Introduction: Jennifer Aldrich is a product designer and a tech blogger that has spent the last 12+ years working in the software industry, 7 of those remotely. Her work has appeared in publications like Creative Bloq, Startup Grind, etc.
She works for InVision and is living her best remote life residing in and renovating a 1920s construction cottage in the country. In addition to design, she loves spending time with her 16 year-old daughter, taking an obscenely large number of photos, and chasing around her 3 wild Bichon Frise puppies.
Pennsylvania, United States
Senior Manager of Design Community Partnerships at InVision
Current Computer, Mobile, etc?
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Take us through your typical weekday?
Get up, take out my three wild Bichon Frise pups. Get ready for my day. Power up the laptop. I block off the first hour of my day 3 days a week to dedicate to emails & social media message catch up.
Two days a week I block off 3 hours of dedicated focus time to bang out project work. Weeks when projects require less focus, I cut back the time blocks.
Time blocking and organizing meetings around that time has helped increase my productivity significantly.
The rest of my day is made up of Zoom meetings, cross functional team Slack messaging, outreach to our amazing partners through email & social media, initiative management internally and externally and program planning.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Most days I sit at a long white desk, facing a sliding glass door that looks out over my backyard and the field and woods behind my house.
I’ve got a Macbook Pro on a Twelve South stand, Dell 24 inch monitor, Wireless Apple keyboard, Apple's magic mouse, a desk lamp, Echo Dot, Mac Mini, a framed picture of my kiddo, and a tiny baby groot on my desk.
I like things to be really uncluttered in my workspace, it helps me focus.
On nice weather days I work in my “outdoor office”, a wicker sectional under a big umbrella, and during the winter when it’s especially cold out I work at a long desk in front of the fireplace.
One of the many benefits of remote work, is being able to work from anywhere you want. We found out the the major reasons why people quit their jobs and start remote work. So stop thinking, start searching.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
As far as apps go, I’m a huge fan of the Anylist. It has an Alexa skill, so I can add things instantly when they become top of mind. I use Spotify everywhere I go as well. Slack, InVision Studio & Freehand, and Zoom are my lifeblood in our remote working environment.
I’m definitely a great big Apple fan girl, so my iPhone, iPad & Apple Pencil, Airpods, and MacBook are always within reach. We suggest a look at the best headphones for remote work available out there.
How do you recharge or take a break?
This is something I really need to work on. I tend to sit in front of the desk for hours without breaking, and eventually, losing track of time. Thankfully my pups remind me that it’s time to get up and stretch a few times a day to take them outside. I also drink A LOT of coffee & Dr Pepper.
I finally started setting alarms to remind myself to get up to eat, and to sign off at the end of the work day. Working from home is a HUGE blessing in so many ways, but as a recovering workaholic, I really need to actively push myself, and hold myself accountable for unplugging at the end of the day.
I also shift locations when I need to look at a project from a new perspective. It’s amazing how much a change of scenery can reset your line of thinking. Sometimes it’s just a shift to another room in my house, other times it’s a trip to my favorite local coffee shop.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Spend quality time with my kiddo and pups, take tons of photos, go to concerts, watch movies, write novels, listen to audio books, work on art etc. I try to keep my life outside of work as laid back and relaxing as possible.
What are you reading currently? What do you recommend?
I’m currently rereading The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo. Prior to I was reading Creativity Inc.. They’re both phenomenal.
Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?
It takes a lot of self-discipline and internal motivation to be able to work remotely full time. If you’re a person that requires a lot of prompting or external validation it may not be a great fit for you. I’m easily distracted by people around me, so being in a remote work environment is perfect for me.
Zero distractions mean I can focus 100% of my attention on my work. Other people find working in solitude lonely and distracting, rather than productive.
As a remote worker, you have to really push yourself to get out of the house and connect with friends outside the working hours. It can be really easy to slip into hermit mode. It’s also a constant battle to STOP working at the end of the work day.
Being able to take your work anywhere is a blessing in so many ways for work/life integration, but you have to be really dedicated to shutting down your work side at the end of the day. I STILL struggle with this, and I've been working remotely for 6 years between my two startups. It’s a constant battle and a work in progress. Some people love working remotely, others absolutely hate it—it’s a really personal experience.
Remote work has been life changing for me, as a person who battles chronic illness.
I kept my condition on the DL for over 4.5 years—no one had any idea that I was ill.
Working remotely means that I can give 100% and work up the corporate ladder without my illness impacting my work in any way.
It’s been an amazing opportunity and experience. Before you join a fully remote team, make sure you fully research the company culture. We researched and gathered information about how to prepare for a remote job. Give it a read.
InVision has been amazing in this regard, but I’ve heard of other remote companies falling short in this area. Company culture is huge when it comes to remote company success.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
The best advice I ever received came from my VP of Product Design at my first startup: “In a year no one on your team will remember that you stayed an hour late on a Thursday to work overtime on a project, but your kiddo will always remember that you missed a school play as a result.
Bosses and jobs come and go, family and work/life balance should always be priority number one.”
What qualities would you recommend are a must-have for a person seeking a remote job?
You need to be a self starter, a very clear communicator, able to swallow your pride and get comfortable reaching out to team members directly to ask for help and feedback, and able to manage your time and productivity effectively on your own.
What according to you are the pros and cons of remote work?
I’ve written about the pros and cons of remote word here in this article on Medium.
Want to work remotely like Jennifer? Visit the DailyRemote's Job Board and apply to your dream job. Start preparing and keep in mind to avoid the common mistakes while applying for a remote job. If you want to be featured on our blog? Contact us.