laptop and about 8 hours of background viewing every day. I got to watch so many wonderful medal moments in real time as they happened. Other positives are being able to work around my own body clock (I work a lot of evenings as I find I work more effectively at this time) and being able to make things like dentists appointments which only ever seem to be in the working day when I always used to be…well at work.
Q: Do you have a dedicated office space and what is the importance of having this?
I do yes. This is great in that I can isolate completely and separate work from home however I’ll happily work all over the house; in the garden, living room or bedroom in addition to the study – I do work more slowly in other locations though, I believe my best work is often completed in the slightly more formal setting.
Q: Any pictures of your office space?
I had a work session with my friend (computer overload) and there’s my “office” in the garden too.
Q: Do you have any productivity tools you use to keep yourself efficient which may help our readers?
Yes – an afternoon nap if I can! I don’t drink coffee so if it’s a break it’s a diet coke break which wakes me up a bit, otherwise I’ll start on another task for a while or take a five minute break or a quick walk which usually helps me to come back refreshed. Water too really helps to keep me alert.
Q: If you could give any advice to our readers before deciding whether remote working is for them then what would it be?
Ensure you have a good social circle. It can be extremely lonely, especially in the beginning and it’s a big adjustment. Try to manage yourself so you’re not alone for the entire week working. Experiment with your productivity too – its all well and good saying you’ll work 9-5 but if your best work is done from 4-10pm for example, don’t be afraid to go with it.
Q: Do you believe more organisations should allow those with web based roles to work remotely? If so..how come?
Absolutely. It baffles me that an organization can say you need to be in an office from 9-5, I believe companies should work with human physiology and psychology more to help workers work effectively, not just for a set time period. It’s all well and good being stuck in an office for 8 hours a day but what if you’re only effective for 5 of those hours? It’s in companies and peoples personal interests to optimize their working patterns. I think more project based work could help create effective working, acting as an incentive and encouraging both teamwork and intrinsic motivation i.e. when the project is completed to the highest standard you can leave or have time off or work at home. I believe too that allowing remote working, changing a workers environment and giving them more responsibility are all steps that could really help companies to achieve their potential.