Interview: James Nylen

James Nylen

James in Iguazu Falls

James Nylen is from the USA and he is a software developer. He works primarily on the open-source code for the WordPress project, and most of the work that he does is therefore open to the public to see and collaborate on, which is pretty cool, he tell us. For example, he recently led the 4.7.3 release of WordPress from Buenos Aires.

He works for Automattic.  And he wants to take advantage to tell us: pick our own titles, currently mine is “JSON Wrangler”.  And yes, we are hiring :).  You can find him on Facebook or see their travels on his website.

1. How did you started working remotely? How did you do the switch?

I was working as an actuary for an insurance company and decided that I wanted to find a job with a more flexible schedule so that I could work the hours of my choosing and travel while working.

2.Which are the main advantages that you find that remote work has?

Schedule and location flexibility. Ability to find a working environment and style that works for you individually. Freedom in general.

3. Do you think you have disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

Yes, definitely – it’s easy to miss human interaction in real life, which is really important. While traveling especially, it can also be difficult to continue working productively.

4. From which cities or countries have you worked from since you have become remote? Which has been your favourite one?

Portland and a couple other places in Oregon; London; Amsterdam; Venice; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago; Tamarindo, Costa Rica; Vancouver; Medellín and a couple other places in Colombia; New Orleans; Buenos Aires. More to come, and I’m probably forgetting a few 🙂
Too difficult to name a favorite! I’ve enjoyed them all in different ways.

5. From which type of place do you prefer to work from? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others?

I like coffee shops, especially if they also serve food / drinks / sell books and things like that. Usually, I prefer local cafés with a very “homestyle” decor, where it is clear that the owners have put a lot of time and energy into taking care of the place.
But as long as the WiFi is good and it’s not too loud, I can work from anywhere. I also quite enjoy working on airplanes, oddly enough.

6. Which places would you like to travel to while working remotely or working from?

More countries in Latin America and Europe, more places in Canada, and I still haven’t been to Asia at all. Open to suggestions 🙂

7. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?

Remote working is an amazing benefit, and you will open up a whole new pool of talent (worldwide!) by supporting your employees with this option. In terms of personality, I would say that remote workers are more likely to have an unconventional approach to life in general, which carries through well to solving problems at work.
However, there are definitely things to watch out for. For example, it would be pretty easy for a company to start a remote work program which inadvertently creates two classes of employees. If a lot of meetings and interactions are still happening in the office, then remote workers could easily be “left out” of important decisions.

8. Which tools do you use to work remotely?

Slack, Slack, Slack. Zoom.us for video calls.  For work tracking, there are lots of options, but at Automattic we make heavy use of p2 blogs.  GitHub is also excellent for collaborating on software projects.

9. How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?

This is a lot easier for me than for someone working freelance. There is always plenty of stuff to do at my company, and I know how to find it by talking to people and/or by using our public or internal tools for task tracking. Taxes aren’t so bad either, my employer takes care of that through standard payroll deductions and for the most part I just have to file a normal tax return.

10. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies doing the remote switch?

People looking to work remotely: Technology continues to open amazing opportunities for us, but when you’re working remotely you need to make sure that you still interact with people in real life and continue working productively. You can join groups for your hobbies outside of work (digital nomad / traveling groups is a good one!) I’d also recommend tracking your time or just a basic list of what you do each day.

Companies doing the remote switch: Make sure you have self-motivated employees and a culture of trust. Of course, these are good things in general but there is inherently less supervision for remote work. Make sure remote workers can fully participate in all parts of the company. In my opinion fully distributed companies are the best way to achieve this.

One Comment

  1. Great interview. Thanks for shedding some good ideas on this nomadic mind!

    JJ Ruescas
    4 April, 2017 Reply

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