One woman’s quest for a healthy work / life balance and how it could impact you

Everybody in the working world is constantly walking a tight-rope, teetering between leaning too far into their personal life and getting entirely sucked in to your work. Nobody wants to neglect the people and things that they love, but we are also desperate not to sacrifice professional efficiency and performance – in part to even be able to support the people and things we love.

People have different ways of ensuring they are striking this balance in the best way possible. Some carve out particular days on which they shut down all work communication, others have rules about how many extra hours they’ll spend in the office each week, or have morning rituals with their friends or family before dedicating their day to work.

But one woman decided these little organisational tricks were not enough. Vanessa Tierney, from Ireland, decided to found her own virtual global agency. This initiative came not only from her entrepeurnorial spirit, but form her own personal experiences which showed her how technological developments were making remote working increasingly convenient and that the way people were functioning in the professional world really is changing.

Vanessa was recovering from an illness and so began to search for any professional opportunities which she could pursue without hindering her recovery. She would need time and flexibility to be able to really get better, and wasn’t willing to sacrifice her health to advance professionally. Thanks to conference calling, video chats, cloud computing, and social media, Vanessa found a way to get back into the working world.

Talking to former clients about any gaps they had been noticing in the recruitment market, she heard a lot about their desire for a truly global agency which had members ready for action around the world. Vanessa took this feedback on board, and decided to narrow her focus by honing in on the IT sector.

Soon after, Vanessa fell pregnant, an exciting development in her personal life which only enhanced her determination to clear a path to professional success which allowed flexibility and a healthy division of time. Thus Vanty International was born.

Since then, Vanessa has progressed the plight of remote workers further still. This month, she has launched a global jobs platform aimed at anybody who is looking for remote work. The platform, named Abodoo, allows people to sign up and enter their qualifications and needs to match them up with suitable remote employment opportunities.

Vanessa has said her reason for launching Abadoo was her recognition that more and more fields and employers within them are seeing the value of offering remote work as a permanent staffing option as they realise that remote working really can work.

Of course, making the transition to working from home isn’t always simple. The fact is, it is very different from having a daily commute into a communal working space stocked with all the office supplies and supervision which – since primary school – we are trained to almost need to be able to function productively.

Thankfully, there are a lot of handy tips and guides out there – like this one provided by conference call bridge WHYPAY?.

If, like Vanessa, you are also juggling the varied and constant needs of your offspring, remote working comes with an extra subset of challenges and benefits. To begin with, there are those narrow-minded, judgemental, and almost definitely jealous people who might decide that you have chosen to prioritise being a parent over being an employee (as if that would be so scandalous…) and that you are therefore of lesser importance and value. Ignore these people. And don’t worry, if you are being offered the opportunity to work from home, that means that your superiors are not among this bitter bunch.

One good way to explain your position to these types of people, and more importantly to think about it in your own mind to keep you on track, is to always discuss your choice in terms of professional efficiency. Remote working has countless business-related benefits, which is why so many companies are offering it at all. You have now eliminated the endless hours of commuting which you waste every month, and can instead dedicate these to getting stuff done. Your presence in a particular geographic location around where you live (or choose to work) rather than at an office might also make you more easily reachable to particular clients or partners.

As somebody who has to deal with all of your own personal and professional commitments, plus the commitments of one or more smaller people, organisation is of course vital. Draw up a schedule which takes into account everyone else’s schedule in the house too, so that you can’t be caught off guard, or tot up weekly hours which you’ll actually have to spend stuffing unwilling arms into coats and wiping jam off chins. Likewise, set yourself a specific hour that you WILL start working, even if you haven’t run a comb through your hair yet.

The fact that you can work in a state of disarray of course doesn’t mean you have to. A lot of people find that they actually do work better if they are comfortable, while others are more productive when they’re dressed in smart clothing. Try stuff out and see what works for you.

Of course, your presence around the house (and possibly in pyjamas) can be confusing for your children. You will probably want to sit down and explain the situation to them. They need to understand that just because you are at home doesn’t mean that you’re free to play all the time, or drop off their forgotten football kit every day. But it also gives you an opportunity to remind them of how loved and cared for they are, by explaining the role they played in your decision to change the way you work.

And don’t forget, if it’s half term and the kids are off to the grandparents’, you can always pop into the office even when you don’t need to, to show that you are fully committed. This will help you to maintain those all-important professional relationships, even if it just means sharing a joke about the coffee granules mixed up in the sugar pot or pop out for a panini with a co-worker.

These are all steps which Vanessa Tierney, the master, promotor, and facilitator of remote working has taken. But whether you have children or not, there is no doubt that your ability to work away from the office is becoming increasingly respected and available. So take some time to think about whether it’s right for you, and how you would like to divide your time. There are different ways of doing it, so talk to your bosses, try things out, and see how you are your most efficient professional self.

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