I’m Not Remotely Interested
Today’s guest blog is brought to us by the wonderful Joy Redmond, a passionate advocate and practitioner of SmartWorking!
I’m not remotely interested in being tied to a building, a company or a function. For as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred to have my fingers in a few pies. In school, I worked part-time making sausages in our butcher shop, serviced my regular window cleaning customers, cleaned offices and taught swimming lessons (voluntary). In college, I worked in bars and catering and then to supplement a modest Masters’ scholarship, I lectured part-time, did freelance market research and also worked behind the bar in a comedy club. It was never about the money! It was always about multi-jobbing and how it allowed me to move around and gain experience. In the autism community, we call these shifts sensory breaks, but I think it’s more a corporate strain of ADHD and it’s a way of life I’ve managed to maintain for a good proportion of my career.
How do we define Smart Working?
Often smart working is defined in terms of the location of the work i.e. using technology to work from home, remote, hub or some hybrid of the above. For me, smart work is not just the location, but extends to the actual role and associated agility, the flexibility regarding the hours and also the diversity of projects but I’ll discuss each one.
Location, Location, Location
We know the case for remote working – higher productivity, lower carbon footprint and the removal of the stressful daily commute to mention just a few but the concept of ‘TRUST’ is the most common inhibitor – will they be watching TV, double-jobbing, entertaining friends or skiving off to the beach? The bigger question is – why do you pay your staff? Do you pay them to occupy a desk in an office or do you pay them for their deliverables? Showing up and sitting there, with the exception of being an exam invigilator, is not the only requirement of a post. I can’t imagine I would get paid if I didn’t deliver – how could I justify my existence if I have no white papers, no case studies, no speeches, no PR pitches/statements to show for my time spent ‘on the job’? To be honest, some days I’m just not productive, not in the zone. So I ping the client and say that I’m off and not billing and will make up the hours. How many of your colleagues on site in full-time jobs have that level of honesty?
In every single job I’ve ever had, I’ve ended up doing something completely different to what I was originally hired to do. I come in under some loose ‘marketing’ title, but we all know marketing is about delivering profit, so that ‘marketing’ project might end up being internal communication, customer service analysis, product development, user research, desk research, PR/spin and generally what I think needs doing in order for marketing to work. At the moment, I’m working on an internal marketing project with a client where we’re workshopping and doing discourse and content analysis with the end goal of improving the perception of a particular department within the company. So, I’m flexible about the role or rather the interpretation of the role.
Flexibility is a two-way street. Discussions about work flexibility are often from the workers’ perspective – if they need to leave work early, if they need to work from home on x day etc. I know it’s hard to find good people, so companies are flexible to retain staff but like any union, one must be willing to compromise.
Sometimes, if it’s a case of all hands on deck, I will work full-time 9-5 for a client for a given period and move around other clients and projects because my availability is of no value two weeks after the deadline. I haven’t always worked like this. I, like most of you, have moved from one full time job to the next because the dog amount of work needed to get from zero awareness to national or global brand necessitated working full time. Then, life got in the way – my son was nonverbal and needed a suite of interventions – weekly speech and occupational therapy appointments and the home programme in between. So, I had to pull back and rethink and it paid off, I’ve an exceedingly verbal teenager now who is more than capable of telling me that the dinner is “a bit bland!”
I love the diversity of my working week. As head of research in Sonru, I get stuck into data analysis and qualitative research to build the body of evidence that makes the case for their disruptive technology; I’m in art college one day per week – doing a course on art writing. Then there’s my freelance work and boy can this vary from your standard marketing/ux/content/messaging/research for HPSUs then there’s the one-offs. Recent projects include working with a photographer on his statement about his collection of work for an open call, a survivor of medical misconduct on her conference speech about their journey, some travel writing then a depth interview with a client’s client to help them write up a conference paper about how the client’s technology is transforming their business processes. I have also just launched Trustwordie, a range of wordy greeting cards which is my side hustle which is all the rage
Me Time isn’t only for Me
I did an online degree in UX Design and Technology last year and I shared my learnings within my client’s team so much so that they overtook me and are now producing all their own graphics. The art writing course I’m doing now will help with my messaging and written communications. When I worked full-time with small children, downtime was spent doing household stuff or leisure, the idea of further learning was laughable. Now, with a bit more distance and being off the treadmill, I can see that what I do in my free time can help my work.
As a parent, I’ve done it all – full time at work, full time at home, remote work, part-time work, unemployed, underemployed, deployed and there is no magic formula or answer – it’s a bit like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the answer is 42 but what is the question? You have to find the groove that fits you. I definitely work at least 40 hours per week but I can guarantee those hours are not shoehorned between 9-5 on week days. In fact, I could well be at the beach while you’re reading this and that to me is quite beautiful. I’ll end with my own version of Seneca’s famous quote: “The important thing isn’t how long you work, but how well you work,” and recommend you check
out Seneca’s contemporary – Tim Ferriss and read more about his 4-Hour Workweek.
Guest Blogger Bio:
Joy Redmond is a freelance B2B UXy Marketer, content purist, sporadic spin doctor, design thinker, Qual/Quants geek @sonru, autism advocate, open water swimmer and Art Writing student at Gorey School of Art.
Joy has just launched trustwordie – the thinking person’s greeting card which she hopes will be more than a greeting card but the opening move in a long and lovely conversation. Despite two decades marketing tech, she really loves retro communication i.e. actually meeting and writing to people.