Mixing Babies And Babies: Discussing Remote Work With Digital Business Women
I was featured in the April 2020 Edition of (Issue No 13) of the Digital Business Women online magazine, now known as Female Tech Leaders.
It’s a unique publication based in the United Kingdom but features articles from women around the world, with this edition sourced, edited and published during a global pandemic and covering:
- 10 Top Tips For Working Remotely
- Three Ways AI and Smart Tech Can Help Us Work More Efficiently at Home
- 10 Top Tips For Effective Online Meetings
- 10 Top Tips for Managing Remote Teams
- Technology And Data Are The New Weapons In The War On COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
- How Small Businesses Can Boost Sales
- Addressing Racial And Economic Inequity
- A Leader’s Guide To Supporting Both Introverts And Extroverts Through The Hidden Dangers Of Self Isolation And Social Distancing
- The Gig Economy Is On The Rise – Is It For You?
- BASICS – My Top Advice To Help People Grow
- Martech – A Buzz Word Or An Essential Part Of Every Modern Company?
- Mum Of 4 Turned Crypto Broker Extraordinaire
- Family and Career – Priorities That Are Not XOR (Exclusive OR)
- What People Say About You When You’re Not In The Room
- You Belong In Tech Shaping Diversity And Inclusion At Codegram
Female Tech Leaders’ Vision is to create the most collaborative and encouraging platform to accelerate the change of the role of women in business and in modern society.
You can find my interview in the section of one-on-one interviews about ‘Remote Work’ on Pages 71-72, where I discuss how I am Mixing Babies and Business. I have also included my interview responses below for your reference.
Working remotely since 2014: Before and after kids
I started remote working when I relocated to Europe and continued to do project work with the Australian company I had been working for in Brisbane. When we had our first son in England in 2016, I knew there was no going back to a ‘corporate 9 to 5’ for me.
Since the pandemic, I’ve been working from home for myself, while looking after our two children full-time. It’s a different kind of situation to our usual routine but my expatriate, remote work and parenthood experiences over the past decade have all prepared me for the feelings of isolation, disconnection and instability we are currently experiencing as a family.
I understand everyone’s reality will look and feel differently to mine but in addition to the remote work webinar I presented for Women In Leadership Foundation Ottawa last week and the interview for Female Tech Leaders, I will continue to share my stories, resources and tools on this blog and via my newsletters and social media channels, in the hopes of helping others navigate the flexible work changes they may be currently undergoing.
Interview With Female Tech Leaders Magazine About Remote Work: Amy Maureen Lynch
How do you structure your day working from home?
I work for myself and I structure my days to manage my own expectations, using time blocking and saving a lot of my time intensive creative writing for the weekends, batching things as best as I can. I look after two kids under the age of four, so the majority of my time is spent with them between the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
When they’re with me, I try to complete tasks which take under 15 minutes and can be done from my phone in the morning hours, usually limiting it to under three things. I save the ‘deep work’ for nap time in the afternoon. But lately, my oldest has dropped his nap and it can be unpredictable, so if there is no quiet solo afternoon window of time for me to use, I write out plans, ideas and focus on handwritten tasks while he is awake beside me and I set him up with ‘quiet time’ activity.
I find children are less interested in what you’re up to when there’s no laptop involved! I may also log on in the early morning or evenings, if time permits but I largely try to keep the weekday tasks to ‘quick wins’ which can be done in 15-30 minute chunks.
How do you manage kids/laundry/cooking/etc and your workload?
[Disclaimer: I assumed this question would be asked of everyone but it appears to only have been asked of me. My husband and I both share ‘domestic’ responsibilities in our household and in future, I hope this kind of question will become irrelevant and obsolete.]
I answered some of that already but the batching applies to house things as well. Grocery shops are planned in advance and done in the evening when one of us is doing bedtime. The meals for lunch and dinner are written out for two weeks to avoid waste and conserve decision making power.
Laundry goes on first thing in the morning and often doesn’t get touched until nap time or bedtime, when it is added into baskets and not sorted until there are at least three to four of them ready to be folded and put away.
Kitchen cleaning gets done while prepping meals and oftentimes the crockery piles up every few days and is washed in batches too, with the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded at the same time. Cleaning happens in stages and general tidying up is done at the end of the day as I believe there’s no point in putting the toys away constantly, they only get dumped out straight again.
I lower my expectations, keep things simple and ignore the piles of things until they’re ready to be tackled. No guilt here and the kids never notice when their laundry is ready or how it is taken care of.
What about online distractions such as Facebook/online chats with family/kids?
I don’t have social media apps on my phone so I don’t receive notifications or requests to chat. I actually need to be logged onto my laptop or desktop computer to FaceTime as I don’t have an iPhone, so again family and friends need to organize a chat in advance.
I sometimes put my phone on airplane mode during my work tasks but find leaving it on silent in another room works well for me too. I also have been known to not answer calls during certain times until people get the hint that just because I’m ‘working from home’ and on a ‘flexible schedule’, doesn’t mean my workday is open to interruptions when it suits other people’s schedules.
I have worked remotely and on contracts while living overseas for the better part of the past decade, so I’ve been without regular contact with loved ones due to time zone differences and the fact we have an international family. I think our family, friends and network are used to emailing or messaging us now to keep in touch and planning video chats in advance.
What would be your best three pieces of advice to engage with your team and manage?
Tips for managers to engage with their team:
- Manage expectations and clearly articulate them alongside goals and timelines
- Keep communication channels open, whether it’s using a messaging app, project management software, regular video meetings, the medium doesn’t matter but the consistency and frequency is what builds trust and relationships over time
- Think of ways to make them feel engaged and included, just because they’re working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t work on your company culture and team building activities
What are the five best tools that help you to keep your productivity?
- Evernote for keeping track of ideas, notes, drafts, work in progress
- Dropbox for file management
- G-Suite/Google’s from email to Drive, Photos, Sheets, Docs…and my first blog was started using Blogger
- My phone for taking photos, drafting content, calls, blogging on the go
- Canva for my graphic design, I used to use Adobe Creative Cloud but I’ve kept it simpler lately and lower cost
What are your best three suggestions for self-care while working remotely?
- Get dressed in the morning, even if you’re not going on video calls or planning to see anyone
- Prepare and eat nourishing meals, drink plenty of fluids and take your vitamins
- Get outside for fresh air and sunshine if you can, nature is a great way to reset
I have created a few additional digital resources to help you navigate the future of flexible work:
- FREE Work From Home (WFH) Time Blocking Made Easy Template to help you structure your days and avoid overwhelm, using a customizable Google Sheet;
- FREE Babies + Business Mini Guide To Navigating The Corporate Jungle (With Kids) written from the perspective of a parent (me) who has brought her young children into dozens of business settings from the age of four weeks old onward, in two different countries;
- FREE Startup Blogging: Validate A Business Idea and Build Your Audience resources and templates to help you work through the exercises and action items mentioned in the book; and
- (in progress) Startup Blogging: Validate A Business Idea + Build Your Audience, an online course to help you get your ideas out of your head and into the world, based on an original three-hour workshop I delivered in 2019.