As part of my LinkedIn Newsletter series about the Rise of Remote Work, I had the pleasure of interviewing Josephine Tse, Storyteller at Voice123 (previously Remoter Ambassador at Torre).
About Josephine Tse
Josephine is a multimedia content producer from Toronto, CA with a love for traveling, hip-hop & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She’s currently 100% remote and will try her best to stay that way. Josephine is currently a storyteller at Voice123, the first online voiceover marketplace.
Thank you so much for your time! Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got into remote work?
About a year ago, I was getting tired of commuting 3 hours a day, working a ‘9 to 5’ (except it was never really ‘5’) but was always stumped as to how to approach it, because I work in the media industry and you do have to be present for a lot of the work (whether it be shoots, client sessions, etc.). However, I started researching into working holiday visas, and where I could take my next steps and I stumbled upon Torre – and I found this job posting. “It couldn’t be real,” I thought. But I went through the motions and lo and behold, here I am now. That’s why I think it’s quite a random story because I wasn’t gunning for remote positions- hell, this was the only job I actually applied to during my times of research because it was still so early on!
If you aren’t careful, you can actually work way more than you do at a traditional 9 to 5.
Could you share the biggest lessons or 'key takeaways' that you have learned along the way?
My biggest takeaway is that if you aren’t careful, you can actually (and by you, I mean “I”) work way more than you do at a traditional 9 to 5. The good thing about those ways of working is that it sort of structures you – you leave a location where your brain associates with ‘work’ and that tell you to shut off, that you are done for the day. However, if you, for instance, work from home. Or a co-working space. It’s easy to just keep working straight, forgetting to take breaks, talk to other people, etc.
How is that a benefit? Well, for me, it’s opened my eyes to a few things.
- How productive (or unproductive, if you want to say) we as humans actually are when associating work with a place, when work should be what you do, what your skills offer, etc.
- How self-discipline is one of the most important skills to master. People have different ways of fine-tuning and honing self-discipline. Maybe it’s meditation, maybe it’s time blocking on a calendar, maybe it’s having a completely separate home office set-up for your work to create that divide. Whatever it may be, remote work expedites awareness around the need for self-discipline.
Remote work is the foundation of our organization. […] it’s the way we operate, it’s ingrained in our culture.
Please tell us a bit more about your work as a Remoter Ambassador.
My role at Torre as the Remoter Ambassador (I currently work for Voice123) was to kickstart an online initiative that teaches people about remote work through free resources and human-centric storytelling. That’s the genesis of Remoter. I think it’s best described in this post that was so well received in the Remote Workers on LI group! Right now, the fruits of our labor are rolling out under Remoter Stories.
Remote work is the foundation of our organization. Torre has been remote-first since day one, with our team working in different timezones around the world. So I’d say it’s 100% encouraged- it’s the way we operate, it’s ingrained in our culture!
Alignment calls or messages play an important role in fixing the gaps in communications. I didn’t, but I should’ve spoken up more frequently.
Could you share a few of the biggest remote work challenges you or your team have experienced, and, what have you done to address those challenges?
A big one from our pre-production days – how do you brainstorm remotely? Yes, tools like MURAL and Miro exist, but what if it still doesn’t really work for you? My creative team and I happened to go ‘old-school’, if you may. I documented our process on Medium.
There have been times when I was on my productions and disconnected from Slack, that I felt like I was quite disconnected from my team because I couldn’t attend the daily stand-ups, felt like I was falling behind trying to read all the messages and catch up, etc. In situations as such, alignment calls or messages play an important role in fixing the gaps in communications. I didn’t, but I should’ve spoken up more frequently and asked for clarifications where possible.
Do you have any tips to make sure remote employees are both happy AND productive while working remotely?
Referring to some sections in our Remoter Podcast, like this episode with Tanja Weidinger and Wolfgang Damm of Fretello, or this episode with Matteo Grassi, trust is a big factor. If managers or leaders prefer presence culture, equating seeing people at the office as ‘work is getting done’, then working remotely will destroy these types of people.
Other reasons for hesitation (as discussed within Remoter Stories by our experts) include:
- they do not have the right processes in place
- they think that having access to digital tools is the only step to take
- no mindset shift
- not thinking past the work and about the people
All easier said than done, but these are some of the reasons I keep hearing over and over again.
Remote work was on the rise, but I truly believe it’s here now. The pandemic expedited the inevitable change.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might change the way we work?
It’s almost ironic: Our original purpose of teaching people about remote work has become even more important considering 2020 world events. We want organizations to understand that this is an emergency state of remote work- it’s not normally like this. As we continue to read about tech giants making the switch to remote, we hope these stories will also show you how and why you should consider embracing remote work, building, and scaling your teams in such fashion even after this pandemic. [Remoter Stories]
With every passing day, announcements of huge tech giants, large companies around the world… people are truly considering staying remote because why not? Finally forced into the situation, the higher-ups got a taste of what remote work offers and it can be difficult to switch back afterward. All the time saved not commuting?
Remote work was on the rise, but I truly believe it’s here now. The pandemic expedited the inevitable change. It’s up to the experts to share their stories and experiences. It is up to those who know what they’re doing to make sure remote work can be implemented properly.
What, do you think, are some of the most common reasons companies hesitate to allow remote work?
Shauna Moran of Operate Remote says it perfectly in our story here.
“Remote work is not an end goal. You’re still going to have to work hard, you’re still going to have to meet objectives. If anything, you need to develop other skills. I always think that in remote environments, underlying problems or challenges surface more because nothing can really go unnoticed. If you are not a great leader, that’s going to be noticed. If you are not a great communicator, that’s going to be noticed, which is a good thing at the same time.”
When I heard her answer during our podcast conversation, that was one thing that I took to heart and will carry as my number 1 tip for people.
Thank you so much for sharing these valuable insights! How can we further follow your work?
About Mandy Fransz
Mandy Fransz is the owner & founder of Make the Leap Digital, a boutique consulting firm helping businesses digitally transform the way they work. She manages the fast-growing Remote Workers on LinkedIn group (+50K members) and she has been featured in Thrive Global, VIVA400, & LINDA amongst others. Follow her on LinkedIn (Mandy Fransz) and Instagram (@maketheleap_).