Home > Remote Workers Q&A > Christine Bielak

Christine Bielak Works Remotely

Christine Bielak Team Photo
5
Years Remote
Home
Preferred Workspace
Massachusetts, USA
Home Base

Programmer

Fulltime Remote Worker
Employee
*All figures approximate as of October 2016
Christine Bielak
Interview with Remote.co

I have an odd/distinct skill set; companies couldn’t find people anywhere near them when they needed someone like me. Knew a project manager from a prior position and when she heard I had changed positions (she was [a] vendor with my old company), she immediately called me to see if I was interested in remote work.

The adjustment can be surprisingly difficult. You must never lose sight that you have a “real job”—family and friends tend not to think of telecommuting as real work.

More time to spend with family — able to deal with family issues without taking a whole day off — reduction in travel costs (HUGE!) — rarely use a sick day as you get to take breaks as needed — reduction in wardrobe costs (threw out my suits!)  — used to drive out of state (100+ miles a day), now my car rarely racks up 10 miles per week (so much for having to get a new car anytime soon)

Yes, generally. I like to work 9-5 but, as my department is primarily remote and covers 5 time zones, I often start earlier and stay later.

I have a dedicated room that is my office; no bringing the laptop outside. I take frequent short breaks to get the “wanderlust” out of my system. Coffee machine and the laundry always whisper “come hither” and it’s best, for me, to quickly attend to something during a 5-minute break than to try to totally ignore it.

  • L-shaped desk
  • Comfortable, yet supportive chair

Things like paper and toner should be purchased by the case when possible. I use generic toner cartridges from Amazon.com that cost under $2 each for my HP printer. It’s only for me and saves a ton of money as I tend to like to print documents to mark up.

Building relationships is really, really hard. Being remote there’s no grabbing a coffee or lunch together. I try to be as friendly as I can without being a distracting pest. I need to bond with my team but have to find good ways to do it. At one remote position, we were encouraged to use an instant messenger program to ask each other questions…that turns into a word or two of support, which turns into small conversations, which turns into relationships.

After a tough adjustment, I would only return to a traditional setting if I owned the business. Being remote has made me a better parent, caregiver to my elder parent, better spouse, and better employee. I work harder as I appreciate my job. I’m able to have so much more time for “me stuff” as I don’t have to spend time commuting. I have a better life as a remote.

I volunteer to help with any project within my overall department. It makes the day more interesting and I make some awesome contacts.

I’m more relaxed and feel less like I’m not doing all the things at home or with family that I should be doing because I’m miles away at an office. I used to feel completely guilty when severe weather hit my home area while I was off working in another state; I needed to be home when trouble was heading there. I am now!

Being remote has made me a better parent, caregiver to my elder parent, and better spouse. I’m able to have so much more time for “me stuff” as I don’t have to spend time commuting. I have a better life as a remote.

This is the hardest part. I have a treadmill I use daily and I take my dogs for a walk during my lunch break.

This is, by far, the biggest downside to being a remote. Office friends are nice. You get to grumble about the boss…the job…share life stories.… As as a remote I only see my co-workers once or twice a year. You’re stuck in your house for 8 hours and it can be surprisingly isolating. I’ve added volunteering at my kids school a few hours a week and became a scouting leader to make up for the lack of contact.