On The Road With Support Manager, Jon Clemens
One of the perks of working in technology, is that it lends so many tools that allows us to connect with our colleagues and clients from anywhere in the world. I decided to put that last statement to test, and in November packed up my things in London and began travelling and working 100% remotely.
I started out by traveling through southwestern Ontario and then heading off to Europe in January. This is where I write to you, today. It’s been very exciting to see the world while still remaining connected with my colleagues in our daily stand-ups and in our company messaging.
Tools and Strategies for working remotely
Here are some of the tools and strategies that have helped me stay connected to work, and to my clients.
My role as support manager is to work with our support team serving clients after site launch. We use Zendesk, an industry standard tool that our customers use to report issues, or ask questions about their websites. With my current schedule, Fridays through Mondays are my 'travel' days, and the other days are work days. With Zendesk, the team back home is able to get a complete look at all of our issues the two days of the business week I am not available. Our clients experience no interruption in service.
Slack has been an amazing tool to keep me connected with the Digital Echidna team. I use it a lot differently now than when I did while in the same office as my colleagues. Back then, it was a message system more than anything. Now, I use the handy screen sharing function to easily demonstrate client issues to my teammates. I also use Slack to connect every morning with the support development manager in the London office. We go over all of the tickets and make sure clients are covered. The ability to make “slack calls” has also been amazing, because calling internationally is definitely one of the biggest hurdles of working remotely.
A Time Zone Strategy
It is true that I am not the first person who works remote for Echidna. But, I am somewhat unique in that my ongoing travel plans involve lots of different time zones. So, I did agree that I would always keep work hours to the E.S.T. timezone, the same timezone as London, Canada. When I am in England this means I work 2 p.m. - 10 p.m., when I am in France it means 3 p.m.- 11 p.m., and so on. For my employer and colleagues, this strategy means they can count on me to be available and in communication with as little disruption to teams as possible. The perk for me, is that I have whole mornings to myself and had the time to go to the Tower of London, Notre Dame, and many other must-see places. It is now not unusual that I will have walked 15 k.m. before I sit down at the keyboard to ‘start’ the day.
A Good Cell Phone Battery
You’ll want to make sure that you have lots of battery life for that lifeline of yours. I opted to get a cellphone case with a battery in it so that I could charge it no matter where I was, and didn’t have to carry another cable to charge it. Which brings me to my next point...
Bring Lots of Electronic Adapters
If you are working outside North America, like I am, don’t forget adaptors. You are going to want good adapters to cover all of the different options in the EU, UK, and so on. Switzerland too, has their own, so do your research before you arrive to a country.
Wifi and privacy
This can be challenging. Though many hostels offer dependable Wifi, opt for a private room if you need to do a lot of meetings, if only to manage the noise. Poor sound quality and background noise can really ruin a meeting. On the other hand, coffee shops are great if you are powering through things, and also when you are travelling because sometimes it’s nice to be around other people.
so, What About You?
That I have been able to travel while still pursuing my career goals, has been a great experience. Even if you’re lucky enough like me to work for a company that lends this flexibility to its workforce, when working remotely you have to be proactive when it comes to intelligent and economical use of time, and communication. What technology or strategy has worked for you? I would love to hear!