Teleworker Spotlight
Sunday, December 08, 2013
   
Text Size

Teleworker Spotlight

RokStories

In this featured interview we’ll show you the everyday lives of teleworkers, and what it looks like to get real work done from outside of the traditional office. Find out what makes this telework program tick.

 

By Josh Burkhead | @Telework_Adv

 

Teleworker Spotlight is back with another in-depth look at the life of a teleworker! We feature Nikita Devereaux, a seasoned mobile work veteran within a virtual assistant firm. She speaks about her daily routine, reserving time for family, and the tools that make all of this possible. To connect with and learn from mobile workers like Nikita join us on Facebook and LinkedIn!

Nikita Devereaux | @nikitadevereaux

Virtual Productivity Speaker + Trainer

Time spent as a mobile worker: 15 Years!

What industry do you work within?

I have owned and managed Simply Virtual, one of the industry’s leading and most respected U.S. based virtual assistant firms for the past 15 years.  However, I transitioned in to world of training + development about five years ago with the launch of It’s a Smart Decision!™

How many days during the week do you telework, and how long have you followed this schedule?

Ideally, I would work from my home office five days a week, but I’m on the road and in client’s offices a lot.  I consider the time I spend in a client’s office telework as well.  Like a gypsy, I really have no permanent workplace.

Have there been any concerns expressed by management about a formal telework program? If so, what were they?

Interestingly, one of the clients I work with expressed a desire to *SEE* me in the office more often.  It’s taken some effort to convince them that I’m more effective without the 30-minute commute and constant interruptions I experience on the days I visit their office.

How do you define the word "work"?

Ha!  Technically, I’m always working.  However, I separate the work I must execute from the more laid back, enjoyable type.  I segment my day by getting highly cognitive tasks out of the way in the morning when my brain is fresh, attending meetings and making phone calls toward the middle of the day before breaking for family time (to cook dinner, walk the dog, go for a run, etc.) around 3:00 pm.

I pick up the PC again – in a more relaxed mode – in the evening.  After dinner is my best time to do something creative like write a blog article or update my website because it doesn’t feel like work.

What are some of the work-related benefits of mobile work to you?

Flexibility.  I can arrange my workday so I give my best when I have it to give, rather than being forced to work 8-10 solid hours during some specified period.  It’s been a win for my family because I’m available to them when they arrive home from school or work.

Do you feel more empowered to take ownership of your role?  If so, how?

I do.  Being an entrepreneur is empowering in of itself, but as a work at home professional, I’ve learned how to take charge of my workday.  I know very little is accomplished if I don’t manage my time well and exercise discipline.  That mindset positions me to consistently exercise valuable (and marketable) leadership skills some people never have opportunity to develop.

How is your success measured by your organization?

Simply Virtual clients are billed on a time basis, so we track the work effort (time) we invest in each project.  We use an online time tracking + timesheet tool called Get My Time.  However, those same clients want their tasks and projects delivered on time and in budget (results), so we also track the progress of projects and share updates as we go along.  We send weekly activity reports to help our clients keep tabs on project progress.  Finally, because we are a virtual organization, success is also defined by what I call the “warm and fuzzy”.  Clients cannot see or hear that we are working on their open projects unless we make ourselves “visible” throughout the day.  Staying visible includes strategically leveraging tools like Skype to put our face in front of our clients.

What were the greatest challenges in adapting to a telework program as a teleworker?

When I started working remotely back in 1997, there were no tools like LogMeIn or GoToMeeting to aid in collaboration.  Even now with chat programs and video conferencing, teleworkers have to deliberately plan connection points throughout our workdays so we don’t experience the sense of isolation common to the remote workplace.  It’s easy to let 2-3 days go by where you don’t leave your home at all.  I combat that by planning mid-day walks with Scotty, my Schnauzer-Terrier or mid-week meetings with a client or colleague.

The other challenge I ran into in managing a virtual work team, was convincing team members to actually take time off when they need to be with family.  Many people believe teleworking gives them permission to take calls while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting on the beach during a family vacation.  We want our team members to be focused on work and giving our clients 100% when they are available and doing the same for their family when they should be focused there.

What tools or technology allows you to complete your work remotely?

The tools I use must be practical and preferably, handle multiple functions – so there are less of them!  I leverage technology tools that help me be portable:  An ultrabook versus a desktop, a smart phone coupled with Microsoft Exchange so I have quick and easy access to my calendar and contacts.  Simply Virtual uses a cloud based file sharing program, Dropbox to share files amongst our team members and can access financial data via Quickbooks online.  When I travel to speak or train a group, I bring my portable LCD projector – weighs only 4 pounds!

Outside of "work" has the option of telework provided you with any other benefits in your life?  If so, what are they?

Working remotely saves me a ton of money!  My car is garaged at least 3 days every single week.  I visit the mechanic much less and certainly don’t spend the amount of gas I know most people do.

It also creates the extra space I need in my workday to exercise and think through my food choices.  I can cook my meals rather than buying them.  And, I find when I commute to work, I’m unable to get a run or a bike ride in.  If I do that for too long, I gain weight!

 

Thank you Nikita for your time! Connect with Nikita Devereaux on Twitter @nikitadevereaux, and connect with Telework Advocacy on Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

Archived Teleworker Spotlights:

January 2013