360-degree Review of my Remote Working Experience

A 360-degree review of what it’s like to work remotely, including the pros and cons of remote working, with some tips to help you succeed.

Company Culture
Employee Experience
Work Environment

Leen Sawalha

VP Product & Growth

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Annnnnd that’s a wrap!

It is now day 28 of my 4-week remote working experience, and I’m on my way home to beautiful (albeit rainy) Montreal.

Am I sad to leave Portugal? Absolutely. But I must admit that the Traditional side of my personality is looking forward to the structure and routine of being home.

Now that this whole experience has come to an end, it is the perfect time to look back at my remote month and try to sum up the whole experience.

As I was outlining this article, I realized that I’ve been speaking about the experience from my own perspective over the past month throughout my articles. So, I thought this article could add more value and insight if it included a 360-degree review of my remote month.

Therefore,I gathered the points of view of all people who were directly affected by me going abroad to help me write this article. Allow me to introduce the key stakeholders who provided their input and formed my 360-degree panel:

Me (Leen): Remote worker and marketing lead

Fred: Member of the marketing team and my right-hand guy

Stephan: My boss and the CTO

Charles: Member of the sales and happiness team

That’s a pretty complete panel, wouldn’t you agree? Here’s what we all had to say about the remote working experience:

The Pros of Remote Working

We, the marketing team here at Atman, are known for being a highly spontaneous bunch, which comes in handy since we constantly need to juggle multiple projects and demands from different departments. But having Leen working remotely really pushed us to up our organizational skills. And we did!

– Fred, Marketing Team.

It was really cool to see that not much needs to change when someone works remotely! Leen was always available despite the time-zone differences, and we had all the tools we needed to stay connected and to collaborate effectively.

– Charles, Sales Team.

Everything ran just as smoothly as it does when Leen is around, which debunks the many myths of slipping productivity associated with remote working. I found it all to be quite positive overall; the experience was good for the company’s brand and image, it aligned well with our mission to have happy employees, and the marketing department survived!

– Stephan, CTO.

From my perspective, I found the experience to be awesome for me both personally and professionally. It was a challenge for me to get out of my comfort zone, and my organization and communication skills were seriously put to the test! Overall, I found the experience helped me grow as a person, a marketer, and a manager.

– Leen (me), the remote worker.

Managing and being managed can be quite difficult when you work remotely. But do you really need to be a superhero to pull it off?

Looks all good, doesn’t it? But don’t judge before you hear the other side of the story: 

The Cons of Remote Working

I didn’t find there to be any negative consequences of Leen working remotely in terms of our productivity and collaboration in the marketing team. We quickly found our rhythm and identified the best ways for us to communicate and work together from afar. That being said, I did feel that the dynamic within the team and department was a little off. We are all very close at Atman, so Leen’s absence was certainly felt.

– Fred, Marketing Team.

The one thing I found most challenging was the communication with departments with whom we don’t usually collaborate with. The Sales and Marketing departments worked well together since we’re used to it and we share the same tools. But when it came to working with other departments, it was a little more challenging because we needed to figure it out as we went along.

– Charles, Sales Team.

Being out of sight certainly helps with being out of mind! Being a spontaneous pair, I am used to communicating with Leen on-the-go, which we couldn’t do while she was away. Communication is crucial when you have remote workers, so if you’re more spontaneous, it’s important to have your calls and follow-ups scheduled.

– Stephan, CTO.

I really found the most difficult thing for me was feeling out of the loop on some occasions. I still believe we did an amazing job communicating with one another, but (as I have come to learn) certain things just tend to fall through the cracks and don’t get transmitted through communication tools. Sometimes, you just need to be there.

– Leen (me), the remote worker.

The funny thing about these cons is that you’ll find them all listed under “myths about remote working” blogs that are all over the internet!

BUT! Before you pass judgement, it is important to remember that situations differ from one another. Having flexible work arrangements are different from working at home, from working for an extended period of time from another country, and from being a 100% remote company. Each have their own reality and have their own setups.

So, while this article does not reflect all the pros and cons of remote working, it could be an excellent resource for a company that is looking to introduce a remote working program/perk to its employees.

If you fall in that category, then I have a few useful tips for you. 

3 tips to implementing a successful remote working program


1. Have a communication plan

At least for the basics stuff, like weekly meetings and follow ups, times in which people are available, preferred methods of communication, etc.

It would also be helpful to set up plans for what to do and how to communicate should unexpected situations arise, especially with other departments and those with whom you don’t often collaborate.

2. Collaboration tools are a must

At AtmanCo, Trello, Slack (both calls and chat), and Google Drive were heavily used and proved to be highly effective. Be sure to also check out my previous article about being productive while working remotely for more tips.

3. Understand people’s personalities

Understanding people work methods, communication styles, management and leadership styles, resistance to stress, and motivation can make all the difference. 

And that’s all she wrote ?

A big thank you to all who have followed me along this amazing adventure! I hope that my last few articles have helped shed some light on the reality of remote working, and will help others make the most out of being remote workers.

Giving your employees the freedom and opportunity to work remotely from anywhere in the world will benefit your company, and I hope that my tips will help you better prepare for a successful adventure.

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