As remote working professionals we receive lots of questions about what it’s really like to work remotely. We love talking to seasoned remote professionals from around the globe to give you a real life insight into the life of a remote worker.
Meet Christine Readwin, Systems Analyst at Under Armour
Under Armour is an American firm that manufactures and sells sports apparel, accessories and footwear and is a well-known brand in the US. Internationally, they are still somewhat small in comparison to companies like Nike and Adidas, but they are growing rapidly.
As a Systems Analyst, Christine supports the order to cash system for the company, globally. Christine has been working remotely in this role since September 2015 from her home office in the UK. Previously, Christine worked full time in Under Armour’s US office in Baltimore, Maryland, whilst her husband (in the British military) was posted there for three years. When her husband’s posting came to an end, it was time to move back to the UK. When Christine announced her departure, her boss asked if she could continue to work remotely. She jumped at the opportunity! The flexibility of working from home was very appealing to Christine, given that she regularly moved due to her husband’s military career. This was an opportunity to continue working in her chosen profession and cut the commute, which was up to three hours a day when she worked in the US office. It also meant she no longer needed to pay expensive after-school child care fees as she could be more flexible with her daily schedule and work around her 3 children.
The company has also benefited from having Christine work remotely. With Christine based in the UK, they now have a resource better able to support their expanding international business, largely because Christine is in the same time zone as the European market. While still reporting to her boss in the US, she visits the European headquarters in Amsterdam for a week each month and spends time with her colleagues there. So even though she works remotely the majority of time, she rarely feels like she’s left out of the loop and still gets to enjoy the social interaction.
Christine can also take advantage of working in a different time zone to her US counterparts. With the US working day not starting until around 2pm UK time, Christine can drop her children to school and enjoy some exercise before starting her busy day, which generally begins with responding to emails that came in overnight and reacting to any support issues or project tasks she has been assigned by the team.
I get quite a lot done in the morning as there are few distractions, emails, instant messages or meetings. I take breaks to put washing on, empty the dishwasher, hang washing on the line. But I usually have plenty of issues to solve, so I don’t have to worry about motivation.
The company has a system where team members can record how much time they have spent on each issue or task, and this allows her boss and colleagues to very easily keep track of her productivity and output throughout the day.
I like the system of recording time especially when working remotely. If there is any doubt on what I am doing each day, my boss and colleagues can see it quite clearly. It also means that if I need to pop out during the day to support something at the children’s school or for a hair appointment I can work a little later into the evening to ensure I have made up my hours. Although over the course of a typical week, I often work more hours than I am supposed to!
In the afternoon, Christine will sometimes make arrangements to catch up with a friend for lunch, or just spend some time in the garden. She occasionally looks after a friend’s dog (her friend works in an office) and enjoys taking the dog for a run or just having her sit by her feet while working from home.
Christine is grateful to have the flexibility to work anywhere she has a good Internet connection, and this can be of benefit to her wider family as well.
On occasion I will work at my parent’s home as they have good wifi and I can watch my Dad, who has dementia, depression and anxiety, whilst my Mum has some time away from the house and from caring for him.
When the children come home from school in the afternoon, Christine admits it can be a difficult time juggling the demands of work and looking after the needs of her children.
Sometimes I need to shut myself away for conference calls. Often I can hear the children fighting while on a call. Thankfully, my work colleagues are understanding of my situation and usually find it amusing.
Working from home also means Christine’s family have had to learn to be a little more forgiving if the kitchen is left untidy, or dinner isn’t on the table at an appropriate time, often due to an urgent issue that the US office needs solving.
The family do help, but they all have to be reminded from time to time to help out.
Yes, it can be challenging at times, but in general Christine enjoys working from her home office. She can manage her own schedule and take breaks (within reason) when needed, and can make up the hours another time. She can fit household chores around her workday, and there’s no need for childcare and no wasted hours commuting, saving precious time and money. Her weekends are free to enjoy with the family.
Most importantly, if the family needs to move again, Christine can continue her career as a Systems Analyst. She can work from home wherever she has good and reliable Internet, and actively contribute to the growth of Under Armour whilst maintaining her skillset and contributing to the family income. It’s a win-win situation.
Christine Readwin is a Systems Analyst currently working for athletic apparel company Under Armour. She has been working as a Systems Analyst since she completed a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science in 1994. She has worked as an IT consultant, freelance IT Consultant and permanent employee for many large corporate companies specializing in the SAP Sales and Distribution ERP software. She is a military spouse with three children and a keen runner. She lives in a small rural village in Hampshire, UK.