We had an interview today for our new Support Developer role, and an interesting question was asked. “What is the hardest part of working at iwantmyname?”
Other people in the company may have different opinions, but to me, the hardest part is also the most attractive part – remote working. In many ways, remote working is a dream. I can wake up when I want, not get dressed if I don’t feel like it, and schedule my day around baby naps and dog walks. Arbitrary meetings and “team-building activities” are kept to a bare minimum, and perhaps best of all, if I get tired of my desk at home, I can go work at any coffee shop, coworking space, park bench, or restaurant I feel like. Coming from an industry that demanded constant time tracking and meetings, remote working is as good as it gets.
But like most things, remote working also has its negatives. From a getting-things-done perspective, it’s certainly harder to tackle large projects when the group isn’t in the same room. Things still get done, and there are a thousand online tools to help with collaboration, but nothing beats turning around in a little swivel chair with a new idea, then heading over to a white board to map it out. Much like Google’s load time experiment, the longer it takes to go from idea to conversation, the less likely it is that people will be vocal with their thoughts (I don’t have any science to back that up, but it’s true for me on a personal level).
Then comes the cabin fever that inevitably comes with any remote job. If you’re going to be a successful remote worker, you have to A. generally not like human interaction, or B. be good about getting out of the house. I fall into the B category. For me to stay sane, I regularly seek out the coffee shops that attract people like myself, and I plan lunches with people I know as often as possible. Most major cities also have coworking spaces for remote workers, and tech/creative people are incredibly good at cultivating communities through things like Creative Mornings and Startup Weekends, so if you’re feeling isolated, get involved.
The hardest thing to overcome though is apathy. When you start to feel isolated and progress feels like it’s going too slow for your liking, apathy is a hard virus to kick. As a remote worker, you’ll inevitably experience it from time to time (especially when the news of the world makes you want to give up on the planet and move to Mars), so you have to learn to keep things in perspective. Remind yourself that it’s a work day and you’re free to go about your business however you please. That eye-roll-inducing office culture everyone talks about isn’t even on your radar, and you most likely won’t have that terrible boss demanding TPS reports on Mondays. If you’re patient and work hard, just like any other job, your voice will be heard. And guess what? To be heard as a remote worker, you probably don’t have to be the loudest person in the room. You can just drop an idea into your group chat, follow it up with a killer gif, and let it bloom.
If you know me personally, you probably know that picking holes in things is practically my favorite hobby. But any company that can cultivate a positive remote working environment is a company that should be celebrated. So to our interviewee, that about sums up my complete thoughts on the matter. Remote working can be a real pain in the ass, and you’ll definitely have those weeks where you might have an extra dinner beer, but working at iwantmyname truly is wonderful, and our insanely low turnover rate is a testament to how much the company is willing to adapt to making each of our remote-working lives as good as they can be.