Working from Wherever (That Conf 2016)

Working from Wherever (That Conf 2016)

** Talk given at That Conference August 8, 2016 in Wisconsin Dells, WI. This is an updated version from the original one given in August 2014 at 360iDev. **

What happens when you love where you live but really want that perfect job that happens to be in another city or maybe even country? Move? That’s so 2002. Being a remote worker in the technology field is continuing to be a common occurrence when employers are looking for talent. Some companies like Basecamp, Buffer, Olark, Automattic (, and Mozilla are nearly 100% distributed and everyone works from wherever they want, whenever they want. There are challenges surrounding working for a company remotely that is a traditional business as well as working for a completely distributed organization. Not everyone can work remote and there are issues surrounding staying motivated, inspired, and feeling like you’re part of a real team. I’m going to share some of the challenges I’ve gone through as a remote worker and walk you through what I’ve had to do to cope and change as a person.


Aaron Douglas

August 08, 2016


  1. WORKING FROM WHEREVER Make Work Less Stabby

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  4. WHO I AM ➤ Aaron Douglas ➤ Milwaukee, WI USA

    ➤ Mobile Maker for Automattic ( ➤ Remote full time 3+ years ➤ @astralbodies
  5. YOU WANT TO WORK REMOTE You’ve decided to be in

    this talk because you are working remote or want to. [SHOW OF HANDS] How many work remote already [SHOW OF HANDS] How many want to work remote What type of remote? Maybe you want to work remote where you are? Or find a remote job?
  6. REMOTE WHERE YOU ARE NOW Which may or may not

    be possible Company policies, security protocols
  7. CONVINCE THE BOSS First step is to convince the boss

    Show them they get more productivity & happier employees One day a week like Fridays
  8. CONVINCE YOUR COWORKERS They need to support the idea I

    never wanted to be “that guy” where everyone had to pick up my slack
  9. DON’T BECOME SECOND CLASS The real key is to not

    let yourself become second class There’s a great quote from Jason Fried
  10. “ Feeling like a second-class worker doesn’t take much. Case

    in point: a roomful of local people and a shitty intercom system that makes it hard for the remote worker to hear what’s going on and even harder to participate. There’s also the annoyance of having every debate end with “John and I talked about this in the office yesterday and decided that your idea isn’t going to work.” F*** that. – from Remote by Jason Fried
  11. REMOTE AT A NEW PLACE Sometimes its easier to just

    find a new job Even if they don’t have a remote program it can be part of a job offer But how do you find a good remote job?




  16. TRUST The key is working for a place that trusts

    its workers to be adults and self-directed.
  17. WHY WORK REMOTELY? Maybe you’re not entirely convinced remote work

    is for you. There are a lot of benefits
  18. LOCATION / RELOCATION Why get up and move your home

    for a job that may not work out Make the job come to you
  19. REDUCE DISTRACTIONS Have more control over your environment - you

    work how you want to Remote quote: When everyone is sitting in the same office, it’s easy to fall into the habit of bothering anyone for anything at any time, with no regard for personal productivity.
  20. COMMUTING 1 hour each direction, 260 days out of the

    year, over 21 DAYS worth of commuting Reduce gas, car maintenance, parking, stress Mention the power of 5 minutes idea
  21. HOME Make your office what you want it to be

    Separate room if possible try not to use the room for non work
  22. FLEXIBILITY Work the hours you need Effort doesn’t necessarily mean

    40 hours PTO
  23. ABILITY Disabilities - cluster headaches, environmental issues & sensitivities

  24. CHALLENGES Working remote sounds magical There are challenges with remote

  25. INFORMATION OVERLOAD Email overload Multiple channels, too much information to

  26. ATTENTION While some distractions are eliminated, you have nothing but

    yourself to tend to Ooh shiny Facebook, Twitter, email, IM, phone calls
  27. LONELINESS At some point you will miss other humans Becoming

    a shut-in isn’t the right way to work
  28. VISIBILITY How to go up the ladder without being seen

    by coworkers
  29. COMMUNICATION It is the foundation of remote working Advances in

    technology and Internet speeds make this possible Several types or channels of communication that have to be in place to be successful
  30. SYNCHRONOUS Instant message, Screen sharing, telephone calls Chat - IRC,

    HipChat, Slack
  31. ASYNCHRONOUS There are times where you can’t pay attention to

    chatter E-mail, Forums, Blogs Ticketing - GitHub, JIRA
  32. VIRTUAL WATERCOOLER Need to have a way to gab Animated

    GIFs, cat pictures WHAT THIS ALL COMES DOWN TO is when the communication is good your brain will start forming memories about conversations with coworkers; you’ll have a hard time distinguishing the difference.

  34. KEEPING YOURSELF FOCUSED RescueTime, Pomodoro, Turning shit off

  35. DISORDERS ADHD, Medication My story

  36. WORKSPACE You need to be able to control your workspace

  37. ERGONOMICS Be aware of ergonomics - you’re sitting on your

    ass all day get a good chair
  38. EMPLOYERS SHOULD INVEST Most good remote companies will pay for

    your desk, chair
  39. LOOK AT NEW OPTIONS Standing Desks, Treadmill Desks Nobody is

    watching, so be active - dance at your desk!
  40. OVER-SPEC EVERYTHING Get the equipment you need for the future

  41. PLAN FOR DOWNTIME Internet goes down - MiFi, Power goes

    out, bad weather
  42. BACK UP TWICE Or More Offsite backup

  43. COMBATTING LONELINESS You will discover more about yourself than you

    ever expected It’s great to be alone for a few months then you need human input
  44. COFFEE SHOPS Easiest way to get out is to just

    work at a coffee shop Bring Internet with :) - One guy works out of their RV
  45. CO-WORKING SPACES Work with other people remotely, not together but

    around Some coworking spaces are subject-oriented SITES
  46. DESK RENTAL Companies buy too much space and rent desks

    out SITES
  47. LIBRARIES Some of the best spaces to work are libraries

    Limited on carry-ins but great for focus Smell of books
  48. MEETUPS Meet people you work with Grand meetup, team meetup

  49. HEALTH Both physical and mental health are important It’s easy

    to sit on your ass It’s also easy to eat everything in your house.
  50. FOOD Buy groceries and keep healthy things in the house

    Brain food - nuts, cheese, high protein, healthy snacks Peapod, other delivery services
  51. EXERCISE Reset your brain Track your activity to make sure

    you’re regular FitBit, Nike Fuelband, Up
  52. BURRITO FRIDAY Have a splurge Gets you out of the

    house and it’s something to hold in mind
  53. ITERATE Keep trying new things. Move on if they don’t

    work. Make a record of what you’ve attempted.

  55. RESOURCES There are a ton of resources out there

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  57. WEBSITES ➤ Remote Jobs List - ➤ WorkFrom -

    Coworking Places - ➤ We Work Remotely (job board) - ➤ The Dangling Pointer (my blog) - This
  58. AARON DOUGLAS @astralbodies

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