Interview to Esteve Castells Calpe

Esteve Castells Calpe is SEO, and at the moment, focused on leading a team which means I have a little bit less time for hands-on work than before but he stills love to spend a big chunk of his time in the trenches. He works at Adevinta, a global marketplace company with HQ in Barcelona. And he is the Global Head of SEO and leads a team of 11, both SEO managers and a global product team focused on building SaaS SEO & SEM technology for Adevinta teams and products. You can find more information about him on his site, Twitter or Linkedin.

Esteve Castells1. How did you started working remotely? How did you make the switch?:

I started doing some remote way before the pandemic, at my first job at Softonic it was allowed to do it once per week. I tasted a bit of it but at the time I didn’t find it so compelling because most people were in the office so you always felt you were missing on something or it was difficult to participate in meetings without a culture of remote.

With the pandemic, everything became different and now everyone knows what remote is. I have been doing full remote since the pandemic though now I visit the office occasionally, one day every week or two on average. I still like a lot the social contact so it’s great to have some in-person time with the team.

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

Flexibility for everyone is very important, especially for people with kids but not limited to. I like having flexibility myself since running errands or going to the doctor becomes much easier.

In terms of work output I feel just having that increases the happiness of several of the team members and overall I never noticed an impact on productivity. I think overall if you have clear guidelines and goals, it’s difficult to have it go wrong in tech companies where people are paid well and usually are motivated. I imagine it’s not the same effect in the public administration but that’s just my guess 😀

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

Long term I am a firm believer that the lack of social connection is a big issue for teams. I really enjoy seeing the team in person and I believe is a fundamental point for keeping people engaged and not feeling work too transactional. It can happen and it’s not that great.

4. From what cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? What are your favorite ones?:

I mostly work from my home in Arenys de Mar (Barcelona), that being said, I have worked from many different locations in Europe, and also more remote places such as Rio de Janeiro or New York.

My favourite place to work from is my own room at home – the Man Cave ™️! I even have a plate in the door!

5. From what type of places do you prefer to work? Home, coworking spaces, coffee shops or others? Do you have any specific place?:

For a brief period of time I do not mind working from anywhere, mostly airports are my usual or also sometimes friend’s homes or family members. But in general, I like to be in my setup with my webcam, mic and so on.

I am not a picky person so I don’t mind the noise and my Bose headphones have very great noise cancellation so not a problem to work from busy places.

Adevinta’s offices both in Barcelona or other countries are also great places to work from. I especially like the Barcelona office because it’s big and spacious and generally, very chill and noiseless.

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

I would like to visit Denmark (or any other Nordic country) this year and work from there for a month or so 🙂 I have never been to any of the nordics and would like to experience it first hand for a while!

7. What advice would you give to overcome the main challenges of working remotely? Share your remote productivity, communication, management, etc. tips based on your experience!:

1. Having your own setup where you feel comfortable, a space that is yours and scared
2. Invest in a good chair, good devices such as webcam or mic
3. Have a routine
4. Obvious now but it wasn’t pre-Covid, don’t work in your pijamas
5. Set boundaries too, don’t work crazy hours
6. Have a plant in your office – ideally a cactus or a carnivorous plant
7. Try to be in a place that has natural light, as much as possible

8. What tools do you use and are your favorites to work remotely?:

I use a bunch of tools but here are some of my favorites:

1. Slack – obvious one and great way to connect, but requires discipline to not get out of hand
2. Trello – I organise everything in this app and it’s free!
3. Notion – I tried a few different ones but Notion is my fav now! I have to say I am not a heavy user but use it regularly
4. ExpressVPN – It’s my VPN and it works pretty great for remoting when you’re abroad
5. Bitwarden – great password management tool

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

In this case this is managed by my company, that being said, Wise is a great tool for everything financial and also a great tool to use for traveling abroad and having great exchange rates.

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

Just do it! But also have rituals and commitment to have some time in person every few months, unless you want a soulless team without motivation and commitment in the long run 🙂

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