Out of the Office: A Remote Team with Amy Dunham

Remote employees come in all shapes and sizes. Some are pure entrepreneurs who have big dreams. Others are adventurers and creatives who don’t like to be tied to a desk.  While some others are, like our next interviewee, parents looking for ways to be with their kids and pay the bills. This week we get to talk to Amy, mom of two toddlers with another on the way. We will learn how she juggles mommin’ and workin’.

Question: What do you contribute to team CMVA?

Amy: I am the writer who works with Charissa each week to create the blog content.

Question: How did you get started with a remote team?

Amy: I dipped my toes in the “remote team” water when I transitioned to part-time, from-home work with my employer after my first child was born. I had been a typical full-time employee, but wanted more time with my daughter when she came along. So, while I was still in the office occasionally, I first got a taste of remote work then. Eventually, I left that job for full-time mom life and signed up with the freelance website Upwork for a little side income. My first remote freelance job was writing descriptions for a travel website.

Question: Did you have any concerns at first?

Amy: My concerns were simply being able to get the work done with my kid(s) hanging around and needing my attention. I was worried that I would overcommit and not be able to meet the requirements of my clients in a timely manner.

Question: How did you address those concerns?

Amy: When the girls were babies it was easier because they napped; naptime became my work time. As they’ve grown (and both outgrew all naps by the time they turned two) I’ve had to come up with creative ways to work while they are awake. I still have dedicated work time as much as possible and have encouraged the kids to have “quiet time” and play by themselves while “mommy is working.” It’s good for them to learn to play independently and I get to adult and make a little money. Win-win!

Also, I only add clients once I have worked out any kinks with current clients. I started small and I added work in manageable increments while being open and honest with my current clients when deadlines may be harder to reach. I have found that open communication and honest assessment of what you can actually accomplish goes a long way. And clients tend to really appreciate the honesty too. And my policy is that longer-standing clients take precedence over any new ones.

Question: What are the advantages to working on a remote team?

Amy: I love setting my own schedule and being able to work anywhere. I love moving my office around. I am a writer first and foremost so changing up my work location to different rooms of the house or to different locations entirely helps keep me fresh. You can’t do that in a corporate cubicle environment!

Question: What are the challenges?

Amy: The challenges, for me, are simply that I love people and I love seeing their faces and hearing their voice. The collaboration and the connection when working face-to-face can still be accomplished on a remote team but it takes more effort. I have found that my most successful remote work experiences have been the ones who have open lines of communication that don’t just include emails. However, I also have introverted tendencies, particularly when it’s time to write, so this challenge can be a good thing some of the time.

Question: What tips do you have for someone just getting started on a remote team or considering one?

Amy: My advice is to simply take one step at a time and learn along the way. Don’t expect everything to work perfectly right away. If you aren’t used to this kind of work, you may have some hiccups and that’s okay! My first freelance job wasn’t great for me; I signed up for something that took a lot longer than I expected and ended up barely paying anything at all. I learned, from that, how to better plan out work and that I deserved to hold out for jobs that paid me what I was worth. Start with one job. Grab it by the horns. Give it all you’ve got. Assess its success or failure. And then keep going.

Remote teams work when we know our strengths, our weaknesses, and our worth. Perfection is not a requirement, but hard work, honesty, and communication are.

Next week we get to introduce you to the newest member here at Team CMVA. She may be new to us, but she comes with massive amounts of wisdom and insight. I bet you can’t wait to meet her!