1. How did you start working remotely? How did you make the switch?
In mid-2014 I decided to take a calculated risk in leaving a great job in order to start my own business, Web Focused, working as a one-man SEO Consultancy.
I say “calculated” because I spent the year prior putting the pieces in place (e.g. choosing a business name, incorporating, setting up a bank account, etc.), so that all I needed to do when I left my job was make a few sales.
Additionally, I had built up a lot of experience in my industry – both in terms of executing the work I’d be offering, as well as actually selling it to businesses – so I was confident I’d be able to make it work.
2. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?
- Flexible schedule – not only for convenience reasons, but because it allows me to work when and I where I feel I’ll be the most productive for a particular task. Going to the gym at 2pm and having the place mostly to myself doesn’t suck either 🙂
- Location independent – I don’t travel as frequently as a lot of other remoters, but working remotely has allowed me to live and work in places like San Diego from Jan. – Mar. when the weather is brutal in Chicago, which is where I’m from (to my friends and family: sorry, I’m not sorry!).
- Productivity – this definitely takes some practice, but working remotely (i.e. outside of a typical office setting) allows me to work much more efficiently due to the lack of distractions. Put differently, I find I’m able to get more work done in less time than I did in an office setting.
- Commute – I’ve been fortunate to have relatively easy commutes at my previous jobs, but in general the 1 – 3 hours per day you save in travel can be a pretty big win.
3. Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?
As others have stated, I do miss face-to-face interactions, in-person collaborations, and just office/co-worker banter in general.
Working remotely definitely requires extra levels of discipline and pro-activity, both in terms of getting work done, as well as maintaining current relationships and building new ones. In an office setting these things just happen naturally, whereas when working remotely you really need to go out of your way to make them happen.
4. From which cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? Which has been your favorite one?
My home base is Chicago IL and I’ve worked from San Diego CA, Los Angeles CA, Austin TX, Nashville TN, and Charleston SC.
I enjoy visiting different cities and getting the “full” experience where I leave feeling like I really got to know the area, the people, and the culture.
I don’t know that I could pick a favorite, but San Diego is definitely amazing in the Winter. Being from the Midwest, I just never knew Winter could be so pleasant!
5. From which type of place do you prefer to work? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others? Do you have any specific place?
I work from home about 70% of the time and coffee shops the other 30%. I have an embarrassingly organized spreadsheet of all the Chicago coffee shops I’ve worked from, along with notes and thoughts on each. If you’re ever in the Chicagoland area feel free to reach out and I’ll be happy to recommend a few!
6. Which places would you like to travel to while working remotely?
Denver CO and Seattle WA are at the top of my list of US cities to visit, and I’m also considering some smaller southern towns for this upcoming Winter (although realistically, I’ll probably just end up back in San Diego 🙂
Europe, and specifically parts of Italy and Greece, are at the top of my list for international travel.
7. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?
I would say there are definitely pros and cons and that the “success” of a remote worker depends largely on the individual, as well as the type of work they’ll be doing.
Some of the bigger things I see on the pros side are:
- Significant cost savings on office space, furniture and equipment, etc,
- Employee satisfaction which in turn reduces turnover, and
- An increase in productivity – again, depending largely on the person.
I would also say… try it out! Especially if you have an existing reason to, such as expanding your talent pool, keeping an existing employee happy, or accommodating clients or other business partners in different cities and/or time zones.
8. Which tools do you use to work remotely?
- G Suite for all the basic stuff like email, calendar, shared docs and sheets, etc.
- Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) for probably 90% of my client deliverables.
- Photoshop for anything design related.
- Zoom for conference calls (unless a client has another preference).
- Harvest for invoicing and Bluepay for billing.
- And then a bunch of SEO specific software such as SEMrush, Moz, and Screaming Frog.
9. How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?
Taxes? What are those?!
Most of my revenue and expenses are on my business credit card and checking account (Chase), and anything that comes through my personal credit/checking I keep track of in a simple Excel doc. I then turn it all over to a small accounting firm at the end of the year to prepare and submit my returns.
10. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies making the remote switch?
Try working from home 1 or 2 days per week for several weeks before going “all in”. This gives the opportunity for both the employee and the company to evaluate the effectiveness of working remote.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen people beg their bosses to work remotely only to realize they don’t like it and/or have a hard time being productive. It’s definitely not for everyone, but with the right people in the right positions it can benefit both parties.
My two biggest tips for the remote worker:
- Do some experimenting to learn when (what times) and where (home, coffee shop, etc.) you are the most productive. Then, do everything you can to reserve that time-frame for your most important tasks.
- Try working in focused, uninterrupted blocks of time (90 – 120 mins) with small breaks in between. During your work blocks, remove all distractions including phone, email, chat, social media, etc. During your breaks, do something to completely “detach” from work. Go on a walk, eat a healthy snack, meditate, read a fiction book, etc.
I absolutely love working remotely and I know a lot of others do to. If it’s something that appeals to you I definitely recommend giving it a shot!
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