We had a chance to interview Yvonne about her journey into the world of remote work in Ireland. She has been at it for a while and has an interesting story to tell. See what Yvonne recommends to people who want to work remotely!
Please tell me a little about your career. What you do, how long you’ve been doing it, products and services you offer, who are your target clients/target market?
My Name is Yvonne, I live in the Southwest of Ireland and I work remotely as a web developer. I have been a web developer for the last 4 years. My last few full-time, non-remote jobs were working as a PHP developer. For the past year and a half I have been working as a full-time remote freelance developer. My services include designing and building web applications, websites, SEO and eCommerce applications. My target audience is SMEs and startup businesses.
What made you decide to start working remotely?
I never decided to begin working remotely, it kind of just happened that way. When my contract ran out in my last position there was little to no opportunity due to my location and my specific experience, so I decided to take a stab at setting up a little freelance company. In order to keep overheads low, I decided to work remotely and set up a little office (office is a bit of a stretch, it’s more of a corner!) at home.
What are some of the most common challenges you find with people who want to start working remotely?
One of the biggest challenges for people who want to start working remotely in Ireland is the lack of opportunity to work remotely for a local company. Sometimes people need to work remotely for practical reasons such as family commitments or other location-specific responsibilities.
Here in Ireland we are in the middle of a serious housing crisis. As of April this year the number of homeless people in Ireland was 10,300 and it has most likely grown since then. The majority of these people are in cities like Dublin & Cork. The reason for this is the lack of social housing and the relentless rent hikes. However, all the best jobs are based in these cities (more so Dublin than anywhere). Therefore, the cost (time & money) of moving can be a bit unrealistic.
The main challenges for people looking for remote work are knowing where to look for the best remote jobs in your industry. I found that speaking with normal recruitment agencies was pointless due to their lack information about remote work and they are essentially location based so they will only help you find somewhere in your locality or nearest commutable town. If you’re like me and a suitable job doesn’t exist in your area, then you need to start looking at sites that only advertise remote positions like Expat Jobs. Look for sites that not only have job boards, but also a lot of information, advice, blogposts and remote stories.
What are some of the best pieces of advice you have for people who want to work remotely?
Advice I would give to anyone that is starting out as a remote worker is to become very disciplined in time management. This is very important. You are losing some of the daily structure that you are used to like your morning commute, tea breaks and lunch with colleagues. You really need to make your own new routine that works best for your productivity. Become a planner…start planning ahead all the time. I like to start my week by writing down all my commitments, meetings, calls, emails that I need to respond to and personal stuff, too, because you need to learn how separate your work time and your “you” time.
Be social, join communities or groups for whatever hobbies you are interested in, because you will no longer have work as a social outlet. I joined a friendly gym so it keeps me fit, gets me out of the house for at least an hour a day and I even made new friends there. Join your local Grow Remote community. You can follow Grow Remote on twitter and go to their website for all sorts of information. They are very helpful and friendly.
Learn to switch off from work at a certain time each day so that all your time won’t be allocated to work. It’s so easy to keep working, but your brain needs to switch off and relax so you can be more productive when you need to be and you will be less likely to burn out.
Set up a nice workspace, make sure there’s plenty of natural light, keep it tidy and comfortable, maybe get a few plants for your workspace. When you can, work outside of your home, schedule meetings in cafes, restaurants or just head to your favourite coffee house for a few hours (don’t be rude and buy something and obviously ask permission and don’t overstay your welcome) and communicate with colleagues as much as possible.
Try to minimise distractions. My biggest issue when I started working remotely was people thinking that I was free to hang out all of the time. Boundaries need to be set with family and friends–just because your office is at home doesn’t mean you are always available.
Obviously the most important advice would be to eat properly, drink plenty of water and get fresh air, move as much as possible and try get an adequate amount of sleep.
What is on your agenda for the next few years in your career? Are there any big changes you plan to make?
At the moment I work as a freelance developer, I am hoping to get a position for a full-time remote PHP developer. I am hoping to secure a position with an Irish company, but I am also looking at some positions around the rest of Europe too (being conscious of time zones and holidays).
I would like to work on large scale projects and work as part of a team again. I am documenting my remote work journey on my twitter account called Remote Werking Gal so have a look there for updates and stories. I am hoping to start a new site for blogging and sharing information so keep an eye on my twitter account for updates on that. My main goal is the play a part in the seismic change in the future of the Irish work culture and help other’s behind me in their journeys too.