Michael Kitces #FinTech

Working remotely experiment over: Back home in San Diego

Sheryl Rowling answers the question: Is it possible to work remotely for a month?

May 28, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

By Sheryl Rowling

I arrived home from France the other night. It was a long day — literally — since I chased the sun all the way! Although I am very jet lagged, I’ve had time to evaluate the experiment. Was it really possible to work remotely for a month?

(See part one of Sheryl’s story: Can an adviser work remotely for a month?)

Ignoring the fact that it wasn’t quite a month (I cut my trip a little short due to my broken foot), I would say “yes.” After spending just three hours in the office Tuesday, my emails are caught up (since I only had a day’s worth to answer) and I have handled all of the mail and paperwork stacked up on my desk.

For the most part, I had already seen and taken action on any client-related items thanks to my office manager’s scanning and emailing. The rest was primarily professional reading and administrative items. While away, I was able to return phone calls daily, so there were no phone messages to deal with. So, with a half day back at work, I am caught up.

(See part two: Three tech tricks for functioning smoothly overseas)

It’s true that I did not get ahead on my work. I didn’t tackle any major long-term projects, and I didn’t get to any of my non-priority tasks. I’m okay with that; at least I didn’t lose ground.

Would I do it again? My answer is again “yes.” I think May is a good month to go. It’s not overly busy; it’s not the end of the quarter, and it’s not tax time. What would I do differently?

1) I would ensure high quality, high speed internet. The internet service at our rented apartment was hit or miss. At one point, I actually had to resort to my cell phone for an hour long meeting at 99 cents per minute. (That was pretty good for four weeks, right?)

2) I would be more realistic about the time zone difference. It was nice to sightsee during the day and start work at 6 p.m. However, it was impossible to work more than five or six hours, and I was tired. It’s not that I wouldn’t go to Europe again; I would just adjust my expectations.

3) I would tell my clients. A lot of them found out about my journey through this blog. (I had no idea how many of them read this!) Now that they know I really can work on my extended sojourns, I believe it is better to be up front about my location. It might even inspire them!

I have to admit that another benefit to my experiment was having four weeks of not needing new topics for my weekly blogs. I will need to put on my thinking cap for next week!

I hope that my experience will prompt some of you to try your own extended get-away.

Sheryl Rowling is chief executive of Total Rebalance Expert and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a non-techie user of technology.


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