Interview with Thomas Petit

Thomas PetitThomas Petit is a remote based growth freelance. You can find him in twitter and LinkedIn.

1. How did you started working remotely?

I started working remotely at a previous company while being a full-time employee, and I’m very thankful to the CEO at the time as this was a fairly unique opportunity. I personally wanted to change location and felt it was gonna be professionally positive for me on the long term. The switch was fairly smooth, more than I imagined first.

First I started working remotely for limited periods of time, so everyone could see it pretty much changed nothing. Then I moved location permanently, keeping the same position, and finally completed the transition by working on my own business on a full remote basis. Smooth and very positive transition overall

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

Some might see a costs interest (daily life, taxes etc), personally it’s all about productivity. No useless commute is 1-2h a day extra (!) which sums up to massive amount of time, imagine having an extra work day. There are less distractions, a lot of time saved by not attending countless meetings at HQ, many of which bring nothing. I’m a fairly social person in my private life, but the time I don’t spend chit-chatting at the coffee machine I’m happy to spread between more work and more spare time in a way I choose myself. Big wins.

There are also some positive personal considerations like escaping winter, eating healthier at home, spending more time with my family, discovering new locations, avoiding routine boredom, etc.

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

I’m not really missing out anything, at least not yet. There are for sure positions where being located with your team is key. In what I do punctual visits & remote comms are more than enough, so I see very little drawbacks personally. One of the reason a company I was at was reluctant on building a remote team was to foster internal culture, so there’s that but I don’t feel it’s something I’m lacking currently.

Another possible issue could be timezone, but most my business relationships are in Europe, and besides I also had timezone issue when no remote (mostly Europe/US comms). Maybe the only thing I would like to have back would be afterwork drinks with colleagues, but that’s definitely not a critical need and one that I can fulfil when visiting occasionally or even inviting colleagues to visit, which is fairly easy where I live.

4. From which cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote?

I have my main base in Mallorca, Spain, and regularly travel to see both clients and friends across Europe (Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, London, Marseille, Paris, Praga…). I’m a big fan of both Madrid & Barcelona, but being there only at times is what suits me best.

5. From which type of place do you prefer to work?

I can’t really be fully productive in coffee shops, and many times don’t enjoy much the environment of hip coworking spaces (nor old school ones!). I also miss having my own setup (screen/keyboard) there and sometimes private place for calls. Besides my own place, I’m lucky enough to have many startup friends who would let me use their office space when traveling, which I find most productive for my own work and eye-opening to many startup cultures.

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

I’m thinking about doing longer trip(s) than I the short stays I do currently. For instance I’m considering moving to Mexico a few months at the end of the year. There’s a bunch of other places I keep on a list, including Colombia, Portugal, Panama & the Canary Island as well as a bunch of smaller places around the Mediterranean sea. Let’s see what the future will bring!

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

I’m not one to try to evangelize remote working to everyone, and I don’t think it fits every company and individual either. It just has to flow with culture and personality, so I understand some are reluctant about it and wouldn’t battle much about it. That said, I also believe many companies who are fundamentally against it lack trust in their employees and experience with committed remote workers. If you don’t trust your people to be their best, why did you even hire them? Monitoring presence time is a total waste of time. Only the outcome matters.

8. Which tools do you use to work remotely?

My stack is fairly common and not very specific to remoters. For communications, I adapt to those used by my clients without much personal preference, that would include mostly.

Nothing fancy here, I don’t believe the tools have much impact if you have the right habits/attitude.

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

I’m an independent in Spain (“autonomo”) and found it fairly easy to register and declare invoices, taxes etc despite some horror stories I had heard before. Maybe having seen the French & German systems had me used to a very high standard of bureaucracy… My business & tax setup isn’t the cheapest by far, but it can be self managed and comes with the benefit of excellent life quality, so I’m happy with that trade off. I currently don’t feel the need for much tooling either but might try some new ones anyways.

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

Just try it. See by yourself if it works for you. Besides looking for full remote jobs and freelancing, I would simply recommend to ask for it internally, offering some sort of non committing testing period to prove they can do not only as good, but actually more and better by living in their own environment.

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