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A Day in the Life of a Remote Worker and Student – Meet Sarah from Shield GEO

At Shield GEO, we’re really proud to offer our employees flexibility around how they structure their days. Employees can set their own standard working hours to reflect their most productive times or fit in around other commitments. 

We have office spaces in London and Sydney that are available for those who want to work co-located, but this is entirely optional. Along with choosing work hours, we encourage all employees to select their preferred workspace too. Many of our remote employees work from home while others work from co-working spaces, libraries and cafes. 

We know that everyone is different, and what works for one person is unlikely to work for another. So, instead of one prescribed way, our approach is flexible and inclusive.

To showcase these differences, each month, we profile a Shield employee and reveal the unique ways remote work works for them. 

This month, we’re profiling Sarah, our UX designer and developer. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. 

A day in the life of a remote worker and student 

Sarah was studying her Bachelor’s degree part-time when she first came onboard with Shield as a contractor two years ago. She produced UX/UI design work for us while she completed her studies, which she did remotely in the evenings.

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She then transitioned into a full-time role in July last year, and her position now includes UX development as well as design.

Sarah’s a part of our projects team working on optimising Salesforce processes.

“We’ve got an idea board, and we pick off the ones that will have the most impact on the team,” Sarah says. “If you think about invoicing — something Shield employees have to do hundreds of times a month — making one aspect quicker or easier, actually has a big impact.”

Sarah also assists the marketing team with small projects like designing new webpages or graphic design components.

Initially, Sarah came into the Sydney office a few days a week to complete her work but has since transitioned to be fully remote, only coming in occasionally.

She says the biggest drawcard was ditching the commute.

“My commute was a bit over an hour one way,” she says. “I’m personally not a fan of really crowded trains for that long, and I had a habit of getting on at peak times it was sort of weighing on me.”

Working from home also meant Sarah could enjoy her flexibility before beginning study again this year.

“I’m about to start a Master’s degree, and it’s in person this time,” Sarah says.

“I realised it would be a lot to commit to going in [to the office] and also going to university.”

Sarah will be studying interaction design and electronics, which looks at the way people interact with tech.

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“I’m interested in improving products and how they can impact a person’s life and experience even in situations like work,” she says. “I would like to look into how people with disabilities and ageing people [use tech] because there’s still a bit of a gap there.”

While she’s used to juggling study and work, Sarah admits she used to struggle to switch off at times.

“I did my bachelors online, remotely. That was really hard because I was also working from home,” she says. “I had to separate what means study and what means work, and eventually, that was like the hours of the day, or it was the kinds of breaks I took. I couldn’t go straight from work to study because when I did that, I would start to morph into somebody who would sit at their computer from the time they woke up to the time they went to sleep.”

She learnt how to schedule meaningful breaks like going to the gym or reading in the park to give herself some distance from her desk. 

This time around, Sarah feels she’s in a better headspace to continue with these boundaries.

“I think the support from co-workers and my manager, Tim, helps,” she says.

“At my old job, it was expected that we be always ready or always on for work and that wasn’t good. Working for Shield has sort of been retraining that [learned behaviour]. I’m learning that it’s ok for me to have a life outside of work.”

This even means making room in her schedule for further study.

“Shield is really supportive of studies, I’m able to choose to take fewer hours so I won’t overextend myself with study,” she says.

And, while Sarah will likely wait to see how she handles the extra load, she feels confident that Shield will be supportive of whatever she chooses to do.

“I don’t feel that fear that if I ask for something I’ll be in trouble,” she says.

A Day in the Life of Sarah

6:30

Wake up

6:45

Go for a run

8:30

Time for breakfast and to get ready for the day. Feed the cat.

9:00

Start work – open emails, Slack and my daily checklist. Start working through the highest priority tasks.

12:00

Lunch break – walk to a local park and read under a nice shady tree.

1:00

Continue on with work – today I need to finalise some front-end development on our latest Visualforce page.

3:00

Projects call with Jacky – catch up on progress this week, run through any problems and re-prioritise any tasks.

4:30

I spend about half an hour dedicated to learning. I’m currently working through a short course related to my dev work.

5:00 

Finish up by reflecting on my day and prioritising my tasks for the next.

5:30

Cook myself some dinner and practice some Finnish before reading a book or watching some TV.

Maintaining a schedule while enjoying flexibility

Before jumping back into study and an increased workload, Sarah wanted to enjoy some of the freedom associated with flexible work.

Now that she works from home more regularly, it’s easier to be flexible with her start and finish times.

“Sometimes I start at 7am, sometimes I start at 9am, and sometimes I start at 10 am,” she says.

Though that doesn’t mean she completely disregards routine. 

“It’s not like throughout the day I’ll do whatever I want,” she says. “It’s more like, oh I started at 7, so I have my 7am routine today, and that means I’ll go to the gym at midday and then finish off after that.”

Starting later in the day usually means she’s gone to the gym earlier or fit in other errands that needed taking care of.

Sarah also took the opportunity to work while travelling last year by taking a ‘workation’ in Japan.

“It was really good,” she says. “I just sort of plopped down in my hotel and worked the standard workday for me, and then went out to do things after that.”

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Sarah’s pet cat

She had done something similar in Melbourne before, but this was her first time taking her work with her overseas.

“I found it really easy. I guess it’s the motivation of wanting to get my work done to go out that kind of keeps me going. I also find it pretty similar to working from home – it’s just a different location,” Sarah says. “I really liked it.’

– Bree Caggiati, January 2020

 

 

 

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