Communication Practitioner, Communication Tips, Intercultural Communication, Remote work

5 keys lessons from hosting a #ThatRemoteLife Interview series

Just last week, I hosted a #ThatRemoteLife interview series which pulled together Digital Nomads, Homeschooling advocate, online tutoring CEO, A work from home director mom, an E commerce wiz and a TedX Speaker and Cultural Communications coach. What we all had in common was that we had been ahead of the COVID-19 induced #workfromhome curve and had been working remotely for quite some time now. In this way, it equipped each of us to highlight many of the remote work challenges and opportunities we had experienced and to provide a roadmap of sorts to assist those who are freshly initiated or forced into working remotely.

For those who know me, I have been on this #workfromwherever or #LocationIndependent life for quite sometime, to the point that I quit a dream job to pursue more flexibility which feeds my productivity and creativity (story coming soon).  While my niche is in development and cultural communications, I have picked up several tips while working remotely across borders and cultures for corporate clients and organisations in diverse industries. It therefore gave me a great appreciation for the nuances that come with working online and was happy to connect with like minded individuals that helped to validate several of the experiences I had and to introduce me to others. Below I summarize, the top 5 takeaways from hosting the #ThatRemoteLife series.

  1. Change is constant and challenging: Let’s face it, just about no one saw ‘this’ coming. Even for those who have worked in this way prior, we could never have imagined the extent to which our lives would be changed and how we would be forced to adapt in literally a matter of minutes. For the #DigitalNomads who thrive on travelling, it also meant, staying fixed in one location and indeed losing some of the very things that made you thrive. #ThatRemoteLife therefore reminded us that change brings fear, it can also bring panic but it also brings opportunities to help us to evolve and focus on the things we can change and how we respond to those that we cannot change.  Watch our Interview with Digital Nomad, Andrew Murdoch to hear more about how to navigate this change.

2. New ways of being brings new ways of doing: A major cry has been challenges linked to having children at home while working. many people are literally panicking about the inability to work and parent in the same go. Our #ThatRemoteLife interview was a reminder that 1. You are not alone and 2. COVID-19 has forced us to put on our creative caps. The key lessons were important for both parents and educators now teaching online and was  linked to the importance of routines at this time and engaging children as collaborators, learning their preffered learning styles to navigate this new way of being. Watch our Interview with Homeschooling advocate and online tutor, Jamellia Imani Blythe to hear more about new ways of balancing working from home and being more involved in the process of educating your children

3. Balance can be elusive, but bits can be achieved: Everyone speaks about work -life balance, what is still not clear is how many persons are really achieving this. Our #ThatRemoteLife interviews were a reminder that while some of us are a bit better of balancing the scales of productivity, doing what we love and tending to our well being, others have settled on very individual definitions of what balance means and work towards those accordingly, While we spoke to a work from home mom and wife, it was a reminder to adapt with your circumstances in mind and what can be meaningful for you. As she bluntly puts it, “sometimes alone time is literally watching a late movie with my spouse until we fall asleep and family time is literally just going outside for a quick walk”. This served as a meaningful reminder to pace yourselves while working remotely. Sure there are best practices, invest in better time management techniques, seek to finish work in specified time blocks but aim to achieve ‘balance’ that does not leave you overstretched. Watch our Interview with work from home mom and Director, Abigail Gripshover to hear more about working towards balance when working from home with a family.

4. Others are earning money online right now! You can too:  We’ve known for quite sometime that there are actually people making money by working online, well the terms Digital Nomad and Location Independent sprung from this entire forte. Yet many have been daunted and in some instances crippled by fear. “I don’t know where to start”, “I am not tech savvy”, I can’t set up payment platforms.  Our #ThatRemoteLife interview served as a reminder that time spent scrolling online, is time that could be earning even small sums that could eventually add up. In many ways, fear of failure is your greatest set back and this interview was filled with immediate non skilled to semi skilled ways to start earning online or how to move a phsyical product or service offering into the online space. Watch our Interview with Global Entrepreneur and E commerce enabler,  Olumide Gbenro to hear more about how you can start earning online now!

5. Communication and Flexibility is more important than ever! If you’ve been following me for sometime, you know this was coming for sure!The reality is that effective communication (both communication and comprehension skills) will always be a game changer. Now more than ever this is super important.  For this #ThatRemoteLife interview we focused on not just the importance of communication in the usual way, but communication that looks at differences in backgrounds, organisational cultures, personal differences and the need to be flexible in dealing with these differences. This session was a reminder that without the benefit of usual face to face contact and a quick pop in to the office, effective communication now needs to extend beyond crafting meaningful correspondence but taking into account the interpretation of these and the varied individual nuances that may affect how we are communicating. Watch our Interview TEDX Speaker, motivational speaker and Cultural Communications Coach,  Deborah Love Bradshaw to hear more about finding your value and that of your staff at this period and how to effectively engage through awareness of cultural differences and communication styles.

From what was quite a diverse range of sessions, these meaningful lessons have emerged and I trust they will help someone who feels lost, panicked and frustrated with this remote life. Are there other remote work issues you would love to see addressed? Let us know in the comments below.

Finally, Be sure to subscribe and turn notifications on my channel to see when next we go LiVE. I am also  sharing additional resources from our #ThatRemoteLife speakers, so do subscribe to my mailing list and have these delivered to your inbox.


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Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication strategist in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  She specialises in Intercultural Communication, International Development and Communication for Development (C4D) Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy on Youtube, on twitter via @InspiraShan, and learn more about her work via the projects page.

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