Remote Work: Laura Adams On How To Successfully Navigate The Opportunities & Challenges Of Working Remotely Or From Home
An Interview With David Liu
To prevent isolation, you should routinely plan time with friends and family during your time off. That social interaction can re-energize you and improve your mental wellbeing.
As a part of our series about the things you need to successfully work remotely, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Adams.
Laura Adams, MBA, is a personal finance expert with InsuranceProviders.com, an award-winning author, and host of Money Girl, a top-rated weekly audio podcast. She’s frequently quoted in the national media, and millions of readers and listeners benefit from her practical financial advice. Laura’s mission is to empower consumers to make smart money decisions every day through her speaking, spokesperson, and advocacy work.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?
You might be surprised that I didn’t set out to become a finance expert or writer. As a young high school kid, I enjoyed managing money and couldn’t wait to get my own checking account. But after college graduation, I fell into the trap that so many people do: living above my means. I rented apartments that I couldn’t afford, spent too much on vacations, and became a shopaholic.
Since then, my passion for spending has turned into a passion for saving, investing, planning, and every aspect of personal finances. Over the years, I became a serious finance student and received my MBA from the University of Florida.
My career has been diverse. I’ve worked in accounting and real estate, owned a floor covering business, consulted and trained for a Fortune 100 company, and been a COO for a small company.
Now, I’m passionate about working as a spokesperson for select companies, such as InsuranceProviders.com, and promoting critical financial topics in the national media. Since 2013, I’ve completed more than 2,500 live and taped interviews with national TV and radio show hosts, news reporters, and print and online journalists. My mission is to help over 100 million consumers and students live richer lives through my podcasting, writing, spokesperson, and advocacy work.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting or exciting thing that’s happened in my career so far is the feedback I receive from readers and podcast listeners. Countless people have told me that I inspired them to start businesses, begin saving for a child’s education, or get their finances in shape after a hardship. The comments and questions that I receive fuel me to continue writing, speaking, and podcasting about complex financial topics in easy-to-understand ways.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?
If your job has some flexibility, you may be able to start work early in the morning and end the day relatively early. You may also be able to work from a coffee shop or anywhere with an Internet connection. And depending on your personality, not having in-person colleagues may be a positive or a negative!
The downsides of remote work typically come down to time management. Without a healthy routine or separation from family life, you may find it challenging to stay laser-focused on your work. And if you get energy from social interactions, remote work may leave you feeling empty and isolated.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
- Being productive despite many daily distractions in your personal life.
- Feeling isolated from others.
- Not having the opportunity to spend time with company leaders.
- Missing chance encounters with colleagues that spark ideas.
- Overworking because you don’t have a natural separation from your job.
Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?
- To say productive, you must make necessary adjustments, such as preparing lunch ahead of time or making sure you have childcare. The more you pretend that you’re working in a real office instead of your home, the better organized you may be.
- To prevent isolation, you should routinely plan time with friends and family during your time off. That social interaction can re-energize you and improve your mental wellbeing.
- If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough face time with leaders in your company, be proactive and ask if you can schedule periodic video calls with them.
- Not having chance encounters with colleagues is a downside you can’t completely remedy. However, if you use a communication system, such as Slack, you can set reminders to reach out to teammates and ask what they’re working on.
- Setting a reasonable work schedule and sticking to it is best to avoid overworking and burnout.
Do you have any suggestions specifically for people who work at home? What are a few ways to be most productive when you work at home?
My most recent book, Money-Smart Solopreneur — A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, includes many productivity tips that also apply to employees. Here are a few to try out:
- Give It Ten is my rule for when you’re procrastinating on a task. The idea is to tell yourself that you’ll work on it for ten minutes. While you might not complete it, beginning the work can unlock your ability to maintain momentum and get it done.
- Match Tasks to Energy is my rule for noticing how you feel about work and adjusting. For instance, knock out some administrative or low-priority tasks if you’re not thinking clearly. Wait until you feel more alert to complete high-priority work.
- Schedule Everything is my rule for getting more done. When you have your entire day mapped out, it’s easier to stay on track and avoid distractions.
Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic? Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?
One suggestion is to avoid having too many video calls. While they make you feel connected to your team, they can also be significant distractions from getting work done. Consider having some work calls via phone to allow people to get away from their computers or reduce their total screen time.
What do you suggest can be done to create an empowering work culture and team culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?
Short, weekly meetings designed to celebrate wins, acknowledge people, and reinforce company values and culture can be very effective for a remote workforce.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
The movement I would start is “Find a mentor, be a mentor, and change the world.”
No matter your industry, career, or personal interest, you have the skills and knowledge to help someone. Likewise, we can all get help for professional or personal challenges from someone who has more knowledge and experience than we do.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I often think about Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” It’s a great reminder that we can usually achieve much more than we realize.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Let’s connect at LauraDAdams.com!
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.