Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Remote Work: Rhea Freeman On How To Successfully Navigate The Opportunities & Challenges Of Working Remotely Or From Home

An Interview With David Liu

Let’s start with focus. People work in different ways and it’s important to find the way that works for you. As there are limited distractions, you have a great opportunity to really get those tasks accomplished, but it can be hard to stay focused. Setting yourself up with a clear schedule can help. Some people set timers on phones that mean that after however many minutes they get up and get a drink or walk around. This can help to focus people as there’s that goal there rather than it being a more relaxed approach.

As a part of our series about the things you need to successfully work remotely, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhea Freeman.

Rhea Freeman is a social media expert and small business coach based in the UK. In addition to running a membership group, Rhea is also the founder of the award winning Small & Supercharged Podcast and a Facebook group of the same name designed to help small businesses and influencers in the equestrian and rural space. She’s an award winning PR adviser, #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer and Meta Certified Lead Trainer who is also a public speaker and has given two TEDx talks.

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”?

I didn’t take the most direct route to get to this point, let me tell you, but equally I think that all the experiences that happen to us are there for a reason! I started off working outside, with horses, and became a riding instructor. This led me to write for magazines around my specialist subjects, which allowed me to write for brands, which led to traditional PR (obviously these transitions took a long time!). Over the years, social media started to provide brands with other ways to reach their target market- and that really interested me as I have always prided myself on being able to help brands promote themselves on a budget. As social media continued to grow, there was a real shift in spending and circulation on traditional media, and so I started to improve my skills and learn all I could about social media too. And this naturally increased my interest and knowledge around all other forms of digital marketing too. Now, I coach a handful of business owners one to one to help them develop their businesses and grow with help from social media and digital marketing, and I also work with a greater number of small business owners through my groups. I do all this from my office at home.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Oh, that’s a hard one! I think interesting things happen all the time and we have the power to make things interesting too! I think giving my first TEDx talk was certainly interesting. I learnt a lot about how to control my nerves, the importance of speaking up, and also the need to try new things and keep pushing that comfort zone. The fact that I applied to give the talk because I’d decided I needed to manage my nerves and become a better public speaker was also a random way to deal with the issue!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh, I think I have blocked these out! I try really hard to reframe mistakes as learning opportunities to help me deal with them a bit better and find the positives!

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

It’s so tricky- I hear more and more people who are burnt out or recovering from burnout, and I don’t think the global pandemic and current economic climate has helped. I think that making time for yourself and realising that if you don’t look after yourself, the rest doesn’t matter. You can’t work or perform or do anything if you don’t look after yourself, so you need to prioritise it.

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?

The main one has got to be travel time. I like to be as efficient as possible in everything I do, and sitting in a car for hours to get to a place to do something doesn’t feel efficient to me. The costs associated with this and the saving you can make is also really important- particularly when we’ve seen fuel prices rocket recently.

Aside from the logistics, I think it gives you more time to enjoy your life without compromising your work. You can drop the children off at school and still be back at your desk before ‘work’ begins. Or you can take your dog for a walk in your lunch hour without having to drive back to do it.

Another important point is that if you work remotely most of the time, you really do look forward to and utilise those trips to the office. You want to make sure you’re using the time to have in person meetings and doing tasks that you can’t just do on your own. I think it can make your time a lot more productive and rewarding both when you’re at home working and when you’re in the office.

Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?

Yes, of course. The first one has to be focus. Whilst it’s great being able to do home stuff when you’re working at home, it’s really important that that doesn’t compromise your work time or else the time you save on things like travel will be eaten up by ‘little jobs’ or tasks.

People respecting that you really are at work. Friends and family wouldn’t dream of dropping in to see you at work for a chat, but when you’re at home- even when working from home- people seem to forget that you really are still working! Be clear about this with your friends and family. You can still see them in your lunch break, but if they ‘pop over’ and stay for an hour or so in the middle of the work day, you could well get behind.

Loneliness, particularly if you’re the kind of person that thrives off other people and the energy and excitement of an office environment. If you’re on your own, loneliness and a feeling of isolation can be tricky when working from home.

Tech. We’re very lucky that technology allows us to connect with people all over the globe, but a slow internet connection when you’re on a Zoom meeting and missing every other word spoken can be incredibly frustrating. Equally, if others aren’t as good with tech, it can be frustrating to explain it regularly. This can take up a significant amount of time too.

Blurred lines. Where does work stop and home begin? This might be the physical presence of work stuff in your home and you not being able to take your mind off it, or even working more than you should do or need to because it’s all too easy. Although there are times when we all need to put in extra time, it’s important to make this an exception not the norm.

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?

Let’s start with focus. People work in different ways and it’s important to find the way that works for you. As there are limited distractions, you have a great opportunity to really get those tasks accomplished, but it can be hard to stay focused. Setting yourself up with a clear schedule can help. Some people set timers on phones that mean that after however many minutes they get up and get a drink or walk around. This can help to focus people as there’s that goal there rather than it being a more relaxed approach.

When it comes to friends and family not respecting the fact you really are working, you’re going to need to put your foot down. You’re simply not available when you’re working, just as you wouldn’t be available if you were at work in an office. It’ll mean saying no to people coming over, but they will get the message if you keep at it!

Loneliness can be addressed by things like Whatsapp groups, Zoom meet ups, and getting together in real life! Maybe you don’t have the office watercooler to meet around, but why not go for a lunchtime walk with someone if location allows? You might even be able to work from home at each other’s houses if that works for you? Or look into a co-working spaces.

Tech is a struggle, but there are things you can do. You can check your internet connection before each call, and even consider upgrading your system or hardwiring yourself in if that saves you hassle and stress! If other people are in the house too, be clear on when you really need to have the internet working well to prevent anyone else streaming at those key moments! As for others, you could always start meetings with a brief overview of how the session is going to work and ways to make everyone’s experience better.

Blurred lines. One of the best ways I have dealt with this is through having an office in the garden. I do take my computer in at night but I rarely use it. If my office was set up in the corner of the lounge, I am sure I would be doing a lot more work in the evenings. Try and shut your work away- use a spare room, or even make your desk so it can be shut up so you can’t see the work across it. This will take some discipline, but the more you do it the easier it’ll get.

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?

I find exercise is actually really important. Going for a good walk in the morning sets me up well for the day. Whether I’m walking with someone or just out listening to a podcast, the fresh air, the movement and everything else associated with walking does me a lot of good- particularly when the temptation is there to just walk a few feet and start work! It’s important to regularly move around too. It’s easy to get stuck into something and realise you haven’t moved- or had a drink- for a considerable about of time. And that’s really not good for you!

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?

People work different ways and it’s important teams are aware of this. Some people will be itching to get back into the office and feel like they’ve had a limb removed, whereas other people will be loving working from home and how quiet it is and how productive they can be. Not everyone is the same or has the same feelings.

Use of technology is good- Zoom catch ups, WhatsApp groups, for example, but be aware of their overuse. It’s great to have these options, but few people need to team meeting every day to cover what was covered in yesterday’s meeting!

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?

Respecting people’s views on how they’re coping, having regular meet ups, and ensuring that those lines of communication are open. Even in remote locations, communication is key, and there is no shortage of ways to speak to your team.

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. :-)

Be nice. Don’t just use the hashtag on your social media quotes, actually try and be nice to people. Share a kind word. Tell someone their hair looks great. Don’t argue the point just because. If covid and a global pandemic have taught us anything, it is that life really is too short.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Progress not perfection. When we strive for perfection, we’re limiting ourselves as it’s subjective, isn’t it? It’s much better to put out something good knowing you can adjust if needed than keeping something that you feel is not quite perfect hidden from the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I’m on Instagram @rheafreemanpr (https://www.instagram.com/rheafreemanpr), Twitter @rheafreeman (https://www.twitter.com/rheafreeman), Facebook /RheaFreemanPR (https://www.facebook.com/rheafreemanpr), and my website is www.rheafreemanpr.co.uk

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
David Liu

David Liu

134 Followers

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication