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Remote Worker Series: Taylor McKnight

July 11, 2014 by

1. What are you working on?

I'm transitioning our onboarding drip campaign from Mandrill over to Intercom. We want to create more specific "next steps" based on exactly what a new customer hasn't completed yet. More generally, this is all part of Sched.org, a publishing and communication platform for conferences, festivals and meetings. I've been working on it every day since 2009.

2. What’s the biggest challenge of working remotely right now?

I've been living in Asia for the past few months and coordinating sales and support calls with Pacific time office hours (15 hours behind Asia) provides a very limited window.

3. Describe your workspace/ How do you choose a spot to work from?

Currently I work from a villa in Bali or one of three epic cafes we've discovered here: Crate Cafe, Grocer & Grind or Sugar Cane.

Two years ago I left Austin, TX to travel and live in Airbnb's full-time. I've been documenting my work+living spaces at http://whoa.fm. We stay for 1-2 months in each spot. To find the next destination, we spent hours browsing Airbnb for a place we love at a price that works. For longer term rentals you can almost always negotiate 10-20% off the listed rate. We often ask hosts to run a speed test too and so we know what Wifi speeds to expect. There was a castle we really wanted to stay in but they didn't have Internet, which is really the only requirement we have :)

Remote workers series McKnight's 01 4. What are the most important types of tools you use as a remote worker (video, chat, email)?

World Time Buddy: I use this every day to schedule phone calls, find availability for server maintenance and remember which teammates are asleep.

Flint for Campfire: A minimal OSX client for 37signal's Campfire chat. It has custom alerts and a menubar icon that lights up to ensure I don't miss anything important. And most of the time it's our team watercooler, where we chat and paste funny gifs all day.

Zapier: I use this to pump important emails from customers, sales notifications and web application alerts into Campfire for our whole team to see.

Aviate (Android only): A super-smart homescreen. It knows when I'm at home or traveling and instantly bubbles up the right thing, like my calendar or google maps or foursquare tips (great for finding the wifi password of a new cafe).

Boomerang for Gmail: In an office, you often run into colleagues which will jog your memory to ask about project updates. I use Boomerang to bounce emails back to my inbox if I haven't gotten a status update on a project. Remote workers serie McKnight's timezones

-World Time Buddy helps Taylor sort time zones

5. What’s the biggest misconception about remote work?

Remotely working from a laptop is hard for others to interpret properly or give the same credibility as working in an office. For awhile I struggled with being interrupted throughout the day by family and friends while trying to work. It was really just a matter of clear communication and setting better availability expectations.

6. Top tips for working remotely?

Slow travel. After taking a four month road trip where I was attempting to work and drive every day, I realized it was hard to enjoy either. Now I always stay for 1-2 months in each spot.

The first two weeks are usually spent developing a routine, exploring new spots and figuring out basic needs like groceries and laundry. Then I start feeling like a local and really get to be productive in my new, temporary home.

7. Do you think remote employees more productive?

Yes. I think the best long term investment a company can make in their employees is to give employees more freedom. Remote work is an excellent example of this but it can also take shape in ongoing education and being challenged to learn new things.

Remote workers serie McKnight's offices

Follow Taylor on Twitter @gtmcknight

Want to learn more about using Fuze for Remote Work? Check out the Fuze Use Case Catalog for Remote Employees

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