Given what’s required of us within the military lifestyle, many of us have not had a direct path to our current positions. 

Take Kara’s story for example. She’s the heart of Customer Success here at Instant Teams, serving as the frontline to our customers, diving deep into each new relationship with the highest level of skill, delivery, and communication. 

But her journey to a remote career was anything but ordinary. She dabbled in many things, from spending several years in on-site operations to taking a more entrepreneurial route by opening her own business, and pursuing higher education. See for yourself by following her route below.

karatimeline-01

So today, read on as Kara shares how she’s found success on a remote team—all while being a milspouse and also a homeschooling mom. 

Give us a day-in-the-life of what remote work looks like for you.

My remote workday stretches from start to finish to allow for that flexibility. I start my day with breakfast for the kiddos and prepping for the day. After I’ve done my morning routine for myself and the kids, I begin my work check-ins. I start with Slack because it’s a vital component of our work culture here at Instant Teams to keep us all connected. With team members across the globe, there is always someone online working, so making that my first point of contact in the morning allows me to see what has occurred while I was out. 

I then do a quick check of my email to ensure things are prioritized and taken care of before I develop the checklist of tasks I need to complete for the day. That includes a check of my calendar so that I know of any meetings I have for the day and can block off my time efficiently for tasks. From there, I’m very calendar driven. I have a personal calendar and a work calendar that I have up at all times so that they overlap and I get a true picture of what my day looks like. I will block off my time for high priority tasks, but I don’t like to stack them if I can help it because there are times where my team will need assistance throughout the day for real-time happenings that we can’t plan for. I will always take a break for lunch and try to fit a walk in during the day for fresh air, then at night, I’ll check out for dinner and family time before I do a final check before bed. 

I tend to head to bed at around 10 pm, so I will spend about an hour closing out the day between 7 pm and 9 pm so that by 9 pm I can allow myself time to decompress from the day. This “after hours” check-in allows for overlap with team members in other time zones while allowing me to star any items for next day follow-ups.

Your children are all school-aged but you homeschool - how do you manage to do it all (be a milspouse, mom, and be successful and disciplined on a remote team)?

Ah! Yes. The great “how do you do it?” question. So I think, first and foremost, the best thing to understand is that sometimes I don’t do it all. It really comes down to prioritizing, organization, and communication.

During core work hours, I prioritize work. But if there is a military event or family matter that needs to take priority (because let’s face it - events, appointments, moves, etc. all abound in this life!), I make sure to communicate that with my team and let them know whether I will be completely out of pocket or only unavailable for certain types of communications.

I also take my Sunday evenings to look ahead at the week and plan. There will always be things that we can’t plan for, but if I have a game plan for what I can plan for, then I can communicate with my team and set expectations ahead of time for myself so that I can more easily deal with ad hoc items.

Beyond your MyCAA journey, in what other areas / what resources have you used to upskill as a remote employee? Why do you think it's so important to upskill?

I’m of the mindset that it doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 95, there is still more to learn. Our world changes constantly, so there are always new areas to learn. One of the easiest resources is just reading and following trends. I am constantly reading magazines, articles, or books to learn new things and stay abreast of trends. I highly recommend following changemakers on LinkedIn and Facebook to see what they’re chatting about and promoting because they’re full of resources. 

This year, I received a certification through Workplaceless, which offers training on various remote work competencies. That was a great experience because we worked with individuals across the globe and it really brought perspective to remote work around the world and the differences therein. The course gives you a certification and badge to be displayed showing your expertise in specific areas of remote work such as general remote work, leadership, and training.

What are some of your top tips for military spouses wanting to jump into remote work? You're proof that there are no excuses!

For landing a remote position, don’t solely think about your remote work experience. Stop and think about all the things you’ve done remotely as a military spouse that isn’t related to work. Bought a house? Sold a house? Arranged a move? Found childcare, a dentist, hairdresser, etc.? Each of those involves skills and logistics that are frequently used in remote work so they are things that you can play up as skills and competencies during interviews. Partner that with remote work experience and you’re set!

Once you’ve landed the job, ensure that you have a remote workspace set up to work from including any items necessary for the job like a computer, webcam, and high-speed Internet. If childcare is necessary for the position, make sure to have that set up as well as a backup plan worked out. Knowing the company’s policy on childcare, especially under emergent circumstances, is vital.

As you spin up what remote work will look like to you, set up your ideal work schedule with your employer and quickly tackle communication and workflow expectations. Decide whether there are daily hourly requirements or perhaps workflow is more deadline-driven. Does the team use tools like Slack, Zoom, and Voxer to keep communication flowing, or is it solely email and phone calls? Knowing that ahead of time is ideal. Also, I highly recommend setting aside some time during your day to move around whether that be taking a walk, switching workspaces, or heading to a coffee shop for a change of scenery. Last, be in a state of continuous learning to improve your skills and prove yourself lucrative to the team.

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