Marieke is a digital academic and a remote worker from her base in the beautiful Cotswolds of South West England. She runs an excellent blog full of great tips on how to successfully work online. Read all about her ‘remote working’ life.
1. Where are you from originally?
That’s a good question! I’ve lived all over the place from the South East and North East to the North West and now I live in the South West. I have a southern accent though. Oh and my mother is Dutch, hence my name.
2. Where do you live now?
3. What first attracted you to your new home? Did you try anywhere else on the way? Did you move for work or for lifestyle?
We liked the area and my husband’s job was nearby so we moved for work and lifestyle.
4. What kind of property do you live in now? Will you stay here? What’s your ideal place to live in within your new country?
We live in a house that we’ve bought and hopefully we won’t be moving for a long while. Unfortunately it isn’t abroad!
5. Are you speaking a new language? If so, how did you learn?
No new language needed. I can speak a bit of German, Dutch, Spanish and French. No good at any of them!
6. What do you do for a living? Where do you physically work from? Do you work with clients/customers back in your home country or your new one?
I work for UKOLN, a research group based at the University of Bath. I currently work on a project for the Digital Curation Centre (DCC). DCC has three partners: University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow and University of Bath – so we are a distributed team.
I physically work from home in Cirencester but spend quite a lot of time out-and-about visiting institutions I’m working with.
7. Do you work online? If so, what is the internet connectivity like? What software do you commonly use on day to day basis? What would be your top tip for online working from your new country?
I have reasonable broadband at home and I connect to the University Bath using VPN. At the moment I have the following programmes open: Word, Powerpoint, Thunderbird email, Skype, Twitter, iTunes, Gimp (a mac image software), Firefox and Finder & dropbox. Fairly typical for me.
9. Do you have children? If so, how did they adapt to the move?
How are their schools? Are they bi-lingual? Are their good future career opportunities within your new country?
I have three children aged 10, 8 and 5.
10. Is your life better than it was before? If so, how?
Remote working works out perfectly for me. It allows me to be committed to work while still having a home life.
11. Did you find remote working a challenge or a pleasure at first?
I think whether it’s a pleasure or a challenge very much depends on what you are working on. In that sense it’s very much like normal work. At the beginning it felt a little strange but I started straight after maternity leave so I’d already had 9 months out of the office. My boss at the time was very keen for us to keep in touch. I think at the start I spent an hour a day on the phone with him discussing work and ideas!! It almost felt like I was physically in the office!
12. What are the best things about remote working for you and what are the most challenging?
The best thing is the work/life balance. I can take my children to school, be there on the days when they have special events and be more involved in their lives. I also love not having to commute anywhere! The most challenging aspect is feeling truly integrated into an organisation. I started off working at the office and then moved on to remote working so I know my organization and the people in it pretty well. That said you often feel like you are out of the loop when things happen. This became particularly clear when a group of us had to reapply for our jobs last year.
13. What do you think a new remote worker would find most difficult when converting to a remote working lifestyle do you think?
You need to get used to being alone. There isn’t anyone physically near to you, nobody you can get a quick coffee with or have a joke with. However there is a whole world of people who are in the same virtual space as you, so why not make the coffee and sit and have a joke with them.
14. Are you now a remote worker for good? If so, why? If no , why not?
Who knows what the future will bring? I like to believe I could go back to work in an office (or elsewhere). I think as my children get older I probably will move back to a more traditional working arrangement.
15. Any partings words to people thinking of becoming a remote worker?
It doesn’t work for everyone and you only get out of it what you put in to it. If you can put a lot in then it can make your life be about a lot more than just work.
About Marieke Guy
Marieke Guy works for UKOLN, a centre of expertise which advises on digital infrastructure, information policy and data management, based at the University of Bath. She has been a remote worker for over 4 years and works from her home in Cirencester Gloucestershire. In 2009 she the won remote worker of the year award at the Remote Worker Awards, held at Cliveden House, Berkshire. Marieke has written and spoken extensively on the challenges and opportunities, both technical and cultural, of remote working.