Hey, I am Anna Makovnikova, Product Manager at Toggl Track. I'm also a Guest Professor at the Business School MIM in Kyiv, leading a course on "Management of the Remote Teams."
I enjoy creating various policies, rules, standards, manuals, etc., that help structure my work and improve results. I've significant international experience in managing cross-cultural and geographically remote teams and outstanding training and facilitating skills.
Current Computer, Mobile, etc.?
Where can we follow you on the Internet?
Describe how you work in 10 words or less?
Transparent sync + async communication with a team flavored with ongoing Zoom user interviews.
Tell us a little bit about your background & how did you get started with remote work?
I've been working remotely for the last nine years. My first fully remote role was for a toy company; I had to manage European distributors and oversee international marketing operations. First few years I've been working from Ukraine and then moved to Spain.
My direct manager was in the Netherlands; he left a few years later. The rest of my team was in Hong Kong. I had to travel 30-40% of my time, mostly within Europe, and every October, I spent 2-3 weeks in my Hong Kong office for a catch up with the team.
What job responsibilities do you have?
As a part of a cross-functional team, I’m responsible for the new product developments that solve our users' problems. I lead Product Discovery and support Product Delivery, integrating design, development, marketing, and sales teams.
Take us through your typical weekday?
I start my workday early at 9. We have a separate office room in our house, which we call “co-working” since my husband and I work all day and where our eldest does his homework.
The first hour usually is catching up in Slack. Our team is located worldwide, so some information comes from other time zones when I sleep. The next few hours are either having team meetings or customer calls or working on documentation. I have my lunch at around 1 pm. If it’s sunny and warm, I prefer eating outside on our terrace. After lunch, I always have an ice-cream sitting on the terrace steps, watching our dogs playing in the garden, or just listening to birds or summer cicadas.
Depending on the workload, either I or my husband or both switch to the parent mode. You can also go over these tips to work effectively with kids when working from home. In summer, we can stay outside in the garden; in winter, we light up the fireplace and enjoy our time in the living room. It’s a perfect time to finish any work-related stuff and watch a new series together or play a board game with our elder son.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Everything related to my daily work - a desk, a comfy chair, laptop, a few empty paper sheets, a notebook, a calculator, Kindle, and a big standing folder to some random docs or papers.
There is also a small glass that I painted with glass-paint; I use it for pens and pencils, two photo frames, a scotch tape holder in the form of a high-heel shoe, and a small Hotwheel copy of red Tesla with Starman - the reminder of its original one, currently wondering in space.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Zoom and Slack for communication, Notion for company wiki, Deezer for music, Google calendar to keep me organized, Miranda to check the time in different time zones, and of course Toggl Track for tracking my productivity.
How do you keep track of what you need to prioritize?
I use Toggl Plan to prepare a monthly plan with all the projects and tasks I need to manage daily; I also plan some days dedicated to the specific job types that need to be done. Each morning I check this plan, check all the meetings scheduled in my calendar, and prepare a prioritized to-do list to make sure nothing is missed.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I live in a suburban area 10 min drive from Valencia city, in a house with a lovely garden and swimming pool. It’s always quiet here, so whenever I need to switch from work, I just go outside and do something in the garden - water the plants, cut and smell fresh basil or sit on the tiled terrace and drink a cocktail.
What are you currently reading? What do you recommend?
I’ve just started reading A Little Life written by Hanya Yanagihara. I also read a lot of business literature related to Product Management and Team Leadership.
For those who work remotely and have multi-cultural teams, I highly recommend Culture Map by Erin Meyer. It helps to understand other people better, what drives their motivations and frustrations, and how you can communicate with them considering the cultural context.
Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?
Consider if you are ready to bigger autonomy and self-discipline, learn how to communicate your thoughts. Look for the companies that hire remotely for your job and inspect their requirements and expectations from the candidates. If you feel like a good fit, go for it and enjoy the new level of flexibility!
What, according to you, are the pros and cons of remote work?
Cons are pretty much expected for everyone - the inability to disconnect from work, missing team spirit and feeling lonely, challenges in communication and collaboration.
Pro’s vary for each person; I summarized mine in this 60-sec video:
Want to work remotely like Anna? Go over our guide to see how companies hire remote employees and learn essential qualities a remote employee must-have. If you are searching for a remote job, study these common questions remote workers usually ask. And while you're at it, join like-minded remote workers in our LinkedIn community.