Interview: Eric Lander

Eric Lander

Eric Lander is Director of SEO & Content Marketing at d50 media and works remotely. You can read more at his Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

1. How did you start working remotely? How did you make the switch?

d50 Media logoI had worked for d50 Media for nearly six years when I made the switch. Driving more than 3.5 hours each day to and from the office, it was clear that I had no work life balance to speak of. It got to the point that I had tried to optimize my schedule around traffic and commuting – waking each day by 4AM just to be in the office before traffic doubled my commute times.

I was exhausted, stressed, had no meaningful time with my family and missed out on a lot that was happening around me. As a family, we made the decision to relocate to a different part of the country and bought a house with a dedicated home office to eliminate those factors.

2. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?

Focus. As someone who has always wrestled with focus and discipline, the lack of visitors to my work area and general disruptions around the office have significantly helped my ability to dedicate my attention to the task at hand. Our industry is always changing, and with more time in the day, I feel more connected to the industry, have more knowledge of how to apply new practices – and feel more confident in my work output.

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

Of course. Within our group of companies, face to face conversations and meetings are quite effective. In person it’s easy to read a room, know who is attentive (and who has checked out) and do little things like share sketches, ideas and be part of idle conversations that build camaraderie.

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

Hampstead, NC is the only location I’ve worked remote – except for a short stint of time from hotels when we had to evacuate due to a recent hurricane. While it’s the only location, it’s still an easy favorite as I have been able to make the environment suit me and my work habits quite well.

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

Throughout the years and even in other positions, I’ve had to travel quite a bit.

Coworking spaces generally aren’t my favorite because for the local “regulars,” a new face often means that there’s a lot of new conversations that will take place. While it’s great to meet new people, if I’m paying for the work environment – I want to be able to focus and get work done.

My most productive environments tend to be those where there is a lot of activity surrounding me – like airports and cafes. There is a physical energy that makes me want to work more efficiently and the background noise and activity forces my brain to focus on the work I need to get done.

I also love the fact that others can sometimes see what you may be doing on your computer, for example, so there’s no temptation to load up social media, spend time on reddit, sports sites, etc. 🙂

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

England and Southeast Asia. I’ve always wanted to go to both, and if there were ever opportunities to do so while being able to work and stay productive – I’d jump at that chance.

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

Uncommitted employees will find ways to distract themselves anywhere they sit. I have also seen plenty of evidence to support the argument that traditional offices foster far more distractive behaviors in group settings than independant work environments.

Supporting an employee to work remotely emphasizes the trust that you have in that employee. In return, it’s human nature to want to pay that back – and for me personally – I find that the confidence and quality of my own work has significantly improved since becoming a “remoter.” I don’t ever want for someone to feel like they’ve made the wrong choice by supporting my move to work remotely.

8. Which tools do you use to work remotely?

Slack, email, and JIRA are the most functional in our standard work. We have several other resources made available through our VPN as well – so staying “connected” to the home office is never an issue.

With regards to industry tools and resources, my toolbox consists of several web based tools (that can also be used by the home office) including SpyFu, MOZ, SEMRush, and every marketing related Google service there is.

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

Our organization handled this seamlessly for me by reconfiguring payroll to account for state based personal income taxes in North Carolina. Since I don’t plan to travel regularly, we treat my home office as a satellite location and represent it accordingly.

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

Find a way to stay organized, and stick to it. I rely on bullet journaling a lot – and append a daily diary to keep track of conversations, follow-up items and things I talk about with others. I then push that into Evernote so that I can easily tag and find notes on the last time I talked with someone.

If I look at my calendar and know that we’re having a conversation in 15 minutes, for example, you can expect that I’ll be ready to pick up where we last left off.

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