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A Day in the Life of a Remote US Expat Living in Italy – Meet Moni from Shield GEO

At ShieldGEO we offer all of our employees a flexible work policy that means they can structure their work routine in a way that serves them best. 

Most people have other commitments outside of work that would be better managed by flexible start and finish times and we know that not everyone is productive in the same environments. By allowing our team to choose where they work, and during what time frame, we know they are getting more enjoyment out of their workdays because they can fit in more of the things that make them happy while maintaining their workload. 

Each month we profile one of our employees to showcase how they have chosen to set up their work routine. We love knowing that offering flexibility allows our team to create something that works well for them. 

This month we spoke with Monisola Adefolalu, one of the implementation team members.  

Meet Moni 

Moni and her mother in law at the Colosseum in Rome

While remote work affords some workers more flexibility and a more comfortable work-home balance, for others it can be the only way to work at all.

When Moni moved from the US to Italy to marry her long-term partner after four years long-distance, she had very basic Italian language skills and little prospects for finding work in a country where English isn’t the primary language.

“Where I live most people do not speak English [and] my Italian was very basic when I arrived. [It was] difficult to apply for jobs and even go through a job interview,” Moni says. 

“I actually stopped looking for jobs in Italy and started only searching for remote roles.”

For Moni, it was less about the usual drawcards of working from home — choosing her own hours or working while travelling. Instead, working remotely meant she didn’t have to compromise. Moni could live in Italy with her husband while also working in a role that utilised her skill set as well as allowing her to operate in her native language.

“I started with Shield about a year after I got to Italy,” she says. “I’d never worked remotely before – I always worked in an office.”

And while it did take some adjusting, Moni now prefers it.

“It was very different, especially in those first few weeks because you do kind of have to be a little bit more resourceful and independent,” she says.

“But now I’m really enjoying it — I just realised sometimes you can get a lot more done because there are a lot less distractions.”

Moni came on board as a Global Mobility associate, assisting Katrina with her clients. Within 6 months, she began working with her own clients and transitioned into the Account Manager role.

“That’s basically how I learned the role, working alongside Katrina,” Moni says.  

“Watching how she went through all the different processes and asking questions and then when I started doing them myself just having her there in case I ran into issues or didn’t know what to do next.”

In August this year, Moni transitioned into another new role – this time as part of the implementation team.

“Svetlana reached out to me after we met in Thailand and she let me know there would be an opening on her team and that she thought I would be a good fit,” she says.

“I started shadowing Anna just to see what the role entailed and if it would be something I would be interested in.”

After this shadowing period, Moni accepted the position and started training for the new role.

“It was something I was interested in because I wanted to be in a position where I could learn more about employment law,” she says.

“In the implementation role, because you do have a lot more contact with the local partners, you are able to learn a little bit more about what the different rules are in all the different countries.”

A remote virtual training experience

Moni’s Home Office

Moving roles means more training, and this is something Moni is now quite familiar with in her short time at ShieldGEO.

“It is different to training in person,” Moni admits. Though, this doesn’t automatically mean it’s more difficult.

“For me, it works out really well,” she says.

We’re always refining our processes but virtual training will usually include shadowing a manager, buddy or someone with more experience in the role. This means a lot of Zoom calls and screen sharing while walking through tasks step by step as well as plenty of check-ins throughout the learning phase.

“In addition to the formal training where it’ll be like an hour on this day of learning something specific,” Moni says, “having the informal Skype chat so when I’m working on something and get stuck, I’m able to send a quick message like, ‘help! I don’t know what to do,’ and get immediate feedback has been really helpful.”

While we aim to match team members up who are in the same (or, at least, similar) time zones, this isn’t always feasible with a global team.

“We do have a dropbox folder where we can access manuals anytime,” Moni says and we’re currently updating these to be more thorough across the board.

A day in the life of Moni

7:30 I wake up, shower, and eat breakfast while reading my favorite blogs.
8:30I start my day with team meetings three times a week. Then I sort through my emails, and look over my on-boarding employee checklists to see what needs to be done for each of my on-boarding employees that day.
9:30I set up my day so that I work on each of my on-boards one at a time which keeps me organized. I handle multiple on-boards at once so focusing on one at a time stops me getting confused! Most of my time is spent finalizing agreements and contracts, having clients provide the first payroll inputs for their new employees, answering/writing emails, and having calls with clients, local partners, and employees.
1:00I take an hour lunch break. I spend half of it eating lunch and the other half I use to catch up on housework (loading the dishwasher, doing some laundry, etc).
2:00I spend the second half of my day working on the on-boards I did not get to before lunch and answering any new emails that have come in.
5:30I go to the gym twice a week with my husband.
7:30I finish up the housework I did not get to during my lunch break while my husband cooks dinner. Then we eat together and watch a series on Netflix before bed.

Moni’s benefits of remote work

While the major benefit of remote work for Moni was affording her the chance to find work at all, she does still enjoy the extra flexibility.

“I went to the US and I spent a month there recently, I worked most of the time but I also took some days off to kind of visit because I have family in different states,” she says.

“For someone like me who does live far away from my family, if I had to take vacation days to go visit them I probably wouldn’t stay more than a week – but because you’ve got number one the workcation allowance but also the remote work where you can work from anywhere I was able to stay a month and still get my work done and not use 30 days of vacation.”

This flexibility was also helpful when Moni had to go to Canada for a family funeral.

“It was during a really busy invoicing time so I didn’t want to take a full week off so I was able to have that flexible working where I would work half days while I was there,” she says. 

Moni’s tips for staying motivated while working remotely

Moni is naturally someone who enjoys structure. She does take advantage of the flexibility in her hours to run an errands during the day occasionally but for the most part, she sticks to her regular routine of 8:30am – 5:30pm with a one-hour break for lunch.

The view from Moni’s home office window

“For me personally, it is helpful to have a set routine to have a certain time that I get up, take a shower, get dressed as if you were actually going to an office,” she says. “It just sort of helps get you in the mindset of, ‘ok I’m starting my workday.’”

She’s aware that other personalities may find working from home a little claustrophobic and in those cases recommends getting out of the house for a change of scenery.

“I have some really nice cafes near my house and the coffees are a euro so it doesn’t break the bank!” she says. “Whenever I feel like I want a change in environment, or change the air, then I’ll step out and work from there.”

She also makes a point of going to the gym a couple times a week and has weekly Italian classes that make her feel like her life doesn’t just revolve around work.

“I pretty much stick to my routine because I just really want to be able to enjoy all the things in my life.”

– Bree Caggiati October 2019

Want to know more about Moni? Visit her profile on the Our Team page!

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