Interview to Jill Felska

Jill Felska is the founder of Want to Work There, You can find her on Linkedin, Facebook, or Instagram.

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

Believe it or not, it was all the way back in 2010. I took the biggest leap of my life quitting my 9-5 at a globally known PR agency to start my own consultancy with my amazing friend Jenn Korducki-Krenn. We went from working out of a huge high-rise building in downtown Chicago to both working from our own small apartments.

I will never forget taking my first client call while wearing pajamas. Zoom wasn’t really a thing back then, so it was all phone communication. After dressing up in a pencil skirt and heels to go into the office and sit on similar calls alone in a windowless office, the joy of sipping coffee in comfortable clothes while light poured in through my windows was downright euphoric.

It was the first time I realized that we didn’t need to be in the same room (or wear super uncomfortable skirts) to do incredible work and I’ve never looked back.

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

Flexibility. For me, I need a balance between home and coworking settings. Sometimes I need to be at home and shut everything out and focus, and sometimes I really need the energy and inspiration of working near others.

Also, I will never give up the perk of being able to grocery shop at odd hours. As someone with ADHD who hates crowds, that ability to go to the store when it’s way less crowded is a perk I will never take for granted!

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

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about Gen Z and what they are potentially missing out on by not being in an office. As humans, we tend to conform to the spaces around us by observing. Many make the argument that GenZ are missing out on a lot of this growth by working remotely.

I’d argue they are also missing out on picking up on a lot of bad behaviors – which is a good thing! Remote work forces us to be really intentional about the way we do things. The way we collaborate. The way we communicate. It forces us to rethink how things have always been done and I don’t think there’s any bigger gift than that.

Yes, there are days when I don’t want to work in isolation at home, but that’s where amazing co-working spaces and coffee shops come in. And the best part is that I’m in control of when and how I use them. No one is dictating that for me.

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

San Diego was a dream. I met the most amazing group of strong women who were all working on some kind of solopreneur project. Between those wonderful women, a thriving tech and startup scene, and tons of independent, cool coworking spaces (along with views of the ocean, naturally), San Diego was a wonderful place to start Want to Work There.

Since then, I’ve worked from every corner of the country, and now reside in Austin TX. I’m not sure where my adventures will take me next, but I have all the options – and there’s nothing better than that!

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

I’m currently renting a 1-bedroom apartment with a den that I’ve made into my office. I’ve done everything in my power to make it both cozy and energizing. I’m surrounded by lots of books (some of my favorite possessions) and lots of brightly colored pens and notebooks. Every morning I light a candle, which is my body’s cue that I’m working.

Besides my home office, I frequent a couple of amazing coffee shops here in Austin, including Radio Coffee, Meanwhile Brewing, and Cosmic Coffee. I also LOVE working from BookPeople, an independent bookstore with a coffee shop tucked in the back. I’ve also recently discovered a new coworking space that I’m excited about called the Cathedral ATX. It’s built in an old church and houses the largest woman and non-binary collection of art in Texas. They have a two-day-a-week pass that is perfect for me.

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

I love spending longer periods of time around my hometown in Minnesota. It’s comforting to be able to go home for a month at a time, soak up all my family and old friends, and still get work done.

My next big goal is to buy a lake house there so I can spend 3-5 months a year on the lake and be close to so many people I love.

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!:

I use coworking time with friends on Zoom to knock out things I’ve been procrastinating on. I also invest in my home office: I have a cute desk, a comfortable chair, and glasses to help with blue light. Take the time to make your space comfortable and energizing so you can do your best work.

As someone with ADHD, it can absolutely be hard to focus. I bought a visual timer that sits next to me. When I’m struggling to get something done, I’ll set the timer for 30 minutes and get to work. There is something about the visualization of the time that does wonders for me.

Most recently, I’ve started physically writing down the three things I must get done each day in a notebook. While I track everything via, this clarity has helped me focus. Plus I cross them off with a neon pink sharpie when I finish – and who doesn’t love that dopamine hit!

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

I use ALL the SaaS tools to make my life easier. I use Calendly for appointment setting, Loom for training and feedback, Canva for design, for project management, Notion for documentation, and countless more to help me manage my business.

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

I’ve hired someone to do my taxes for at least the last six years. It’s just not a strength of mine, which makes it totally worth the cost of outsourcing, in my opinion.

However, this is the first year I’m hiring a bookkeeper! As my business grows, it’s a huge relief that I won’t be sitting down and trying to make sense of a huge amount of data come tax time. Instead someone will help me tame it month by month!

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

I’d say intentionality is the key to successfully building a strong remote work culture.

You have to be incredibly intentional when it comes to:

  • How work gets done.
  • Where information is stored.
  • What communication styles work best.
  • Building trust with your team.

Know that there will be some trial and error – and that’s OK! Keep learning. Keep growing. And “steal” from people who’ve been there, done that.
Ali Green & Tam Sanderson just released a fantastic new book called Remote Works. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Remote-first companies like Gitlab, Automattic, and Zapier have all publicly documented lessons they’ve learned over the years.
You can also find a growing collection of resources for building great remote work culture on my site, Want To Work There.
However you prepare, just know it’s worth it and you can do it!

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