Remote working - am I alone?


(Annette Morris) #1

As technology moves us 'forward' in increasingly interesting ways, it occured to me the other day I might not be the only member of SFN that's had a foot in the Remote Working camp.




But that's just it. Working remotely is remote. You often feel very alone - totally adrift. And not just adrift a short drive down the M5, adrift by 1000Km.




During the past few years I have worked for UK organisations from where I live in France, some may even call me a "Euro Commuter" (I wouldn't dream of using such a glamorous description myself).


On my regular trips to the UK from Béziers (my local airport) I often see the same faces on the Monday and Friday flights to Bristol. I wonder how many other Brits there are on these shuttle planes just like me.




Some weeks ago there was an interesting article on this subject in The Guardian .




I'd be really interested to know if anyone else on SFN has had any experience of remote working in UK/France/Europe - anywhere really.


A friend of mine is a big Health & Safety boffin and hardly has a good word for it.




Certainly from my perspective it's been both a blessing and a curse and extremely challenging at times.



Technology might be incredible, but can remote working really work?





(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #2

We could have been commuting together! We used the Beziers Bristol route when we contracted for AXA in Bristol when the Ryanair line first opened. My hubbie still commutes on & off (does web stuff here too). He’s currently using Montpellier, Paris, Dublin but next week will be doing Toulouse - London. We were mentioned once in the BlahBlahBlah as Eurocommuters!
Its funny, when we used to do Toulouse Gatwick or Marseille Gatwick (until BA messed up the timetables) we saw the same faces - oh and it was a competition on BA of which Silver card holder could grab the ‘2 seats’ behind Club each week. We’d nod with a knowing look at the winners:)
Funny, people think its glamorous but you soon get fed up of it. Then you spend 12m working on your own in front of a lonely pc (well with the comfort of the cat curled up on the desk) and bang back into euro commuting again. It’s like living two completely different lives. I’m slightly out of it now as we’ve just had 2 children but will be a ‘eurocommuting wife’ again soon as we have decided to split out time between London & Herault.
Will be fun doing this with 2 under 2’s in tow!


(Greg Samways) #3

Hi Annette. We moved to France 6 years ago following a health scare, to get away from the stress of work! But after 2 years of renovating in the glorious Limousin wilderness I started to climb the walls through lack of intellectual challenge. Now I am back into Petroleum Geology consultancy, subcontracting to a major UK company, developing and teaching professional courses. I do most of the course development from home, and teach courses anywhere between the UK and Malaysia, usually for a week or so at a time.

It works really well. I can pretty much work when I want, or not at all, when at home. I have a contractual guarentee of a minmum of 100 days work per year (although I typically do more), so I don't have to go looking for work. This way I can get my brain fix on a trip oversees, and give my wife a break! Occassionaly Cara will accompany me and get a couple of weeks winter sun in Malaysia or the like.

I am now getting far more involved in developing e-learning as well, especially for our new venture in the Indian market. All very global tele-working!

But I know that after every trip I can come home to the Verandah in the Limousin, play with my dogs and my hurdy-gurdy and sip Pineau!


(Jane Bell 2) #4

Hi Annette. Please excuse the late reply to this post but it’s due to a combination of workload and extended trip to UK for Xmas/New Year. Only just now getting back to normality, whatever that may be!
I also work remotely from my own office in my role as Virtual Assistant so can totally relate to the positives and negatives involved on a daily basis. It was a huge challenge deciding to work on my own after many years of being employed both in France and the UK and having the ‘comfort zone’ of a guaranteed monthly salary. However, more than a year down the line, I am pleased I made the transition and for me it has been very rewarding both professionally and personally. I believe the fact that I travelled extensively with my previous work was a huge advantage as I gained experience of operating in a ‘non-office based’ environment.
Positives ? Being able to organise your day how and when you choose without the constraints of being at an office by a certain time. Having the freedom and independence to develop client relationships and contacts in my own personal way. Being able to deal with clients worldwide and in different time zones to suit their requirements. Working in a beautiful, rural, peaceful setting - good for the soul!
Negatives? Yes, I agree with your original comment of sometimes feeling isolated when you work alone. Lack of human contact can be difficult at times. Trying to keep up with all the developments in social and media networking. Coping with the French bureaucracy and paperwork involved in running your own business!

For me, sites like this are really important for being able to interact with other like-minded people via the internet and share thoughts and ideas. You learn so much and for us solo entrepreneurs, that is essential as we need to continuously develop our skills and knowledge. I also regularly attend business meetings in Toulouse, my nearest large city, so I get to have contact with real human beings rather than just the computer screen.
I totally agree with you that remote working is very much a chosen path and would not suit everyone. In my humble opinion, you have to have a tremendous amount of self-belief, self-discipline and sheer physical and mental courage to make it work but the rewards are certainly there. Technology will continue to develop whether we agree with it or not and I believe remote working will become more acceptable as time goes on.


(Annette Morris) #5

Thank you both so much for commenting! It’s always SO good to know others are in the same boat.
I’ve been fortunate to work alongside people that value the work I do more than the kind of tea I can make in the office (lucky for me - my tea-making has never been a strong point ;)). I guess there’s always going to be arguments either way on how remote workers can fit into ‘team dynamics’ and how ‘healthy’ it is for the individual to be isolated in such a way.
But I do agree that an acceptance of remote working will increasingly develop in the years to come. And like many relationships - it all comes down to similar values of trust, respect and commitment. We folks might have to go the extra distance to get things done, but it’s a chosen path and we do know why we do it. I think that makes us a lucky few.


(Judy Mansfield) #6

I travel throughout Europe with my work. Booking all the flights, ferry crossings, hotels etc takes out a big chunk of my work time. But it is easier to organise than it would have been a few years back - the internet has made it possible, along with cheap airfares.
In October, I had no weekends at home - every weekend was a trade fair (Brittany, Normandy, Lyon, London and Geneva). It takes me a couple of days to catch up, so sometimes I feel I’m forever rushing to meet deadlines!
Agree with John that remote working and hot-desking is a reality now. What price team spirit?! that is probably why social networking has grown up to take the place of real human contact!