LAURA ROOKE is a freelance customer support specialist in California, USA. After many years as a computer programmer, she quit her job to raise her children. When her kids got older, she wanted to start working again – but this time from home. She started by getting involved on the Hewlett Packard online forums for people using iPaqs, a tool she loved using herself. She now does online technical support for a few different companies. She finds that she gets enough social interaction just from talking with her customers and from regular meetings with her teams.



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Her tips for remote working:

  • Establish common etiquette for how you use your communication tools.
  • If you’re working from home, make sure to get out of the house and exercise.
  • Have regular meetings with your team.
  • Get together in person periodically and have virtual lunches in between.

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Graphic design by Alfred Boland


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How the remote technical support journey began

I started many years ago as a computer programmer in England. And from there, I moved on to being a systems analyst. From there, I went on to education where I taught system and program design.

When I had my kids, I gave up work to stay home and be with my kids. Years later, I was doing a lot of volunteer work for schools and I thought “I really need my calendar at home to sync up with the calendar that I have on me”, and I went out and bought an iPaq (a pocket PC device long before the iPhone existed). It was then that I realized how much I enjoyed technology!

When my kids got older, I was getting bored with being a stay-at-home mom. I found the HP forums for people using iPaqs and I just started answering questions. I got points for all the questions I answered. And I unintentionally worked my way to the top of these forums.

Eventually, I was nominated and awarded a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award five years in a row (until Microsoft discontinued the award). And when I went out to look for a job, the MVP Award gave me credentials to get a job, even after not having worked for 20 years.

So even though I was doing it because I liked it, a lesson here is that if you really want a job in a particular place, then you need to put yourself in that place. Even if you’re just volunteering. Get yourself known and learn the territory.

I believe that if you work hard and you love what you’re doing, things just work out.

Benefits of remote working

Because of my enthusiasm in the iPaq forums, I ended up working from home, earning good money, with good hours, doing something I actually loved. And suddenly, I had so much work that I was working 12 hours a day. I don’t think I could have worked 12 hours a day in an office, but somehow, working 12 hours a day at home was fine. And also, I love the work that I do, so it was never difficult to work those 12 hours.

I wanted to be available for my son. I didn’t want to be stuck in an office where I felt guilty if my son needed me. For me, the main benefit of remote working is so that I can be there for my family. I like the flexibility remote working offers.

There’s a lot of time wasted commuting into an office. Even if the office is 10 minutes away, that adds up!

So even though it’s a lot of work, you haven’t got the commute and you can do things intermittently in breaks during the day. When I worked in an office, I’d come home exhausted not wanting to do anything except just collapse.

For the company that doesn’t need a full time person, employing remote staff on an as needed basis is incredibly useful. They don’t want to have to pay someone for 8 hours a day if there’s not enough work. And the company doesn’t have to pay for office space. The company just paid me for the work I did. And because I had enough work from a variety of sources, I could balance the work myself.

Challenges of remote working

You have to be disciplined with your communication tools. You have to communicate via instant message the same as you would as if you were having a conversation in the office. You can’t just leave people hanging. And because people can’t see what you’re doing, you have to make sure that you’re communicating with extra awareness.

What you miss out on when working remotely is what you would overhear if you were in an office. Sometimes the conversations you overhear are just as valuable as the conversations you have with somebody.

When working remotely, it’s especially important to be on time to meetings. Regular weekly meetings are important to just talk to each other. It helps build community. You do have to bond, and periodically, as a team, get together. Being in different time zones can also be a challenge.

Remote collaboration tools

I use GoToMeeting a lot for companies I work with. Personally, I use Join.me, Skype, and iMessage.


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Original transcript

Lisette: Welcome to this Hangout On Air. My name is Lisette Sutherland and I’m researching people and businesses who collaborate remotely.  Today, I’m interviewing Laura Rooke, the fastest technical support specialist you will ever hire.  I worked with Laura for three years and what was for me and for the company an extremely successful remote working experience so I’m really excited to be interviewing her about this.  And if you have questions during this hangout, then you can go to #remoteinterview or just ask your question at #remoteinterview and we’ll answer it.  So welcome, Laura!

Laura: Yeah, thank you.  And it was a very successful time when we worked together.  It was so much fun.  It really was.  And we achieved so much.  Yeah, we did.

Lisette: Yeah, and the clients we worked with I think didn’t know that I was in Europe and you were in California.  I think for the most part, people didn’t know until you started talking about the weather and where you were and then they knew.

Laura: That’s right.

Lisette: So how about let’s start with a little bit of background about yourself and the kind of projects that you’ve done.

Laura: Well shall I start with background first?

Lisette: Yeah, let’s do background first.

Laura: I started many years ago as a programmer, just as a computer programmer back in England.  And from there, I moved on to a systems analyst and in those days, that was literally going out to departments seeing how they did the job manually and working out how to do it on a computer and then getting the programmers to actually write the programs to do it.  And then from there, I went on to education and I worked for [inaudible 1:40] computers and I taught systems program design and all the general courses they gave so I was very much into education.  And then when I had my kids, I gave up work and stayed home to be with my kids.  And it wasn’t ‘til years later and I was doing a lot of volunteers work for the schools and I thought I really need my calendar at home to sync out with the calendar that I have on me.  And I went out and I bought an ipack which was a pocket PC device long before the iPhone.  And I suddenly realized how much I enjoyed technology.

Lisette: Yes, and I actually do remember when we worked together that there’s always a ding or a whistle or some sort of techno.

Laura: I have like a Blackberry Windows phone, iPhone, Android phone, yeah.  So I just love technology and I don’t know why just to me it makes my life easier.  It makes me more organized and when I’m organized, I’m calm.

Lisette: And also sometimes, you don’t need to have an excuse for liking something.  You can just like it.

Laura: Yeah, that’s right.

Lisette: Okay, and so what are the kind of projects that you’ve worked on?  You said you did education and technology.  And then how did you get to—I know that you’ve done some and you’re probably still doing—work in forms with people asking technical questions and how did that come to be?

Laura: Yeah, so when my kids got older and I was still a stay-at-home mom, I was living in the US without a work permit.  I started getting kind of bored and I thought I got my ipack and I discovered the HP forums for people using ipacks and I started contributing there.  And I realized I could help people a lot.  It’s like “Oh, I know all these answers” so I started answering all these questions and you get points for all the questions you answer.  And I started working my way up to the top of these forums.  I mean I didn’t intend to because it was fun.  And then I helped out in another handheld forum and then somebody nominated me for Microsoft MVP award which is Most Valuable Person.  I got nominated as a Microsoft MVP and I got given the award by Microsoft when they checked out my credentials.

Lisette: Wow!

Laura: Yeah.  That was kind of cool.  I got that for 5 years in a row until Microsoft discontinued the award for the devices.  And that’s how I actually got into my first job back after not working for 20 years.  I went for a job in IT support just a part-time job and they said, “Well, if you haven’t worked for 20 years…”  They looked at my résumé and they said, “Oh, you’re Microsoft MVP, oh, okay.”  And they gave me the job.

Lisette: Wow!

Laura: That was kind of cool.  And that was a part-time job.  And in the meantime, on Craigslist, I saw this job advertised just one hour a day from SplashData who make software apps for like the palm device and the Windows mobile device.  This is again before iPhone days.  So I had this part-time job in the morning just 4 hours a day and then I got this job just doing one hour a day for SplashData.  So that was kind of fun.  And in the meantime, Microsoft gave me a call and they said, “Would you like to work for us?  We’re starting a new forum ourselves.  And we’re wondering if you would do 20 hours a week just from your own home.”  And that’s what got me going.  It was actually Microsoft who got me thinking, “Oh my goodness!  I could actually work from home and earn good money and with good hours.

Lisette: And doing something that you actually really enjoy.

Laura: Yeah, and doing something I loved.  And they were already fun to work with.  And in the meantime, the SplashData which was one hour a day, the iPhone app store was coming to be so they started developing an app for the iPhone and they wanted me to support that.  So suddenly, my one hour a day went from one hour to like 8 hours a day.

Lisette: Oh wow!

Laura: So suddenly, I sat at home doing 12 hours a day of work, yeah.

Lisette: So you went from part-time to one and a half time.

Laura: Yeah, one and a half time, yeah.

Lisette: Almost two, yeah.  Wow!

Laura: Yeah, so it just sort of came about.  I always believe if you work hard and you love what you’re doing, these things just work out.

Lisette: Yeah.  And in fact, I told people the story of you working in the forum that was always something that struck me.  And I thought if you really want a job in a particular place, then you need to put yourself in that place.

Laura: Yeah.

Lisette: Yeah, and just learn the territory.

Laura: Yeah.  And I was doing it without that in mind.  I had no intention in mind.  I just enjoyed doing it and it just worked out amazingly for me.

Lisette: Right.  And so when did GoLightly come about?

Laura: Oh, so then that was like first three months of the iPhone app coming out.  It was like 8 hours a day with SplashData. And then obviously, that died down gradually so then I’m still doing maybe 6 or 7 hours a day.   Then I see a game from Craigslist, this ad from GoLightly just wanting one or two hours a day and I thought “That’s perfect.”  So I called it up.  I had no idea who GoLightly was.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And of course, I spoke with Dale Mcgroove who’s just absolutely wonderful, [inaudible 7:29] and got the job with GoLightly.  So then I was doing three jobs.  So Microsoft was 4 hours a day, SplashData was maybe 3 or 4 hours a day, and GoLightly was one or two hours a day.

Lisette: So that’s still quite a lot of work.

Laura: Yeah, still quite a lot of work but because you’re doing it from home, I would get up, start the work at 6 o’clock in the morning so by 6 o’clock at night, I can do 11, 12 hours a day.  But because you haven’t got the commute and because you can still do a few jobs here, and 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there looking after the house is not like you’re out to work for 12 hours a day coming home absolutely exhausted in the evening without wanting to do anything other than just collapse.

Lisette: Right.  So then for you, it sounds like that was really a clear benefit for remote working is that you love what you do and you got to do it from home so you could keep up with all the things that you needed to do at home.

Laura: That’s right.

Lisette: Plus work remotely.

Laura: Yeah.  And I still wanted to be here for my son.  I don’t want to be stuck in an office where I feel guilty about getting on the phone when my son needed me.  If I wanted to take off for an hour to help him out with something.  My main point of living is to be here for my children and if they need me, I want to be able to go do what I need to do.

Lisette: Right.  And in that case, as long as you’re getting the work done which I know from working with you that you always did, then it was no problem for everybody and it’s a win-win for both the company and yourself.

Laura: That’s right.  And you know for the company especially for somebody like GoLightly who doesn’t need a fulltime person, they don’t want to have to pay somebody 8 hours a day if they’re sitting around for most of that time waiting for a question.  They only had to pay me for the work I did so if there was not much to [inaudible 9:16], it didn’t cost them too much.  So I think it’s ideal in the cases where you don’t know what your work load is as far as the company is concerned.  And because you had enough from so many different places, then you’re able to balance it for yourself as well.  That’s right and the sort of work I did for SplashData is very much 5 minutes per question possibly for each customer so it’s very easy just to break off and do what I needed to do for GoLightly or anybody else.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: It’s not like you’re in the middle of a thought process that takes hours like trying to write a document or trying to write a project plan.  It wasn’t that sort of work.  It’s very much just 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there.

Lisette: Right.  Somebody has a question and then you answer it.

Laura: Yeah, and then that’s done.  So it goes out of my head basically.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And then I can go to the next one.

Lisette: So what are some of the other benefits that were there so that the main one was being there for your children and some of the other benefits that you really enjoy?

Laura: Well I think I have quite a large house so it takes quite a lot of cleaning still so that’s to say I can still do 10 minutes here and there.  It’s amazing how much you can get done through the day and still get your work done.  I also have a Taekwondo class I get to every evening so come 6 o’clock in the evening, I’m ready to get out of the house.  I’ve been here all day.  So it’s very easy for me to say, “Yeah, I need to get out of the house” and I’d go and exercise.  So it makes you want to exercise.  Whereas I think when you work in an office, you just want to come home and collapse.  The last thing you want to do is come home, get changed, and go out again.

Lisette: Right, because you’ve been out all day long.

Laura: Yeah.  So it’s just really fitting my lifestyle, yeah.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: Also, I mean just getting those 12 hours.  I don’t think I could work 12 hours a day in an office.  But somehow working 12 hours a day at home on different projects was just I never find a long day.  I never find it difficult to do those 12 hours.  It’s always fun.

Lisette: Well and part of it is also you love the work that you do.

Laura: Yeah, I do.

Lisette: Right so on top of the remote working so it’s not just a job.  You actually love what you do.

Laura: Yeah.  I mean each customer to me is so special and I so want to help them.  I mean I had a support case just yesterday.  A woman had lost her data and she said that “I’m blind” and how can she retrieve this data and it was just great to be able to step her through steps and actually at the end of it for her to say, “Yeah!”  She got the data back, it’s all good.  She’s all set.  I mean that’s a wonderful feeling.

Lisette: Right.  It’s a short personal fun connection that you can have.

Laura: Yeah.  I never get lonely through the day because I feel like I’m talking to people all day long.  I’m having conversations with lots of different people all through the day.

Lisette: Right, right.  I actually had that same experience when we were working together because we spoke all the time.

Laura: That’s right.

Lisette: Yeah, and we spoke with clients all the time so actually by the time I was done with work, I felt like I’ve been talking all day long even though I was just here in my room.

Laura: That’s right.  Yeah.

Lisette: And I felt like I have been social because I’ve been connecting with people.

Laura: That’s right.  That’s right.  I mean there’s definitely days when it’s like I do just want to collapse and not talk to anybody even though I haven’t seen anybody all day.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: It feels like you have.

Lisette: So what then do you find very challenging about working remotely.

Laura: Well I think everybody has to be disciplined and that’s what you and I, I think, work so well together because we were very disciplined.  It’s like a few days ago is an example.  I had somebody ask me a question.  I [inaudible 13:06] something and they said, “Oh, can I do a screen show with you?”  I said sure. I said “Okay, I’m ready.”  And that was it.  I didn’t hear from them for 45 minutes.  45 minutes later, he comes back, he’s “Oh sorry.  I had a phone call.”  Well I think you have to treat your Skype messages or any instant message the same as you would a conversation if somebody was in the office.  You wouldn’t call across to somebody in the office and say, “Oh, Lisette, I have a question for you.”  You wouldn’t then turn away and walk away from them.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And that’s what people do with Skype.   They have a question or they don’t finish the conversation.  It’s like “Oh I wonder if they’re coming back to me or not.”

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And that’s really annoying when you go want to back and get on with some other work and you just sat there waiting for somebody.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: So it’s incredibly important to be disciplined on Skype or whatever messenger you use.  And also when we have online meetings, it’s really important to be on time, to be there at the start time.  I mean especially if you are hosting it for a customer.  You have to be there a few minutes before the customer.  And it’s amazing how many people don’t do that; whereas you and I were always really good at that.  It is like we were scared that we weren’t ready or it’s always 5 or 10 minutes before it’s actually due to begin.

Lisette: Right.  Yeah, we took the start times very seriously.

Laura: Yeah.  So I think you just have to be even more disciplined than you do in an office because people don’t see what you’re doing.  They only see their end so you have to make sure they’re aware of what you’re doing.

Lisette: Yeah, and in many of the interviews that I’ve done, the increased amount of communication or the more efficient communication has been very important with remote working because when you’re in an office, you can just call across the desk and say, “Hey Joe, I have a question for you” whereas with remote working, there’s just that one extra layer in between and to keep that constant conversation so that you’re still brainstorming, you’re still part of the team is extra difficult.

Laura: Yes.  I mean sometimes it’s difficult when you keep having questions when a new software comes out and you keep having questions about it.  Sometimes you feel like keep sending emails is pestering them too much because you don’t want to burden somebody’s inbox whereas in the office, as you say, turn to that person and say, “What is that doing?  How does that work and could you just go over that again?”  and that’s more difficult.

Lisette: I didn’t even think about that’s true.

Laura: Yeah.  So it’s actually important to have quite regular meetings not for anything specific just to discuss how a new version of a software works.  It’s actually quite important.  And in fact, SplashData, we started that.  I think we need regular weekly meetings that we do that and we just discuss what cases that come up through the week, how we’ve handled them just to compare notes.

Lisette: Right, just to really, you have to bond the team in a different way.

Laura: That’s right.  I think you have to talk with each other and have an hour set aside or whatever where you can just talk and discuss and as you say, bond.

Lisette: Right, because there’s no water cooler online.

Laura: That’s right, that’s right.

Lisette: Yeah, okay.  So then I’m curious about the technologies that you like to use.  You brought up Skype clearly and you and I know you and I use Skype and just the Google Hangout but are there other collaboration technologies that you particularly like for sharing resources or networking or talking?

Laura: Yeah, I mean we used go to meeting a lot and that was a really good tool.  I also now use Join Me because that’s actually just like a hundred or something a year.  So as a personal tool, I use that quite a bit because I can afford to just purchase that myself.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And Skype.  I use Messenger because you can also add Yahoo Messenger to that so you have all your Yahoo contacts.

Lisette: And what about the companies that you work with?  What kind of technologies do they use to communicate with you?

Laura: Yeah, they tend to use Skype just to name one.

Lisette: Oh really?  Yeah.  Okay.  So and then in terms of emails and HR policies, is it more of a Skype or is it still the same?  Is it still the same amount of emails?

Laura: What do you mean by HR policies?

Lisette: Well, when you get hired in a company, they have particular policies and rules that you have to follow.

Laura: Oh really?  Well certainly Microsoft had their policies.  That was the hardest thing ever.

Lisette: And how did they communicate those?

Laura: Those were email, mainly email and a few phone calls.

Lisette: Okay.  Let’s see.  I mean if you had some advice to give for teams that were going to work remotely, what would you say?  So maybe for an office that were starting out, is there anything in particular that you would say?

Laura: I would definitely say have a good discipline for Skype or any messenger that you use.  I mean I would almost write up an etiquette on how to finish a conversation, how not to just leave somebody hanging.  That’s so important.  I would also say regular meetings, I mean weekly or more depending on the sort of work you’re doing and the sort of software you are supporting.

Lisette: I enjoyed the daily [inaudible 18:51] meetings that we had.

Laura: Yeah, I was going to mention that.  Yeah, that was really good.  I mean it was difficult to tie people down.  Trouble is people remote working are doing it because they want flexibility, so to tie them down to a regular time everyday is maybe a bit overkill.  But certainly once a week I think you can tie them down to a particular time.

Lisette: Certainly and I think that different project require different kind of meetings.  Some things would be Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  I think we ended up going Monday, Wednesday, Friday at some point or maybe even just twice a week, Monday and Friday of planning and the retrospective so it probably is customizable to the team of course.

Laura: Yeah.  And certainly just to check in with each other each day and see if you want to meet in that day and possibly do it on a daily basis and see what time everybody wants to get together if you want to do it everyday.

Lisette: Right.  Okay, so having regular meetings, the Skype etiquette, and we had developed the Skype etiquette and were very good about keeping our Skype status completely accurate and even with a little note as to “Hey, I’m on a 10 minute walk.  I’ll be right back.”

Laura: Yeah.  You were so good at that.

Lisette: Well yeah.  You were always online so there was never any reason for you to Skype status.

Laura: Yeah.  I never went anywhere.

Lisette: And so and so later but I felt like people always say like “Oh, I feel very isolated working remotely.”  But I felt that with us, it was almost as if we were working in an office together.

Laura: Yeah.

Lisette: Even though I am most of the time that we really had a way of getting the dialogue to go back and forth very easily as if we were in an office together.

Laura: Yeah, absolutely, yes.  It worked really well, yeah.

Lisette: Yeah.  It felt like it did work really well and it’s interesting because people that say “Oh, it wouldn’t work for me to do remote working.”  I think “Well, with a certain amount of discipline, in fact, I think it would work.”  But of course, I’m a huge proponent of remote working.

Laura: Well I just think there is so much time wasted going to an office.  I mean you spend, even if the office is 10 minutes away, to actually put your makeup on or whatever you have to do, get dressed, get in the car, drive there, park, get in the office.  I mean it’s still 20 minutes each way, that’s 40 minutes each day where you’re not doing anything, where you’re not earning, you’re just wasting your time using gas costing you money.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: So I mean I get up at quarter to 6 in the morning.  At 6 o’clock, I’m sat at my computer which is useful because if we have any East Coast customers often, they’re at 9 o’clock, they’re wanting help so I can help them at 6 o’clock in the morning.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: So I do a couple of hours of work then I go shower and get dressed.  And I still have 12 hours in my day to do work if need be.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: So it’s just so efficient.  And I mean the company doesn’t have to pay for office space, doesn’t have to pay the parking space.  I mean it just must be a win-win situation.

Lisette: Right.  So I’ve recently gone back to working in an office again fulltime for a client so I’ve been seeing the other side of it from going remotely all by myself in my apartment to working in an office.  It’s been more different and I can see there are some benefits of being in an office.

Laura: For sure.

Lisette: I mean the speed of collaboration when you’re just sitting there is incredible.  I mean you and I did the best job that we possibly could have but the instant real time of things hanging around and just knowing what’s going on because it’s so open in the office is really valuable.

Laura: Yes.

Lisette: And I think that’s missed in remote working.  That’s for sure missed in remote working.  However I think that after the experience that you and I had that it’s not critical.  The way we made it work so well that I’ve now seen the other side.  It’s just not critical.  So while it’s nice, you can move really quickly, and everybody can have a brainstorming session together where we can physically hang sticky notes on the wall and move things around.  You need to find a different technique for doing that kind of thing online.

Laura: Yeah, I mean what you miss out is what you overhear.  I mean sometimes, the conversations you overhear can be as useful as ones you have with somebody.

Lisette: Yeah.

Laura: You think, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”  And you’re just working but you’re listening in.  It’s like that is something I miss out on.  You miss that and that’s kind of important.  And it’s certainly for technical support because you do need to hear exactly how the software should work in all sorts of different ways and why it was designed the way it was designed and programmed the way it was programmed and things like that.

Lisette: Right.  And you just miss out on the little things and that are definitely detrimental.

Laura: Yeah, it’s true.

Lisette: Yeah.  Any other things that you can think of in trying to think of like the differences in terms of detriments or challenges or maybe things that you found you’ve seen other people find challenging in remote working?

Laura: Yeah, I’m trying to think.  And certainly, when you’re in different time zones.

Lisette: That’s true.

Laura: You would go offline what sort of midday 2 o’clock and then I’d have a question and “Oh, no, Lisettes gone now.  She’s in bed.  Can’t ask her a question now.”

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And I mean I have other people I work with in Europe or people who have kids during the day because they have kids during the day so they want to work in the evening and late in the evening so then I don’t see them much during the day because I’m working during the day and they’re working at evening even though we’re in the same time zone.

Lisette: Right.

Laura: And they want to work late at night.  Well, 10 PM for me, that’s it, I’m dead.

Lisette: That’s what it was for me because I’m 9 hours ahead of you in the Netherlands and 10 PM for me was 1 PM in the afternoon for you.  And really, by the time 10PM came around, I was really done.

Laura: Yeah, your brain can’t cope anymore.  That’s right.

Lisette: And I did work later but overtime, I found that working that late for me was just too much.  I just was waking up feeling tired even though I’d sleep enough because I was able to sleep in in the morning.  Still, it just wasn’t the right schedule for me so I made 10 PM a limit for me.

Laura: Yeah.

Lisette: So the time zone is definitely a challenge.  So I was really grateful that you got up at 6 in the morning.  That worked for me.

Laura: That’s right.

Lisette: And I was willing to work until 10 PM.

Laura: You’re still fresh.

Lisette: Yeah.  Yeah, so that really worked out.  And I can imagine that if we were working futher apart like if I were in India or in Australia that that would actually increase the challenge because they’re really…

Laura: That’s right.  They’re the opposite, yeah.

Lisette: Yeah, I found that overlap was important that we had so much overlap.  We had at least what was it 6 or 7 hours a day together?

Laura: 6, 7 hours, that’s right, which is almost like a full working day, yeah. That’s right.

Lisette: So that was a benefit.  I mean the benefit was you were willing to get up early and I was willing to work late every night.

Laura: That’s right.

Lisette: That really worked out.

Laura: Yeah.

Lisette: But still, at 1 PM, I was offline and then you had to wait ‘til the next day.

Laura: I mean I really miss that.  I miss having somebody to talk things through that you can totally trust and just say, “Oh my God!  I really don’t understand what this is” and to be able to say that to somebody to have that sort of relationship.  And it’s not often you have that sort of relationship with a remote worker where you can just Skype them all instant messages and say, “Help!  I don’t understand.  Let’s talk this through.”

Lisette: Right, that is true.  I mean I would think that forming bonds in an office environment would be much easier because you’re just together every day.  I mean right now, I work in an office with people who are really into football or soccer over here and I know nothing about the sport.  I mean it’s not that I’m disinterested.  I simply don’t know anything about the sport.  I have other interests.  But even despite our differences, we’re still bonding on all kinds of different things.  I mean there’s the little things because we’re together every single day.

Laura: That’s right.  Yeah.

Lisette: Whereas remote working, we don’t have that.

Laura: Yeah, it’s true.

Lisette: Yeah.  So how do you do that?  How do you create community with the people that you work with remotely?

Laura: Well I think the daily or weekly meetings were important and to have some time just to chat.  It doesn’t have to be work, work, work because you do have to bond.  And also at SplashData for instance, we did every three months, we would have a real time meeting in an actual office.

Lisette: Oh, okay.

Laura: And we went out for lunch and that was quite nice.

Lisette: So you did get together periodically as a team.  That just brought everybody together.

Laura: Yeah.  Yeah, so we did that occasionally.  The trouble is one person was in LA and they’re local so it was fine for me but the person in LA and there’s another person in Sacramento so they had quite a journey to actually come for one day to have a 3 hour meeting and a lunch.  That was a long way to come.

Lisette: Right.  It’s a full, full day for them.  On the other hand, the face to face time is worth it.

Laura: Yeah, it was good.

Lisette: And so I should mention that with you and Gretchen and myself at GoLightly, we had virtual lunches together.  And I thought that that was once we started that, I thought that was just a great idea because it was just a chance to…

Laura: That’s right.  When you’ve actually just get together and not having to talk work, yeah, that’s important.

Lisette: Well the eating online was sort of just symbolic of just having lunch together.

Laura: Yeah.

Lisette: I thought that was great.  I thought that was great.

Laura: Sure.

Lisette: Okay.  So let’s see.  We’re nearing the half hour mark so then I want to put up the #remoteinterview.   If you have any questions for Laura, you can ask them on the #remoteinterview Twitter.  Is there anything else, Laura, that you want to add or that I didn’t ask about that you want to mention about just your experiences with remote working which you like, which you don’t like, anything that I didn’t cover?

Laura: I think we covered most of it, yeah.  I mean for me, it’s just being such a benefit to say just to be at home to be able to do this number of hours as to say I could not be in an office for 12 hours and do 12 hours of work.  I know that.  I could only do it because I have the flexibility and the comfort of doing it in my own home. so yeah.

Lisette: So it allows you to work more.

Laura: That’s right.

Lisette: And for more [inaudible 30:12].

Laura: Yeah, that’s right.

Lisette: And take [inaudible 30:16].

Laura: Yeah, take care of the kids, yeah.  Sorry, you’re breaking up.

Lisette: Oh sorry.

Laura: That’s okay.

Lisette: I was interrupting as I am prone to do.

Laura: No, not at all.

Lisette: Okay, well then how about we’ll end the broadcast here and thank you everybody for joining.  And thank you, Laura, for allowing me to do this interview with you.  It’s always fun.

Laura: Yeah, thank you.  That’s great.

Lisette: Okay, talk to you soon!

Laura: Yeah.

Lisette: Okay.

Laura: Bye!

Lisette: Bye!


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