Multimedia producer traveling the world, interviewing remote work experts before the pandemic struck.
Josephine is a freelance multimedia producer & photographer | Specializing in post-production
1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Josephine, hailing from Toronto, Canada. I’m currently a freelance multimedia producer & photographer, specializing in post-production. I’ve only started my remote work journey back in October 2019, when I jumped at a rare opportunity to travel around the world and interview remote work experts, compiling an online library about all things pertaining to remote work. The project was called Remoter. It all feels very meta.
Currently, I work at an online casting platform for voice overs called Voice123. The first of its kind to hit this space and transfer the way voice actors find work, I’ve taken on a role as their storyteller, finessing their content strategy and leading new multimedia projects (shameless plug, just launched The Booth, our content studio dedicated to voice actors!) The voiceover industry is a fascinating one; and I’m learning a lot every single day. Best of all, yes, we’re remote-first. We’re a small team but we’re spread all over the world, and it’s now second nature for me to adapt my working style with time zones into consideration.
2. What motivated you to choose remote working?
Before, I was working at a 9 to 5 as a post-production producer in an in-house studio in Toronto (well, rarely ever ‘5’ because our clients were in the advertising industry. It was more like 9 to never-ending.) and I also had a 3 hour to and fro commute to top that off. Around my 2 year mark there, I started to wonder if there would be a way for me to travel and still advance in my professional goals. I looked into working holiday visas, then stumbled upon the online groups and world of remote work. And then, I landed my first remote job. It was the first one I applied to, and I guess timing was right for everything.
Looking back, I don’t know why I was OK with that life. This year, I haven’t even touched public transit once. I really enjoyed the people I worked with and I made a ton of great connections to strengthen my network. I learned a ton at that job, which I’ve brought on over to my other jobs now. But I don’t know what I was thinking. I remember I was calculating how many hours I must’ve spent, on average, on public transit. And it was equal to something absurd, like 2 months or so.
What was I thinking?!
3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?
My initial months were pretty crazy, to say the least. Travel was a part of my work, so I didn’t stay in one place for too long. For the initial months, I relocated to Mexico City because I wanted to pass the winters away from Canada’s cold.
I definitely struggled a whole ton with overworking and not being able to set boundaries for myself. I felt guilty for not hitting my daily goals that I set up for myself! But I also wasn’t properly tracking and measuring my progress (e.g., OKRs, KPIs) properly; not to say that’s the only way to track goals, but I wasn’t doing anything and it really felt like I was floating aimlessly all over the place.
I was so thankful that the opportunity allowed me to relocate and live somewhere else for a bit, but it took more time than expected to get used to.
PS: I understand how to track my goals and measure my progress properly now. Yesss.
4. How did you find remote working roles?
I look at a bunch of places; AngelList, Guavabean, digital nomad Facebook groups, Remotive, Torre, LinkedIn & the abundance of groups offered, private Slack channels around remote work… but to be honest, I think because my network of remote workers has expanded significantly, I do feel it’s the connections that’ll get you places. Word of mouth referrals are really powerful within the remote work community. I mean, they’re powerful in any industry, of course, but there seems to be a higher sense of camaraderie going around the global remote work community.
5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?
The best: working with a global workforce and ‘meeting’ people from all over the world! And to top off the note on ‘meeting’, I don’t just mean in a career/professional sense. Prior to the pandemic, because I was constantly on the go, I would also take the opportunity to drop into Brazilian jiu-jitsu gyms and train with locals there. I loved it (it’s sort of impossible right now) but I was blogging my adventures away on BJJGlobetrotters.
The good: I’ve become a lot more responsible, taking matters into my own hands. In all technical and legal senses, I am a contractor, a sole proprietor. It opened my eyes to the freelance world, motivating me to increase my financial literacy and get my personal finances together. It opened my eyes to investing in an international financial strategy since I’d like to continue living abroad once the COVID-19 pandemic settles down. It opened my eyes to the intricacies of HR and compliance when building a remote workforce. I feel a lot more educated now, and able to take matters into my own hands.
The worst: sometimes I miss the in-person banter. Even though I feel close to my coworkers, it definitely took a lot longer to get to that level. It’s not the end of the world, but I do feel a bit jealous of people who’ve met their coworkers in person before.
PS: This feeling would usually be squashed with the help of our yearly retreat, but this year, of course our retreat was online.
6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?
Anything that lets me move fast with the help of asynchronous communication
Notion - my entire life is on Notion. I love how easy and seamless it is to use. I’m also about to move my personal website onto Notion with the help of Fruition.
AirTable - my entire work life is built within AirTable and its awesome asynchronous functions, as well as the automations it offers.
Bubble - the best way to send screencaps, screen recordings, etc. All through links. No need to have an account to comment or use the tool.
FileStage - great feedback tool. I mainly use it to asynchronously track and pass on video feedback, but it can be used for any media.
7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.
I think what’s exciting to me was when the world was shifting to remote work during the beginning of the pandemic. By that time, I would say I was the remote work expert within my group of friends. People were turning to me for advice, which was fair, I just spent the last 8 months creating and curating a huge initiative around educating others about remote work. It was exciting for me to be able to share my knowledge, though!
8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?
It’s going to feel exciting, of course! But once the novelty dies down, loneliness can creep up. My golden advice to a new remote worker is to be proactive and find ways to calm the feelings of loneliness before they get out of hand. Whether it’d be virtual coffee breaks with your colleagues using the ever-so helpful Donut or using networking platforms to do so (e.g., Cafecito), you’re 100% not alone on this. I think it is common for everyone who works remotely to feel waves of loneliness pass through time and time again.
9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?
Well, I’d like to continue working on becoming a trusted producer within the realms of media production, or at least, being up to date with industry knowledge and my network/connections. I am hoping to network and collaborate with more creatives around the world; production studios and companies, post-production experts, writers, cinematographers, directors, the whole schtick.
Even though I’m currently working for a part of the media production industry, I’m still very much in a tech company. Maybe I’ll itch to revert back into more production-focused roles; as long as I can remain location-independent, that is. I find that the media production industry is quite traditional/old-school, and if there’s ever an opportunity to mesh a more remote workforce with that industry, I reckon the time is now. And I’d be up for the challenge.
10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?
Look at it this way. 6 months prior to the pandemic, I was working on figuring out how to educate people about remote work. Traveling around the world, compiling this remote work content library, producing & hosting 2 seasons of the Remoter podcast, and hosting in-person talks and networking events about remote work 2 months into the pandemic, we put together the culminating Remoter Stories transmedia project.
But all it took was maybe a month of a global pandemic to make people realize, oh, working remotely isn’t that impossible if the goal is to find a way to keep our businesses running.
All that’s to say, you can put so much effort into a cause, but once it’s everyone’s reality and need to change course, then that’s when true evolution comes around. Now that it’s quite clear working remotely is possible for many industries and companies, I don’t see why they’d make it mandatory for employees to go back to the office.