The number of people working remotely increases every year. And for solopreneurs looking to expand their business or busting at the seams with new clients and customers, hiring a remote employee may be the ideal situation. However, the idea of hiring someone you’ve not “met” and can’t keep an eye on, not to mention may not even be in the same time zone, can be downright scary. We get it, but guess what? That’s how we do it!
Our Team CMVA is made up of people from four states and three different time zones. We haven’t met in person, we’ve never shaken hands, or shared a drink. But it works, and it works well. This month we are introducing you to each of our team members one at a time. And we will each get the chance to tell you the highs and lows, the good and bad of working with a remote team.
This week it is our pleasure to introduce you to the very first Team CMVA remote member, Shaina Longstreet.
Question: What do you contribute to team CMVA?
Shaina: I am the graphic designer and visual stylist for team CMVA, focusing mainly on social media content visuals that are on the blog and the Charissa Moore Instagram account.
Question: How did you get started with a remote team (not necessarily with team CMVA)?
Shaina: I have a graphic design business that I’ve been running for a couple of years now. My first long-term, remote client started with a discovery call and ended with me agreeing to design her blog graphics. We’d been working together for a couple of months when I spoke with Charissa about interviewing me for her Virtual Assistant podcasts. Soon after, I began taking on some design tasks for her own business. I was really green to doing this kind of remote work, but I have really enjoyed the work. So much that I have since added VA services to what I offer clients on my own website.
Question: Did you have any concerns at first?
Shaina: It really was just completely new to me. I was eager to learn, eager to please my clients, and this whole world of VA work opened up to me. I believe that having a specialized skill has been a real asset for me. Working remotely wasn’t a worry because of my experience – most of my website design clients have been remote.
Question: How did you address those concerns?
Shaina: I found that the best way for me to learn was through watching videos of my clients doing the task or explaining the task and doing it for myself. This saved a lot of time, possible misunderstandings, and I always have those videos to refer back to if I have a question. Communication is a big part of working as a member of a remote team. Knowing your own preferred communication style and keeping an open mind are two of my biggest suggestions for others looking to try being a part of or building a remote team.
Question: What are the advantages to working on a remote team?
Shaina: The biggest advantage is probably the most obvious one: you set your own hours. As long as your tasks get completed on time, to your client’s satisfaction, then you have control over when you work – even if it’s in the middle of the night. The community that forms when you’re part of a remote team is another huge advantage to me. Many of us left corporate “day jobs” to have and enjoy this freedom, but it can get lonely working at home. So, for me, having people you can check in with on a weekly or daily basis is a big benefit to being part of a remote team.
Question: What are the challenges?
Shaina: The biggest one is finding a time that works for everyone to get together and have our staff meetings! We all lead such busy lives and work different hours and schedules so it can be difficult to nail everyone down at the same time. But it’s always good when we make it happen. It keeps us all on the same page with big picture goals and the assignments or tasks we’ll be working on day to day.
Question: What tips do you have for someone just getting started on a remote team or considering one?
Shaina: My tip is to get really curious. Pay attention to the things that you like to do, the things you’re good at doing, and think of how those can translate into helping others. Most people think of VA’s as doing lots of admin work and data entry, and there is a place for that, and maybe that’s totally your thing! But I get to spend my time doing work I love (graphic design) as part of the bigger picture of our team here at CMVA. So think beyond your first impressions for ways that you can help and then make yourself available.
Get curious, make yourself available, and enjoy the ride. Thanks, Shaina! We definitely enjoy working with you!