When there is a contest between home and family, Marieke Guy is the clear winner. And the most rewarding part? Both home and family are winners. Marieke is a teleworking guru, and the rest of us are lucky enough to be beneficiaries of her great experience.
Marieke is an Institutional Support Officer for the Digital Curation Centre, working in a distributed team of three partners: University of Bath, University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow, in a research group called UKOLN. As ISO, she works to raise awareness and build capacity for institutional research data management at the different universities. Marieke has been doing this work from home since 2008.
After the birth of her third child (currently, they are 5, 8 and 10), Marieke’s part-time work developed into a work-from-home situation. “The transition was fine,” says Marieke. Communication was key. “I started working from home after maternity leave so I’d already had 9 months out of the office. I think at the start I spent an hour a day on the phone to my boss discussing work and ideas! It almost felt like I was there!”
Developing a good working relationship with people is an important part of a successful experience with telework. “I think it’s always useful to meet people at the start. That way you get some context to any remote discussions with them.” Marieke does travel, but she’s also keen to promote virtual meet ups, too, using tools such as Adobe Connect and Blackboard Collaborate. She has organized online meetings, online events, and webinars, and uses Skype, email, IM Twitter and similar tools. Other recommended essentials are headphones and a good web cam.
An important reward Marieke allows herself is staying in touch and connected with co-workers. “I particularly like the remote worker Skype chat we have every Tuesday. It’s a great way to catch up on gossip!” She has been so supportive of other remote workers that she has actually been named “Champion for Remote Workers”. One “silly but annoying” thing about being a remote worker/teleworker/home worker is not being able to sign people’s birthday/wedding/leaving cards. Otherwise, she does visit Bath regularly and catches up with co-workers when she’s there. “I’m quite a sociable person and am often out-and-about so I don’t feel like I’m lacking social interaction time.” But imagine how nice it would be if someone came up with a remote-worker-greeting-card-signing app!
Marieke’s stellar performance from her home office is matched by her award-worthy activities as a working mother. “Juggling a job and motherhood is hard – anyone who does will know that! The hardest part is separating the two. What makes this work is having a good system in place: a reliable nursery, a good school with after-school care, friends and family that can help. Once you have that you can concentrate on working.” She takes care of work, and has plenty of time to be an active participant in her family life. “I’m in the school parents/teachers association. I like to jog, read, knit, go to see bands and am a member of my local Friends of the Earth.” She uses great devices and apps to keep track of both home and family. Along with her iMac for work, her Samsung Q230 laptop for travel, and her iPhone, her kids are wireless with their iPod touches and her husband has his blackberry.
As Champion for Remote Workers, Marieke leaves these words for every potential teleworker: “There are two big skills you need when you are working from home: self-motivation (nobody is there to tell you to get on with it) and discipline (nobody is there to tell you to stop doing it!)” About remote work, Marieke says, “I’ve been very lucky. I have a good balance.” Marieke will share her experience and expertise with anyone wanting to telework. As she does, it’s clear who the real winner is. No contest, Marieke!