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How Do You Remote?
AnnMarie Johnson

Welcome to our latest podcast episode, where we’re diving into the world of remote work with Dr. AnnMarie Johnson, an instructional designer from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Dr. Johnson has been successfully working remotely for over a decade and is what some would call a Remote Naturalist.

In this episode, she talks about her experiences and the lifestyle benefits that remote work has afforded her, especially in managing personal responsibilities such as caregiving for her family.  She discusses the importance of project management tools in keeping teams efficient and connected across different locations, as well as creative ways to keep team members connected in a term she coined as Virtual Co-Working.  

AnnMarie shares some personal lessons on adapting to remote work, emphasizing the need for self-discipline and effective time management. She also speaks on how organizations can benefit from embracing remote work, noting its potential to enhance work-life balance and meet diverse employee needs. She advocates for thoughtful remote work policies that align with both individual and organizational goals.

Join us as we explore these insights and more, offering valuable tips for both seasoned remote professionals and those new to this modern work arrangement.

AnnMarie Johnson Podcast (Traci): Hello and welcome to today’s episode in our how do you remote series, where we discuss all things related to remote work, from guests representing a variety of fields. Joining me today is Dr. Anne Marie Johnson, instructional designer from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She has extensive experience working remotely, and she is what some would call a remote naturalist. She has been doing remote since before remote, became cool. Welcome to the show, Ann Marie.

Ann Marie Johnson: Thank you, Traci, so happy to be here today.

Traci: What would you like to talk about today?

Ann Marie Johnson: If I can start with what’s kind of the most important about being a remote employee for me so as much. I’ve been doing it since before it was cool. I’ve been a remote employee since 2,013. So 11 years, and before that I did spend some time doing hybrid work for a few years, when I lived in Maine, narrow country roads in the wintertime, in particular, you couldn’t always get to work, and we had 3 locations of universities that I worked at. And so they allowed me to do hybrid work a couple of times a week, or when I wanted to.

The reason I love it the most my husband and I are caregivers for my 29 year old sister in law, who has intellectual disabilities, and she needs adults with her 24 hours a day. She goes to day services. But somebody has to be here in the mornings to get her up, give her breakfast, make sure she gets to her taxi, and somebody has to be there in the afternoon when she gets home.

The day services are only from 8 to 2 30, so it does not fit with a regular job, and well, my husband could do all of it if we really needed it. He is, let’s say, not a morning person, whereas I get up very early, so I start work at 6 in the morning, and then I get her up at 7 and get her on her way. I couldn’t do that. If I would had to drive to a job  the earliest I could get to a job would be 8:30, because the  taxi isn’t a very specific time, because they pick up a number of people, so I couldn’t guarantee that I could get to a job before 8:30, and if my husband had a doctor’s appointment, or something else that he was doing in the afternoons, I would have to pick her up by 3 Pm. Cause she can’t just go home and be alone, even for half an hour. It’s just not safe.

And so it that is one of the things that I love the best is that that flexibility, being able to be a caregiver for her right having that family care support within that remote role.

Traci: Yeah, that because a lot of times people talk about well, I have children, small children or this or that, but they don’t talk about caregiving for any age. Yeah, that’s a really crucial point. Unless you’ve done it. You don’t realize how supportive it is to have that remote role where you have that flexibility. It’s yeah with the time. That’s a really great example of remote inaction  for family support.

Ann Marie Johnson: And as I mentioned. I start work at 6 in the morning. I am a total morning person. I work best, I’d say, between 6 and 10 in the morning. No, any universities, which is where I typically work, would let someone come in at 6 Am. And leave by 3. I have done 7 to threes, but 6 am is a little early, and also as a woman.

I don’t know that I would feel comfortable going to a completely empty building or campus at 6 in the morning, either, but I can come in and work, and I do get my best work done in those early morning hours which, again remote allows me to do, and I understand not all remote jobs.

Let you be that flexible your hours, but the ones that I have had definitely do .

Traci: And you’re not really doing a lot of front facing dynamic calls and responses. It’s more scheduled. Tell me how you use that flex time like 6 to 2, or 6 to 3. How does that work when working with clients and other time zones, or are you within the same time zone?

Ann Marie Johnson: I’ve worked primarily in mountain, central, and Eastern, but I have also worked with people. Who’ve been in Europe, or one time I worked with somebody who was on vacation in Thailand, and we make allowances for the time zones. My outlook calendar actually has all the Us. Time zones listed. So I can easily like if I’m suggesting something at 8. And I’m like, Oh, they’re in Pacific.

That’s not gonna work and adjust based on that. So the occasional faculty who works all day because I work with a lot of nursing faculty, and some of them are in clinic or acute care settings. They can’t meet in the middle of the day, so I will occasionally have 4:30 PM calls. But again, because of the flexible nature of being remote. I don’t have to stay in the office then until 5:30 at night I get off a little bit early. Maybe I start dinner, and then I do the meeting, and then I can have dinner.

Traci: Okay, yeah, that’s a really good idea, especially those who are not used to remote. Some of us have worked in it pre covid. But so those types of situations where you can just adapt. And that flex schedule just really works with what you need it to do.

Ann Marie Johnson: Yes, it also means that I can do things like I do personal training and the personal trainers work regular business hours also. And I can do that instead of my lunch hour or work late that day, that sort of flexibility. So I think a little harder in a face to face environment definitely.

Traci: That’s really a good point about the work life balance and being able to take your lunch, break and go do that which is  just gonna make you a better employee, cause you’re gonna feel  healthier. It’s it’s more sustainable. So what are some things that you had to learn when you first came into remote maybe related to work-life balance. Were you like most of us, where you were like? I can’t take a break? I can’t get up. I’ll think I’m not working, or where you wore ballots the whole time.

Ann Marie Johnson:  I’ve been pretty good about the balance, and part of that. May be that I like. When I first, when I was at the University of Southern Maine, in Portland, I managed ultimately 4 people, maybe 5. Only one of them was in the same office as me. The Usm. Has 3 campuses, and my primary office was on one of those campuses, but the Ids worked at all 3 locations, and their office wasn’t in the same building as mine anyway, and so I was used to managing them remotely and working with faculty at times remotely, because we, you know whether that was because of driving to their sites or doing thing like more calls and even maybe a little bit of remote training because of the multiple locations.

And then, when I came to Pearson, I was originally in office. But some of our colleagues well, first of all. We have 3 locations also Chicago, Toronto, and Orlando, and managers were at multiple locations, and some of our employees, with other ids like me, were already remote.

They’d either moved away due to a spouse’s job, or in at least one case, someone had been a contractor from home, and they’d liked her work so much that they hired her full time, plus then our faculty were all over the country.

So yeah, you went to the office and you saw a few people, but they weren’t necessarily the people you are working with. You’re all on different programs. Your manager might have been in your same office, or might have been at a different office, and our director was only in Chicago. So by the time I went fully remote a year later, and at that time they also that gave everybody the option of going remote 2 or 3 days a week, depending on your job, and how long you’ve been with the company. It was somewhat natural. It just like they eased us in.

I’m also really good at scheduling my time. So after the first year, when I would often like have meetings all day long, or through the lunch, I block off 12 to one for lunch. Now, if somebody needs a meeting I’ll move it.

Traci: Forcing yourself to stop and take a break, because I know once you get into it when you’re in designing. Sometimes it’s hard to make yourself stand up

Ann Marie Johnson:  And I’m just tell myself I’m working from 7 to 3, 6 to 3, whatever the hours were pretty much. I stand up and walk away at 3. Now, because, like you said, I’m a knowledge worker, I often think about things in the evening. So when I’m going for a walk. So when I wake up at 3 AM. But I don’t come to the computer and work on those things. They might just sit and like kind of cogitate, but I step away because I I have hobbies that I love. I have family. I fix a dinner. I’ve got those other things to do, so I do them.

Traci:  That’s really a strong point, because we can always work over. There’s always going to be something else to click on. There’s something else to do, because I don’t think I’ll think. Oh, if I could just get this done! It’s like you have to walk away because walk away, to have another day to work, and when you do that you’re right, you have more time to  do the things that enrich your life and spend time on that. 

Tell me about project management tools, and how important that is. For because you talked about how everyone in your organization was spread all over the country do? Did they always have a project management tool when you came into that environment? Was it something at evolve like we don’t have to talk about a specific one. But just what would that look like for an organization that’s saying, “Hey, we gotta bring all our remotes back into the building because we can’t do this. It’s not working.” It’s like, well, maybe there’s some tools that could help so stick to that a little bit.

Ann Marie Johnson:  When I started like I said, 12 years ago, almost exactly to the day that you’re recording this. It was my first day they had. They had a project management system, but it was only sort of required. Everyone was told to use it, but not everybody did, and there started to be a push to make sure that we used it, and that iteratively they made it better and better for us. So my work is on university courses, which have a very well defined sequence, typically 3 or 6 times a year, and there are the exact same things that we do for every course.

So they developed templates that list, all of those items, and some of them are done by Ids. Some are done by our lead ids the media team, the QA copy edit team, and so on. And they create tasks for all of them, and then we also then would create tasks in there. When we had a copy edit or a media request, those get put into the project management software as well. And then we pass the manual. So a project like copy edit when the copy editor gets assigned, their name gets added. The this specific copy editor gets added to it. When they’re finished they change it to ready for review by Id, or something like that. And that’s how we know it’s now in our hands, same thing with media. And if we have media completes an item and we’ve got edits. We change it back to active for the media person, and when everything’s done, you mark it complete.

Traci:  Having that tool that’s customized for the process you have. And it sounds like you have a multifaceted process with multiple people from all over, and the tasks are depend upon each other to get into that short timeframe of the development that’s good to know for people who may be thinking, do we need that? Do we need a project management tool? Or can we just use excel, or some type of I know that’s where people started…

Ann Marie Johnson:  I liked it so much that a couple of years ago I was hired as a consultant for another project, and they weren’t using project management software. And we did do a lot of excel spreadsheets to carry things on, but I created a personal account and kept track of my own items. So I had like. Let’s say, 30 lessons that I was working on. I created projects for those 30 lessons, and then tasks for each one, and noted like that I had sent it on, that it had edits, that it had been approved. And that’s how I kept track internally. So I knew, okay, these are the ones I’ve done.

And then it also helps when it came time to invoice, because I was only supposed to invoice when a specific object was completed, and I knew which ones have been completed, and I could invoice them.

Traci:  Once you get a project management tool, you don’t know what your life was like without it. I mean you. So yeah, I’ve done. I did the same thing, actually, where I had to get a free account when I was working on some projects. So yes, that’s interesting to hear, because when you get used to it, and you see it done right, and how it can just bring the teams together that’s remote. It’s just it’s amazing.

 Ann Marie Johnson:  Well, one other thing I’d like to say that I really like about the remote work is that I can. And in fact, my current office used to be a breakfast nook by previous owners, but it’s my office, and the dining room is out. One door, and the kitchen is actually partially in my office, because there’s a little pantry type thing and a doorway.

So, for example. I like to bake bread usually in a bread machine. I’m not a by hand bread maker. I’ll be honest, but that takes a good 3 and a half to 4 h in a bread machine. I don’t know. I would only be able to have time for that on Saturdays and Sundays, because I’m a morning person, so I go to bed pretty early. I cannot get home from work and have 4 hours before I’m asleep. I can do that, though. So the other day I started up. I’m here to do like the couple beeps, and then it was ready for lunch, and I could do other tasks like that that need to be started  early. They’re right here for me.

Traci:  That is really cool. I mean, you have fresh baked bread for lunch! I mean, that is, people need to rethink, remote. It’s about enriching your life where you are, you have so many benefits. I know I talked to one person, they said, “I get the laundry done now. I don’t have it piled high” because they have time to do it. They hear those beeps with the laundry. Yeah, that’s really cool.

Ann Marie Johnson:  Another one that I’d like to note is, I have a couple of medical issues which sometimes gets really bad when I sit a long time, or when I stand a long time, so I get up and walk around a lot. You can do that in an office, but I think people would like, “why is she walking around again?” At home, I try to get up every 30 min because I need that break from sitting, from leaning, from getting in a really bad ergonomic position, and I walk around the house for a couple of minutes, and I come and sit back down. I would just feel a lot more awkward doing that in the office, but it’s certainly better for my health.

In addition, I have migraines, and they’re severe enough that probably in an office I would have to ask for some accommodations at times, because they come on very suddenly, and then I’m out for 3 or 4 hours again. I don’t know what I would do in an office. I can’t drive when I start to have one of these that drive, because I have had to, and it is really terrible. And one time I was in a car I almost got started to vomit because I was so nauseous from the movement of the car. So it’s saying like, “Oh, you could just drive home.” That’d be really, really tough if I drove myself to work. I couldn’t drive myself home. And what do you? I need a dark, quiet fall asleep because of the medication that I take after it. Again, the remote work allows me. It comes on. I can remove myself from the computer immediately, and either take sick time or work again later, depending on how much time. And so I don’t have to ask for an accommodation because of it. I just take the time off.

Traci: And that flexibility to be able to do that, you know. And that’s interesting, because I’ve talked to several people that have mentioned the health. It’s not just work, life balance, but just to support their health. And having that remote flexibility is has been really key for them. Wow! I’m glad you addressed that. That’s good.

Ann Marie Johnson:   Also, the heating differential that we always hear about with women. And I do remember being in in buildings, and I was just always freezing cold. Well, here I can pull my heater out. I can turn the heat up or down. If I’ve dressed incorrectly ,I can go upstairs to my closet and change my clothes.

Traci: There’s a lot of stress that’s taken off from that. Yes, definitely. Those are. Those are really good examples. Now, would you have any advice for someone from all of your years of experience? What advice would you give to it could be leaders. It could be those just coming in the field. It could be people who’ve worked remote for years, pr even to organizations that they’re not sure if they want to keep supporting remote, what advice would you give to any of those that’s like on your heart? You’re like. This is what I really believe in.

Ann Marie Johnson:   To leaders. I would say, “Let people work remotely.”

There was a company, and that company said, “If you live within a certain distance. There’s not going to be remote anymore. And we’re going to bring people to the office. If we hire new people they will be in office.”

 And I never heard a single person say that they were happy about that news again. My unit had been working. I think we’re now at about 7 years, fully remote. Other people that had started remote during Covid, and when they were given the opportunity to come back it was optional. At our previous company. The vast majority did not return to the office. They had shown that they could do the job.

Traci: Productively. High production.

Ann Marie Johnson:  Yeah. And we are like. And again, because we’re at multiple locations and we work with faculty and students around the US. None of us could come up with a good reason for why we needed to be in the office, we said, for a for some of the roles. For example, people who are talking to students through recruitment or doing student advising, being able to talk to each other and have more face to face, meeting being able to more easily listen in. On other calls. We could see that to some extent.

But again, most of their time is spent on the phone. Who cares where you’re located? If you’re on the phone, and for us we had somebody go back to the office. She’s the only person in that office in our unit of any type all alone. And the other one, you know, I might be people working on 2 different programs plus one media person. They never talk to each other, either.

Their managers weren’t there like? What? What was it doing other than making the company pay more money for the offices? It dropped overall, what do you call it satisfaction with the job.

Even those of us who didn’t have to go back to the office. It was killing us that other people did, and we lost people. I know personally of 2 people who said the reason they left for other jobs was the return to office, and they were people who, in one case it was somebody who’d been with us like one year less than me. So after 11 years return to office. She was gone. Somebody else had just been promoted. She left before she had to return to the office. That’s what it did we? They lost really good people by saying, you have to come back to the office if you’re within a certain distance.

But even those of us who work we are all like  what’s gonna be a cut off? Is it gonna be me? Why do we have to do this? We spent lots of time talking about it, too…

Traci: And wasting time and not working, because that was a big, a big issue. And yet what’s interesting is that is very similar to many industries. I’ve been interviewing people in and doing and finding research. That is the attitude of workers. They’re like if we don’t and they see it, they see the logic. They’re like what I don’t. I’m not front facing, and I don’t need to collaborate with anyone in this role. Maybe instead of a blanket policy, make it role specific like this is the reason we need you here because people see that. And you’re right, you’re gonna lose really good workers just to have what control is that? What? What? No one really knows what it is. And who is that decision maker making those decisions in all these different industries to come back to the site. I don’t know what that trend is. What did you guys figure out in your talks?

Ann Marie Johnson:   I mean we never figured it out. It was just the very highest leadership was pro office, and it didn’t matter what anybody else, and even like the next level of leadership, they were all remote. I don’t know that any of them were near located near the offices. Maybe one or 2 or so like even the upper levels of leadership didn’t return to offices because they weren’t living near one of our wow re-declared offices.

Traci: And people was almost want to move and just move a mile out of that range and say, sorry. I’m too far.

Ann Marie Johnson:  Yeah, actually they told us that if you had moved after, like June first, you were still required to come back to the office. I can’t even believe that it was like backdated. So they’re controlling your lifestyle. We’re gonna live. We’re gonna move. Wow! Unbelievable.

Ann Marie Johnson:    And a number of us said, because when they announced it, we didn’t know if they were going to just like determine locations like. For example, I’m I’m in Wisconsin. There are few others in Wisconsin, but we were expecting a Chicago office. But I said, Let’s say they decide to have an office in Madison. I would be considered close enough to go there, or even if it was one in Oshkosh, where they’re like, okay, you’re gonna go to this Co-working space now so that I don’t know why they would, but they could have. And I said, I told my manager upfront. I said, “I’m gonna look for a job immediately. I won’t quit immediately, because I need the health insurance, but I will be looking for a job if they require me to go to an office because it does not fit my life and needs, I will find a remote position.”

Traci: And it’s interesting that the laws that have not caught up with the remote work phenomenon where before you may be like, Hey, if you’re a hourly worker, and it’s like, Oh, they made me work overtime, but they didn’t pay me. We’d be like, well, that’s ridiculous. You can’t do that! Because the same thing with remote it’s like, well, if you live in this state, you can make this much, and if you live in this state it’ll be less. Or you like you just said the I wanna call it discrimination of locale is like, but if you live here you have to come back to the building. Why? It’s the same job that people are doing in these locations like it. Maybe some laws locally have started. But, like overall, like our reality, of what employment rights are, we we’re we’re exploring that. And so in 10 years they won’t have this conversation. She’ll be like, no, you can’t do that, or you know. But right now we’re fighting that. And we’re creating what the future of remote’s gonna be by these conversations.

Because it’s happening everywhere like you guys were meeting and having this conversation and saying, “this doesn’t make any sense.” It’s happening in every industry. And employees are talking about it. But it’s trying to figure out who’s making those decisions. Is it someone that just doesn’t understand the potential of remote?

They need control, or because some companies they’re going fully remote because they see it. And they are the innovators. And they’re getting staff and getting, you know, people from all over. They’re getting a larger pool to draw from. They’re getting the highest in most creative thinkers. It’s really astounding that some companies still don’t see the potential.

Ann Marie Johnson:   And I particularly find it ironic online education. So our whole reason for being is students and faculty don’t have to go to a the exact same location that also is like, so we’re promoting learning online, why can’t we work online?

Traci: The product can be disseminated and digested remotely. But don’t you dare work remote when you’re creating it?

Ann Marie Johnson:   And one of the things that I always say about online education. One of the reasons that I’ve always been a fan of it  By the way, I certainly I definitely think that brick and mortar schools gonna continue. I’ve always said that there’s a place for online. Also. Yeah, the people


who want to live out in the country or in South Dakota, which is where I happened to grow up. And there isn’t a program in what they’re interested in. Well, they can take it online and not have to move away from the community that they’re in. And they keep those skills and knowledge. Then in their community ditto with working remotely I can work for any company in the US, and maybe some of Brad. I don’t really know how international issues work, but I get to stay here in Oshkosh and keep my skills with the community that I’ve grown to love – love so much that we moved away for 7 years, and we came back because we missed it, and remote work allowed me to do that also, because we looked at each other and went, “Oh, you’re working remotely, you can. We can live anywhere. Let’s go back to Oshkosh. We love the Oshkosh so much.”

Traci: Oh, wow! Is that where your family is?

Ann Marie Johnson:  Nope.

Traci: Oh, so it’s just the community you love.

Ann Marie Johnson: Yes, we love the location after graduate after getting a PhD, at graduate school. They’re the ones who hired me. And we loved this smaller city college Town and we just didn’t find that the other places that we attempted to live for a while.

Traci: Which is the quality of life, because you love. Where that is. You love the weather, you love the you know what’s  happening in that area, the culture, all of that, and to have people move where they don’t want to be in order to come into a building to a job that then they know they can do anywhere, or they can do in an area, maybe, where their family or their interests are. It’s just. It’s it’s astounding that people don’t see that potential. It’s unbelievable, the lag time for it, for the buffering to catch up with what the workforce wants to do. That’s the trend.

What advice would you give to those just coming, just graduating, taking your courses, they get their degree, and they’re graduating. And so they have options to maybe take a remote job. Well, what advice. Would you give them?

Ann Marie Johnson:   I definitely think that you need to be an organized person to do it. As I mentioned, I’m pretty good at walking away and starting on time as well. Well, you have to be the type of person that can do that. My manager does not check in with me when I start work, because she was in a different time zone and was not a morning person. If you need that type of you know, outer accountability remote might not be for you, or a remote job that has very specified hours might,

You gotta keep good track of things again like y’all. In some places managers will be right on top of you, but it’s a lot different in the remote environment. My managers never saw what I was doing even hour to hour, sometimes week to week. We set up things like weekly or bi-weekly meetings. I would send emails the project management software really helped with that, too, because the manager could look at it and say, “Here’s where Ann Marie is on her various projects,” should it be needed. But I have to definitely be a self-starter self -motivator in order to work in this more flexible environment.


I didn’t know that going in. I was just excited by the idea of. I don’t have to go to the office every day. I don’t have to dress up every single day, but certainly having those skills made it much easier for me to get into it.

Another one would be. I think, remote work actually works very well, both for introverts. But it can also work well for extroverts, but if you are extroverted, you have to be sure to take the steps to stay connected with other people.

I honestly don’t remember what we did before we started using teams. We must have done something, but maybe it was just more like, maybe we used Google chat or something, but with teams, you know, I sometimes send funny gifs to coworkers, or a fact of the day.

Another one of mine, a good friend, really liked to do what’s called body doubling where you call you just keep the video on. But then you go and do your own thing. But that’s a way of having like an accountability partner, in a sense, because you’re both working kind of next to each other. And that was something that she needed me.

Traci: hat’s a really great idea. You’re just you’re just working right. But just like our video would be on now on Zoom. But we’re just. And then we think us up, and we’ll say something. That’s a really great idea for those extroverts that need that. That’s brilliant. And it’s called body doubling. Is that is that what it’s called?

Ann Marie Johnson:   And I I didn’t know that term.  She and I had been doing it for a while, and then I heard about it. It’s a term used. And this process came from people with ADHD who needed. And I’d heard it in terms of things like, Oh, let’s get online, and we’ll both clean the kitchen and so, and body doubling doesn’t quite like fit. What’s going on it to me.

Traci: what that would you call the term they used? What would you call it?

Ann Marie Johnson:   Co working? But can that kind of mean something else? So maybe Video Co -Working.  The point is that the video is there. So you see the other person, or you see, if they’ve left, and you can unmute and either ask sometimes it’s a work related question. “Oh, can you give me some advice on this rubric,” and we’ll pull it up and look at it together. And we’ll even say like, “Oh, I’m gonna go walk around for a couple of minutes, but I’ll be right back.”

Traci: So it’s like you’re in an office. It’s just a virtual situation. I love that!. So what did you call you call it? V

Ann Marie Johnson:   Virtual Co-working

Traci: That’s great Dr. Anne Marie Johnson has coined the term: Virtual Co-working.

Ann Marie Johnson:  I have both some extrovert and introvert quality. So I all day long without talking to anybody, without a problem. But then, once I get someone to talk to, I’ll just talk and talk and talk and talk. So a couple of co-workers and I would usually call each other a few times a week, and just chat also, “what’s up with the kids?” You know? “What’s the weather like? “Cause we live in different parts. “What are you struggling with?” And sometimes then, we’ll, you know, move on into work stuff. And sometimes it’s just a catch up. So like water, cooler conversations.

Traci: Yeah. which is so key, it’s really key. And I’m glad you mentioned the one thing about if this is what to expect in a remote environment. There are those factors of remote that we just we just glide into. But there are those skills you have to have to be able to do that, and I’m glad you mentioned those, the time management, the discipline, the boundaries, you know, being able to check in if you need to, because you may be that type of person that you need that connection with your manager. Am I on the right track? Especially if you’re new to the field like you. You’ve been doing this a while. I was like, I don’t really need that. You got it. But for those who are just getting into something. Maybe that’s what they need. So there’s a lot of individual differences to consider.

Ann Marie Johnson:   Yeah, because of talking about this, I just thought of another piece of advice for managers. Whether they’re at a distance or their team, or they’ve got a mix. One of the best things that my unit did our regular meetings. So for a while we had them like every single Friday that got to be a bit too much, they dropped them down to every other, and then, just once a month, when it dropped below that a lot of us are like we really miss those because we didn’t have a sense of like, who else do we work with other than directly worked with? So having those regular meetings is really important. My manager always had. She call it first Friday and sometimes she had something of note like, “Oh, here’s a new policy that’s coming out, or a new process,” and we talk about it.

But mostly they were chat sessions or celebrate a holiday together, type things. And so the people she managed we got to know each other really well, even if we didn’t all work on the same projects, and that was just something that I always looked forward. too, and really enjoy, because that was the way that I got to know others, and if somebody was new they generally met with the manager for either half an hour to an hour every single week dedicated, and as we got more experience it would drop down to every other week, at most half an hour. as well as being available like on call. That’s not there, but there would always be this regularly scheduled. I know I can talk to my manager next week or the week after and that’s like that’s a way to make sure, as a manager that your people are kept together, and even when we had people at like, when I worked in the office, but we had people at other, the other sites, as well as some people who are already fully remote in their homes. They would all be brought in like we’d go sit in a conference room, but then we would have all the other locations, so we always did the virtual there and then.

Ultimately, they made it like, even if you’re in the location, let’s do it all virtual, so that the couple of people who are fully remote don’t feel like exceptionally awkward, and I always thought those were great because we included everybody, and sometimes, like a couple of times they would bring in lunch. They sent folks. Yeah, you can get reimbursed for getting a lunch. But enough that it was like that was a nice touch.

Traci: Because when you’re the only remote, or maybe a couple of remote in a company that’s on site. You do feel left out, even if they don’t say it. It’s like but that’s really a nice touch. What was you mentioned something earlier where you said that you had the all teams meeting? And then they did it like, what did you say? Every week? And then they dropped it down to every 2 weeks. So what was the secret number that everyone felt connected? But it wasn’t too much?


Ann Marie Johnson:   Every month every month. So when they went last, less than the meetings, okay, we’re all like, “who’s our director.” They went through a couple of directors, but a couple of times we’re like, Wait a minute. Who’s our director? We never see them.

To be honest, there were a couple of times when I was like, oh, I need to talk to Jason again. I kind of miss it, and then we’re like, “Oh, he left the company 3 or 4 months ago”. Well, because we never had those full company meetings or full, you know, meetings. I didn’t realize he was gone there’d be new people.  Who’s I’ll just give a random. “Do I work with Stephanie?” And then I’d go and check like, oh, they’re under this. They work on this. Yeah, they’d been introduced to the team at some point. An email had gone out. But because we never had those full meetings. I never saw their name. I never saw their face. I forgot they were there.

Traci:  And that key for remote teams is to have that where it’s like new people, new manage because they could be doing all this other stuff. You take that for granted. But being able to see them. Yeah, that’s huge, right?

Ann Marie Johnson: And so that’s why, like, I was always like, I don’t actually know how many people we have, because we never met. I think it’s this. I think it’s that, but I don’t know…

Traci: but that’s important, especially when you get on. You see those numbers going up. You feel like you’re part of something larger.

I know. I used to work with you, and the first time I went to those it went over a hundred. And I was like, that’s a lot of people, cause I was new to remote and I was like, “that’s a lot of people.” And I didn’t want to say anything, you know. And it was like, Yeah, but it was good to have that, because you realize that when you’re working in all these place. You don’t realize how big the team is, because you’re only working with a few people. Yeah. And those are the only names you see. But when you see everybody, it’s like, “Wow, this is awesome.”

This is a lot of stuff you talked about. This is great.

Ann Marie Johnson: Thank you. Thank you.

Traci: That’s a great note to end on. And I want to thank you again and Marie for joining us today and thank you to our listeners for tuning into’s podcast where our goal is to help you continue to go remote and work on.