Dr. Amelia Reigstad: “Feelings of isolation ”

One of the main benefits of working remotely is the opportunity to increase work/life balance as many remote jobs come with flexible schedules. Having a more flexible schedule compared to the typical 9 to 5 allows for employees to have more control over their work schedule which leads to performance and productivity. Working from home […]

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One of the main benefits of working remotely is the opportunity to increase work/life balance as many remote jobs come with flexible schedules. Having a more flexible schedule compared to the typical 9 to 5 allows for employees to have more control over their work schedule which leads to performance and productivity. Working from home can allow for fewer disruptions and noise and provides opportunities for employee productivity to increase.


As a part of our series about the things you need to successfully work remotely, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Amelia Reigstad, Ph.D.

Dr. Amelia Reigstad, Ph.D. is a passionate change agent, communication consultant, and coach with nearly two decades of industry experience. She has spoken on a global scale at many professional events and conferences and has taught a variety of PR and communications courses across the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the U.K. With a passion for helping others, she consults and educates business professionals on the importance of understanding gender differences and communication styles and how this leads to more effective communication and productivity in the workplace. As the founder of The Women Empowerment Series, she inspires and encourages women to use their voices to initiate change.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

I am originally from Vancouver, B.C. Canada, with a background and education in public relations and communications. Through working in corporate settings to running my own PR consultancy and educating up-and-coming professionals as a university professor, my passion lies with helping others find their communication purpose and communicate as their authentic selves. Fast forward and I now call Minneapolis, Minnesota home where I am a sought-after expert in gender and communication and work with organizations and individuals to increase effective communication in the workplace; both personally and professionally.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One of the most interesting stories that happened since I started my career was sitting down with Canadian PR guru, Derrick Pieters at the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) national conference in Ottawa in 2013. He shared fascinating stories about his career in news media and communication and highlighted his most memorable career moment when he had the opportunity to have dinner with Edward Bernays (the founding father of modern-day PR according to many). If you were educated or work in public relations, you know how exciting that dinner would have been. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during those conversations.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was interning at a top PR agency in Vancouver, B.C. way back in the day (early 2000s), I was tasked with compiling media kits for a large event. Everything was printed and compiled into folders with a notepad and pencil included in case the media wanted to take notes during the keynote address. I forgot to sharpen the pencils. Oops!

I learned that even the most mundane tasks need 100% attention. A great life lesson!

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?

Be flexible and encourage work/life balance. If there is one thing the global pandemic has taught us is life is too short. Being flexible and encouraging work/life balance can go a long way in ensuring employees are thriving and avoiding burnout.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?

One of the main benefits of working remotely is the opportunity to increase work/life balance as many remote jobs come with flexible schedules. Having a more flexible schedule compared to the typical 9 to 5 allows for employees to have more control over their work schedule which leads to performance and productivity. Working from home can allow for fewer disruptions and noise and provides opportunities for employee productivity to increase.

Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?

Although there are benefits, working remotely can also pose challenges for employees. The five main challenges include managing and prioritizing your time, interruptions at home, lack communication and collaboration with team members, feelings of isolation, and technology issues.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?

  1. Managing and prioritizing your time — When working from home, managing and prioritizing your time becomes really critical when thinking about performance and productivity. It can be tough to get motivated and being an expert in time management is important. Overworking is also possible so sticking to a schedule can assist. Making a daily to-do list and getting the largest or most important task done first is a great way to stay on track.
  2. Interruptions at home — Remote working can be a beautiful thing but distractions such as sharing a home office, children, pets, and mundane tasks around the house can create havoc on a daily work schedule. Interruptions are bound to happen so recognize them, attend to them as needed, and then get back to work.
  3. Lack of communication and collaboration with team members — Communicating in the workplace is critical to organizational effectiveness and productivity but it can be challenging when working remotely as there isn’t a face-to-face opportunity to collaborate and build relationships. Maintaining positive working relationships in a virtual environment is necessary for employee engagement, productivity and creating a sense of normalcy in our day-to-day interactions. Make sure to check-in with colleagues, be personable and engaged in conversations and maintain a visual presence.
  4. Feelings of isolation — Feeling isolated when working remotely is a real concern especially if you don’t have family members or friends near-by. Take breaks, work at a coffee shop or co-working space once a week and participating in online networking events can really help you feel more balanced.
  5. Technology issues — Making sure you are familiar with the platform you are using is critical when communicating virtually so it doesn’t become a distraction when you are trying to connect with other people. The more we use technology and become familiar with it, the less it will take-away from the communication and work we are trying to do. If unsure of something, ask your company’s IT department for assistance so you are well-prepared to do your job.

Do you have any suggestions specifically for people who work at home? What are a few ways to be most productive when you work at home?

I have been working from home for the past 15+ months and it certainly took some getting used to. What worked for me was setting up my home office. A desk, ergonomic chair, plants, family photos, and organization trays, etc. helped me transform my extra bedroom into an office space where I could complete my daily work and feel productive. My saving grace working from home is a hard-bound planner and to-do list. As much as I love technology, I like to be able to write down my appointments and tasks and be able to cross them off upon completion. Taking a break or a quick walk around the block with my dog also assists with my productivity level and I feel more ready to finish my workday after a breath of fresh air.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic? Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

Communication is incredibly important. Understanding not only your own communication style but the communication styles of leaders and colleagues can go a long way when conflicts arise, and it also helps to build a culture of effective communication in a virtual environment.

What do you suggest can be done to create an empowering work culture and team culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

It’s really imperative to recognize how important effective communication is in the workplace and then have a plan in place to ensure there is a team culture that works for everyone. The global pandemic has shifted so much of what we do to online so paying attention to authentic communication and leadership is key as well as building trust and focus amongst the team.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a firm believer in effective workplace communication, women empowerment, and gender equality. I launched The Women Empowerment Series in 2020 that combines all three of these elements together to inspire and encourage women to use their voices to initiate change. This is a movement that I hope will continue to reach women around the globe.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Live your life to the fullest” — As cliché as this life lesson quote may be, I truly believe in it. Be flexible, adapt and modify. Be kind and considerate. Life is too short to be doing anything that doesn’t make you happy. I recently changed career paths after 15+ years of teaching at the university level to get back to my entrepreneurial roots, build my communication and coaching business and write a book –

all in order to live my life to the fullest.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn or visit www.ameliareigstad.com

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success

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