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A Day in the Life of a Remote Worker Working From Anywhere: Meet Marilu

Without the diverse, hardworking, intelligent, and kind people who make up our team, Shield wouldn’t be able to offer the level of service we do. At Shield, we love our team and know that our unique perspectives and backgrounds make us stronger while our common values connect us. That’s why each month, we love sharing our team’s stories through our A Day in the Life series, where we hope you can get to know our team a little better.

This month, we’re profiling Marilu Torices, one of our Account Managers based in Chicago, USA. 

Meet Marilu

Marilu’s first experience of remote work was about a year before she joined Shield. After working as an accountant for a small marketing firm in Chicago, Marilu pitched the idea of a ‘remote year’ to her employer so she could travel the world with her sister, Martha.

“I convinced my boss to allow me to hire an assistant so I could turn my role remote and go traveling for a year,” she says. “I made a whole presentation. I did a whole thing. And he was just like, ‘Okay, let’s try this out.'”

And so, she spent the next year traveling throughout Mexico, South and Central America with her sister Martha — all while working for her company back home in Chicago.

Eating a scorpion while in Mexico!

“To me, life is about traveling and experiencing other cultures and other places,” Marilu says. 

“We just had the best time.” 

After a year of adventure, Marilu reluctantly left Martha on the road, made her way back to Chicago, and took her work back to the office. 

“My assistant, who was in the office while I was remote, had graduated and was moving to Florida. So, I had to either find someone new or my boss didn’t want to let me leave again,” she says. 

Eventually, after some time working in Chicago, Marilu made the difficult decision to leave her job in pursuit of something more permanently remote. 

“Around that time, Martha had started working with Shield, and she would always tell me about this great company culture and how they just really want you to take care of yourself, and there’s a balance, and that she really liked what she did,” Marilu says. “She spoke so nicely of Shield GEO that I was like, ‘Oh wow, maybe this is something that I can also apply for and explore?'”

Initially, Marilu applied for a Finance position, but her location wasn’t quite right for our timezone requirements at the time. However, Stella, our Head of HR, told Marilu about another position we were hiring for and asked if she might be interested in that instead. 

“She definitely sold me on it, and I went through the whole interview process for the Account Manager position, and I got in!” Marilu recalls.

marilu morocco
Having breakfast in Chefchaouen, Morocco

Our recruitment process can often take a few months from application to onboarding, as we have multiple steps in the process. While Marilu was waiting to hear back from Shield with an offer, she confidently booked another trip with her sister. 

“Martha was going to Spain for three months, and I thought, now that I’m trying to apply for this remote job, I also want to travel. So then, semi-knowing that I was going to get it (but not 100%), I booked my flight!” Marilu says. “When I started at Shield on my first day, I was already in Spain.”

The sisters then spent the next three months moving around Europe and meeting up with various Shield teammates, including our co-founder Duncan and the rest of the UK team.

“It was this full-circle moment of the spirit of why I wanted to come work at Shield — the flexibility for me to do a bunch of things I want and not feel limited by a job that I have to stay in one place,” Marilu says. “I had my laptop sent there, and it was so fun because I was with my sister, we would go to co-work spaces during the day, and then would go to our little Airbnb in the afternoons and hang out. So it was really amazing.”

A Day in the life of Marilu

7:30 am

Wake up, take Rufus for a potty break. (Every other Thursday I start work at this time since we have an All-Team call across international time zones)

8:30 am

Feed Rufus, make coffee and have a light breakfast. (Every other Thursday I start work at this time since we have an Americas-Team call across USA time zones)

9:30 am

Get started with work at my desk. Check my emails and categorize them by priority. Check Skype and Slack for team updates.

10:00 am

Work on responding to emails, updating cases, and providing assistance to my clients and employees.  

12:30 pm

Take a break. Go for a walk with Rufus or go to lunch with my fiancé, Robert. If the weather is nice, we take Rufus and have lunch at any of the nearby restaurants with outdoor patios.

2:00 to 5:00 pm

Focus time. I work on more complex cases and work to clear my inbox. Depending on the period, spend most of my time inputting payroll data, issuing invoices, or working with the Shield GEO team to solve cases.

5:00 pm

Check my inbox for any time-sensitive items left to be completed before my end-of-day.

5:30 pm

Final check on my email for anything that I must prioritize for the following day. If it’s invoicing deadline, I will work a bit longer to ensure clients have a chance to provide all their inputs before I log off and deadline passes.

6:00 pm

Ideally, I’d shut down my computer at this time. I have dinner and maybe go for a dip in the hot tub to destress.

11:00 pm

Take Rufus for a final quick potty break so he doesn’t wake me up before 7:30am! Get ready for bed, read a little. 

Ice skating with her fiancé in Chicago

The pandemic meant travel was off the table for most of 2020, and while this was particularly difficult for this world traveler, it did allow Marilu to spend some quality time with her fiance.

“He has a restaurant, so it’s usually really difficult for him to take time off,” Marilu says. 

“He’s usually there all day, every day. Especially when I would be able to take a trip, like, weekends or longer trips, he has to be at the restaurant. So it’s been really difficult for us.”

While the flexibility of Marilu’s work certainly helps, having Rob home during the city-wide lockdown was extra special. 

“At the time, we weren’t engaged, but we were living together, and I think that’s kind of what proved to us that we really work. We were together 24/7. I work from home, he was at home, and we had the best time. We didn’t get tired of each other at all.” 

It was certainly a precursor for things to come as the couple got engaged earlier this year on a trip to Mexico to visit family. 

“My cousin was getting married in Acapulco, so I forced him to take some days off from work,” Marilu says. 

Marilu and her family: Martha, dad, fiance, and mom up front

The day after the wedding Marilu and her family took a surprise yacht trip to watch the sunset. 

“When the sun started setting, it looked so, so beautiful, we went to stand at the front of the boat to see it,” she says. “A little fisherman boat came in front of our yacht. They released this colored smoke and dropped a sign that said, ‘Marilu, will you marry me?'” 

Her dad, who lives in another part of Mexico, secretly joined them on the boat so they could celebrate together. 

“It was so so beautiful! We had the best time,” Marilu says. “Obviously, my sister helped him a lot!”

Marilu is understandably thrilled to be marrying her long-term partner but is adamant it won’t change her future travel plans. 

“[Rob’s] so supportive of what I want to do,” Marilu says. “He’s often saying, ‘Oh, why don’t you go visit your sister for a couple of days? Or, you know, go somewhere, don’t feel bad that you’re going to leave me [in Chicago].'”

In fact, Marilu is set to spend the next few weeks in Costa Rica with Martha and another Shield teammate, Rosalyn

“We’re all going to meet up and stay in the same co-living co-work space, and so we’re all going to be working there together. I’m so excited!”

Working full time while traveling

Over the years, Marilu has developed somewhat of a strategy to remain productive while working and traveling. 

“I book longer stays. So I’m not just going for a week where maybe it would be difficult for me to be as productive as I would be if I were home because I’m trying to squeeze that country in a week,” she says.

“By booking longer trips, you have the time to work during the day, go out in the evenings or be flexible with your schedule, take a big break in the middle of the day, so you can go to the beach, go surfing whatever you want. And then come back and work at night when maybe there are not many things to do.”

Her 11 year old dog, Rufus

It also gives you the chance to immerse yourself in the new city or culture. 

“I want to go to a different place and feel like I live there. For me, working kind of helps me get into that mentality. I’ll work, and then I’ll go out after kind of like scheduling your day like a normal like if I was in Chicago, but now I’m in Costa Rica,” she says. 

Traveling also gives her more motivation to get through the day’s work because there are exciting activities to do and places to see after signing off for the day.

“I think I’m able to be as productive, if not maybe even more, because I’m just a little more focused at that moment. I don’t have any distractions here like looking after my dog or running errands. I have something to work towards because I’ll have a tour booked at 12 or something like that.”

For some people, the idea of working from Costa Rica sounds like an excuse to get extra vacation days or a recipe for slacking off. But it’s clear that for Marilu, the flexibility of her role and the chance to work from anywhere actually increases both her motivation to work and the enjoyment of daily tasks. By incorporating what she loves to do into every day, she fills her work life with purpose and direction and means she always has something to work towards.

— Bree Caggiati

Read more about our team and how we enjoy working remotely!

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