Kelvin Newman runs brightonSEO, probably the largest search marketing conference in the world. Twice a year thousands of people from around the world come to Brighton, on the south coast of the UK, to meet, learn, and do their jobs a bit better: “We organise a day of training workshops before the conference plus social events and fringe events such as the Paid Social Show and MeasureFest”.
Kelvin manages a small core team of employees and freelancers that grows temporarily in the run-up to each event: “Everyone involved in putting together brightonSEO works remotely even though lots of us are located near Brighton. Often the only time we see each other in person is at the conferences!”
1. How did you started working remotely?
We experimented with having an office for a while but we realised that no one enjoyed their commute, people were often out at meetings or working from home for the day so it wasn’t worth it. We scrapped the office and I moved into an office in my garden so my daily commute is a lot easier.
2. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?
I like being in charge of choosing the music for my office.
Additionally it just makes sense for us. People can do their jobs from wherever it suits them best, whenever it suits them best. Technology makes it easy to stay in touch and share information. Why drag people into the same room every day if you don’t need to? Companies like Basecamp have talked about the benefits of remote working and drawbacks of a physical office and I agree that it fits our culture where we trust people to get on with things and do great work.
3. Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?
Sometimes it can mean that I’m at work when I’m not as there isn’t such a strong separation between work and home. I try to ignore the temptation to check on things on my phone too much or work on my sofa in the evenings. The flipside of that is that I can go mountain biking whenever I want to during the day so it seems like a fair trade most of the time!
4. From what cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote?
I recently converted my garage into an office at home in Worthing, just along the coast from Brighton, but being set up for remote work means I can keep working when I travel to other conferences around the world.
5. From what type of place do you prefer to work?
Most of the time I work from my home office which is often full of things I’m ‘testing’ for future events or ‘storing’ from past events like a retro arcade machine or a t-shirt cannon.
If I fancy some company I can drop into the offices of one of our founding partners or do the cliched coffee shop thing.
6. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?
Why not? There are so many examples of how it can work but you have to embrace it – this isn’t just letting someone work from home occasionally. Obviously it won’t suit every job in every industry but I’d encourage people to give it a try.
7. What tools do you use to work remotely?
We use Asana to keep track of who is doing what, G Suite for collaborating on files (brightonSEO runs on a billion spreadsheets!) and Dropbox for sharing artwork and photos.
8. How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?
We use Xero for our accounts. We’re also lucky to have a finance manager and accountant from our sister company we use. We work with them remotely as well, though they’re perhaps less accustomed to it.
9. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies making the remote switch?
Give it a proper try. We’re seeing more and more brightonSEO attendees and companies that work remotely and I expect the trend to increase. The modern world makes working remotely so easy and the concept of making everyone sit in the same building when there are alternatives is looking outdated.