Out of the Office: A Remote Team with Vanessa Cortes

It can take a bit of bravery, faith, or a healthy dose of crazy to work on or create a remote team. But the growing reality is that for many of us it makes the most sense and is a natural outcome of the working world we live in.

And it comes with tons of benefits! As we learned last week with Shaina, one of the best benefits for her is creating her own schedule. But it also comes with some unique challenges, such as needing a deep well of self-motivation (along with the dose of crazy).

This week we get to meet another team CMVA member, Vanessa, and learn what she has to say about being a part of a remote team.

Question: What do you contribute to team CMVA?

Vanessa: My daily tasks include web research, data entry, calendar, social media blog post scheduling, and other random tasks assigned. Whatever Charissa needs.

Question: How did you get started with a remote team (not necessarily with team CMVA)? 

Vanessa: It was in 2009 when I got hired for a project with oDesk which is now Upwork. It was a simple task and flexible that I could work on it anytime of the day or while the kids were sleeping. Aside from that I also signed up with survey companies who pay for sharing your opinions on existing market products or to try new products that aren't available in the market yet. That's when I realized I am a better worker when alone; I accomplished more at home than from a cubicle.  

Question: Did you have any concerns at first?

Vanessa: Yes, as a stay at home Mom my family will always comes first. Not being able to meet my clients' requirements or not being able to deliver it on time was definitely a concern of mine.

Question: How did you address those concerns?

Vanessa: Time Management. I am not the kind of person who creates a to-do list until I started to accept freelancing projects. I learned to appreciate my phone calendar and reminder apps. These tools keep me on top of everything, from doing household chores, kids' school activities, and meeting project deadlines. And when it gets crazy sometimes, which it will at some point, I remind myself that everything is passing and gets better one day at a time. 

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

Vanessa: I work at my own time, when I want to, even with my pjs on…because who cares! There are no office politics to deal with or traffic jams which – being in Southern California – is heaven. still, there are days that I dress up, have to get strict with my working time, and let family and friends know they can’t just drop by unless it's urgent. That flexibility is part of why this kind of work is so great. Overall I am in control; the ball will always be in my court. 

Question: What are the challenges?

Vanessa: Communication, wherever you go, you come across unresponsive people. It can be tough when you have a deadline but something doesn't make sense and no one's there for you. In addition, working across different time zones can create a unique challenge. I find that it's important for both parties to meet halfway to make it work. 

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

Vanessa: Communication - make it open all the time. For freelancers and for those who are still planning to be one, don't be scared to ask questions even if you think they’re stupid questions. What matters is that you are learning. Virtual friendships and relationships matter and have to be nurtured as much as the ones you make in the real world. We are human, we need to interact either working from home or inside a company cubicle. Lastly, make it your daily working goal to ‘Make your clients happy.’

It’s okay to be a little crazy on this adventure and take on a remote team environment. And take it from Vanessa: remember that we are still human, structure and schedules still matter, and flexibility is still the mark of a team player.