The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Remote Work
REMOTE WORK - is something thats SUPER hot right now- everyone wants to know what, how, why etc….I mean, it makes sense, right? Who doesn’t want to work from their PJs all day every day, be their own boss, and take afternoon breaks while walking the dog? 🙋🏻
Yes, it’s a great life- but my journey to get where I am today, has been exactly that- a JOURNEY.
My first job....
I went to college for public communications and right from college moved to NYC and started working for a PR agency. I was working on the consumer facing side of the business- trying to get media coverage for companies like SHARP electronics, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and SK II Skincare. I was making nearly nothing and working my butt off while also working in a bar at night to make ends meet.
Long story short- I hated it. I always said I would NEVER sit in a cubicle and do the 9-5 life, yet there I was. Needless to say this didn’t last long- I was there for about a year and half (but did manage to get a promotion during my time there) but ended up leaving to go work for my first “start up.”
My second job...
This next job was… well, interesting. It came to me through a friend of a friend, and it was a lot less “secure” than my past job. It was at a clothing store in NYC that had a brick and mortar retail store that sold mostly high-end men’s clothing and suits - but at discounted prices. They were looking for someone to help them create an e-commerce site and increase their social following, as well as help them expand their business to carry women’s clothing as well.
At this point in my life I REALLY thought I wanted to work in fashion, so this was REALLY enticing. What made it even MORE enticing was the fact that they offered me almost 10K more per year than what I was making.
But, before you think this is a DREAM situation, let me paint a picture for you- I was going from working in a relatively large, corporate agency - to working for a little retail store. This “team” was just ME. The owner, the sales associates and ME. One woman show. No “direct boss” or “co-worker”. Just ME.
It didn’t take long for me to decide to take this job, but then to also realize that it was certainly NOT what I signed up for. I didn’t have an office (literally, I was standing at the cash register with a laptop). By Day 2 the owner was trying to get me to be a sales associate. I found out he didn’t “believe” in social media. The laundry list goes on and on but you get the point- it was NOT what I signed up for.
I stayed at that job for a year and learned a LOT. A lot about what I wanted in a job, in a boss, and how I wanted to be seen in the work world. My boss at this company was tough. He was rigid - mean at times and certainly manipulative. He made me feel weak for wanting to leave the job- so I stayed… until I walked out for lunch one day and never went back.
I took that entire Summer off after I left that job. I soul searched. I learned a LOT about myself. I dabbled with feeling like a failure, but then also feeling like I never wanted to work again (just being honest).
Come Fall I decided I needed to get my sh*t together (and who wants to be unemployed when you can’t lay by the pool?).
And the third...
I started looking for jobs and it didn’t take long before I found something - it was a female owned and operated company.
They created private label jewelry and were looking for a digital marketing manager to come in and help with the launch of their new brand, as well as e-commerce site. They promoted the idea of work-life balance and their employees all seemed very happy when I went in for the interview. The owner was nice, warm, welcoming and really sweet- and I was thinking that this would be a great managerial level role.
At this same time I was also interviewing with a fashion magazine (keep in mind I was still obsessed with fashion). This role was much lower- and was for a coordinator/just above entry level job. I went through MULTIPLE interviews - starting from the smallest office to the largest office.
I’m not sure if it’s just me or if everyone else feels this way- but I did understand that being in this type of setting (editorial) would come with a sacrifice when it comes to work-life balance, but it also was close to fulfilling my "dream" of working in fashion.
So- I got offers from both companies. One offer was significantly lower, of course - but it was a totally new door, with new mentors and opportunities. Now comes decision making time, big girl pants, forward thinking… the whole shebang.
I’m a hard worker - for SURE. But I’m also a QUICK worker and a believer in doing things efficiently and well, so that you can get out there and enjoy the life you’re working so hard to create.
I thought about how my life would pan out 5, 10, 15 years down the road in each scenario. I made a goddamn Venn diagram - and guess what? It didn’t make the decision easier.
I finally decided that after being in SUCH a tough job before, working my ass off just to get verbally abused - that I wanted the work-life balance. I took the job with the jewelry company and turned down the magazine.
I worked with the jewelry company for about a year- and it was great. People were nice, the hours were UNREAL and the business was doing OK. I only contemplated started looking for other opportunities because I didn’t feel challenged.
I felt like I wasn’t being pushed to be the best version of me. I wasn't learning. And I felt stagnant.
I started keeping my eye out for new positions but wasn't actively LOOKING - until one day a good friend of mine sent me a job posting that he found that he thought Id like.
I had ALWAYS wanted to work remotely but honestly thought it was a shot in the dark. There’s no way I could do that.. and make money? impossible. Full salary? Dream big.
One click into this job posting and I realized it was my DREAM job.
In the wellness space, full time, working remote- and literally a combination of all the things I do- digital marketing, creative design, PR and social media.
I applied and after a few (nail-biting) interviews, they offered me the job. I of course took it and started working remotely for this company about 4 weeks later. It was SURREAL. Everything I wanted was coming to fruition.
By this point in my life I had moved out of NYC and in with my boyfriend- so the idea of not having to do the commute into NYC everyday was amazing- but I also realized I was going to be at home all day in my apartment.. alone. Quite a large jump from being in the city surrounded by thousands of people on the daily.
This, too, was a really small team- I was working directly with the social strategist (outside consultant the company hired) and the CEO. I was working full time, but was still adjusting to lots of things in my life- a new home, a new job, and a new social life.
Around the same time I moved in with Chris, is when I started this job, and I also started anxiety medication.
I felt uneasy. I felt upset. I felt LOST. But- HOW??? I had EVERYTHING I had ever wanted.
A boyfriend I lived with that I was madly in love with.
A job working REMOTE.
A job working in WELLNESS and YOGA (I was also teaching).
How could I be unhappy?
I was home alone majority of the day- and ended up feeling REALLY lonely and confined. Thank god I had Ollie (our dog) or I likely would have wound up somewhere.
I battled with this feeling for about 8-12 months or so before I started to settle into the lifestyle.
My job was going relatively well- but things were starting to blur- my weekends and evenings started to become work accessible hours, I started to feel pressured from all angles to ALWAYS be working.
I couldn’t escape work - I LIVED where I worked. How do you separate those two things?
I finally started to feel at ease when I began teaching more - I was picking up classes INSIDE of the 9-5 work hours to break up my day (mind you my hours were usually more like 6-4). It gave me an opportunity to get out- to socialize - to see the outside world and look away from my computer screen.
I had various peaks and valleys with my job as any job has- and about a year later ended up leaving the role to pursue things on my own and focus more on my yoga and my career.
Chris used to always say to me-
“if you’re doing these things for other people, why can’t you do them for yourself?”
So- here I am. Writing this blog. Trying to do them for myself.
The beginning of the remote work
When I left my most recent job- I had a couple things in the pipeline in terms of potential clients. I as certainly not leaving my full-time job without ANY leads.
People I had met through yoga that owned their own businesses and were looking for marketing help, studios that I know could use a social media boost... as soon as I had the time I started pitching myself to them in hopes that they would hire me.
I used sites like UpWork, WeWorkRemotely and remote.com to find other potential freelance remote rotes, and did that for a while. You can set up a profile (free) and apply for jobs, or people reach out directly. I worked with a home decor company, an online fitness company and was pretty much taking what I could get to make ends meet.
I started with one client.
Almost a year later I have four.
It’s a slow roll.
It’s a hustle.
But it’s something I wouldn’t trade for the WORLD.
I still have anxious days, lonely days, sad days.
I learn new things EVERY day about this lifestyle, about building a business and about myself. I am certainly NO expert, but if you are interested in a remote type of lifestyle/work life-
Here’s some of my top tips:
1. Be REALISTIC
Is the current field that you’re in, something that can truly be done remotely? Marketing, graphic design, public relations, (some) advertising, social media etc- are all common in the remote world. If you’re NOT in a job that is remote-world friendly, do you want to be remote enough that you would change career paths? Or fight to forge your own way in a new industry?
2. Side Hustle it Up!
Keep your full time gig and start a side hustle. The beauty of remote work is that it can be done anytime, anywhere. So, keep your full time job and start to build your remote work clients. Yes, this means evenings, early mornings and weekends.
- Decide if you want to work with multiple clients and be more “freelance” OR work remote full-time for one main company.
3. Utilize Resources
There’s SO many sites out there now catering to remote workers. Some of my favorite include:
- UPWORK - Where I found a few freelance Marketing clients while I was still working FT in corporate America
- WeWorkRemotely - Where you’ll find more full-time and part-time remote jobs. (not so much for hourly work)
- remote.Com - another great site for freelancing hourly jobs
- LinkedIn, Indeed - you’d be surprised how many remote jobs you can find on these more common sites
4. TEST Run
Give yourself a few days (if you can) to work from home. Notice a few things
- What is your productivity level like? How does it compare to being in an office?
- Are you going to miss the in-person connect of being in an office?
- if YES- how can you make slight changes in a remote role to accommodate those needs (lunchtime workout class, walk your dog, network @ coffee shops with other remote workers etc)
- How do you do with being in your home ALL day - do you have a separate space in your home you can dedicate to work?
5. SEPARATE Work and Home
It sounds counter-intuitive, right? But SO important. I live in a 500 sq ft apartment and have a little corner in the living room where my desk is. It’s where my work happens. Once i sit on the couch - it’s time to relax. Find a way to separate your two "things".
6. Set a Schedule
This will vary from your clients, and FT/PT roles - but set a schedule for yourself. I personally work 6/630-330/4. Setting these boundaries will not only help YOU to find a work life balance, but also your clients.
7. Get Organized
Especially if you’re working with multiple clients - use a google doc to track your time, get a planner to write things down (from meetings to tasks to personal time) and make sure you’re only taking on what you can handle. I rely heavily on my planner, as it helps me to remain organized from client to client and day to day.
8. Don't be AFRAID...
to try new things, but also to realize that something is NOT for you. Sometimes you need to push through to get to where you want- but remember that remote work is not for everyone.
Remote work is hard, and it's also not always an easy adjustment. So- if it's something you really want, or want to try- have patience, be prepared and enjoy the ride!
I hope these tips help - and feel free to leave comments below or shoot me an email with any questions!