This week, we had the exciting opportunity to interview Alessandro Montalto who’s been working as a remote work coach. We’re sure you will also find his advice helpful to live your best remote worker life!
Hi Alessandro, nice to have you at The Remote Worker Life today, please tell us more about yourself.
I am Alessandro, an Italian guy living in Belgium for nine years. I have always studied and worked remotely. Thus, I can safely say that I have lived a remote lifestyle for more than 15 years now.
How did you start working as a remote work coach and what inspired you?
I started my career path in academia because I wanted to help other people. I wasn’t happy with how society was dealing with the difficult challenges of our time. I wanted to give my contribution to improving things. But doing research wasn’t the best way to make a difference for me.
After experiencing a huge burnout and depression, I decided that I needed to quit research. I deepened into an inner journey that started ten years ago to finally realize that I always wanted to listen to people, interact with them and build a rapport.
That’s when I decided to combine my natural attitude towards people with my longing for change. I studied to become a certified life coach and I have been professionally helping people since two years ago.
What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?
I think that the main advantage of remote work is what people usually tend to overlook or even consider as a curse: being by yourself. It might sound weird but being by yourself is usually a blessing because it encourages you to face yourself, your mindset, your approach to life, and to change if you don’t like what you see.
I am not talking about being a hermit. I am talking about being at peace with the fact that remote work inherently brings a component of loneliness, but it doesn’t have to be a weak point. In fact, it is the strongest ally in shifting your point of view. That shift is going to help current and future remote workers improve their lives dramatically.
When we embrace being by ourselves, we are willing to look deeper into the fabric of our soul. If we don’t like what we discover, we have two options. The first option is giving up, thinking that we can’t take it anymore, that it’s too difficult, that society, family, and government are to blame for how we live – the victim mode. The second option is about taking full responsibility for our life and change when needed.
It can be painful, but it will get much better and our lives will be so rewarding. Our remote work life will be boosted by choosing the second option: responsibility. Only by owning our responsibility, we can build a true remote society where we can live closer to nature, polluting less and caring more.
What are the most common challenges remote workers tend to experience and what is your advice to overcome these?
What emerges from the conversations I have with remote workers is that they struggle with five big challenges:
- Team player mentality
- Visibility for a career advancement
- Work-life integration
There are several things that remote workers can do to overcome these challenges. I am talking about them in detail on my youtube channel, but what I can say to meaningfully summarize several minutes of videos is that the thread that all the challenges have in common is accepting change. Accepting the idea that life constantly evolves means going through the grief that change inevitably brings.
Once we are used to processing the pain that change brings, we will move from fighting against life to going along with life. Therefore, unplugging will be easier because we easily detach from what keeps us plugged in. We will live a healthier and more fulfilling life, keeping burnout at bay. And we will establish meaningful relationships by developing great communication strategies that will allow us to be amazing teammates, gain visibility, and smoothly integrate work with life.
What kind of problems are more likely to happen in a remote company versus in a regular company and how would you solve these?
I think that all the main problems a remote company can have are related to poor communication. When you work remotely, the human factor is negligible compared to working in the same office. By human factor, I mean a smile, a nod to underlie complicity, an invitation to grab a coffee together, and so on. Remote work strips a remote worker’s life from this human factor. Therefore, communication gets stiff and more complicated than it should be for smooth teamwork to occur.
Leadership and followership gets compromised, broken. The whole teamwork is at stake. Consequently, well-being and productivity get damaged. In order to solve the communication issue, remote companies need to learn how to establish a vulnerable, safe, non-judgmental and curious environment where people are free to express themselves. But you can’t be vulnerable and non-judgmental if you are in pain. And the pain comes from change, remember? Thus, accepting change is the very first step to learn to communicate better and solve all the issues at their source.
What are the key skills that a remote worker needs to be successful?
The key skills that are required to be a successful remote worker are acceptance, vulnerability, communication, team player mentality, responsibility, proactivity, and preparing for meetings.
What do you enjoy most about being a remote work coach?
I enjoy two things: the human rapport I have with my clients and the opportunity to actively contribute to making a difference, not only for my clients but for all the people they are connected to. Ultimately, I look at what I do as a way to improve the world we live in.
Any last advice?
Yes, I would give every remote worker a piece of advice: be curious and kind towards yourself, other people, and your inner world. Curiosity paves the way to the openness of the heart, soul, and mind. That openness makes true acceptance of ourselves, others, and life possible. Only via acceptance, we can build a remote society that can harvest the benefits of working remotely.