Hey, I'm Laïla von Alvensleben, Head of Culture & Collaboration at MURAL. I've made it my mission to enable distributed teams to cultivate a thriving remote working culture that will empower them to work from anywhere. I split my time between my role at MURAL and facilitating online workshops on remote collaboration.
Remote work is my jam, and my experience in distributed teams has been vital in bringing a "remote first" approach and culture within MURAL's teams. I'm also a member of the Remote Work Association, a network that promotes location-independent jobs.
Head of Culture and Collaboration, MURAL
Where can we follow you on the Internet?
Describe how you work in 10 words or less?
Asynchronously in the morning, collaboratively in the afternoons and evenings.
Tell us a little bit about your background & how did you get started with remote work?
My background is in design—I went from interior architecture to graphic design and then UX design before. In 2013 I went back to being a student and earned a Master of Arts in Digital Media Management.
At about that time, I also decided to find a remote job to travel and work from anywhere. To make that happen, I wrote my thesis on Remote Design Thinking and found a UX designer job in a fully remote product design company.I’ve been converted to remote work since then.
I joined MURAL as an online facilitator and remote work coach before moving into People Operations. I’m now Head of Culture and Collaboration, which blends all the things I enjoy: designing experiences and supporting people to connect in virtual environments.
What job responsibilities do you have?
I’d say my role is split into multiple layers. Internally, I help improve the employee experience at MURAL and support teams to adopt best practices to collaborate in an online environment. Beyond that, I give talks and facilitate learning experiences to share MURAL’s thought leadership on remote work and online collaboration.
Take us through your typical weekday?
Since most of my teammates are based in the Americas, and I’m in Europe, my mornings are tranquil. I tend to start work later in the day to overlap with them as much as possible, so I’ll usually be online around noon until 7-8 pm CET.
I try to get as much admin and deep work done in the morning before the afternoon kicks off with meetings, workshops, and the occasional webinar or online conference.
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What’s your workspace setup like?
It’s very simple and lightweight because I traveled a lot before this situation began, but I’m still keeping it minimal now. All I need is my laptop, second keyboard (when I use my laptop stand or elevated desk), ergonomic mouse and mousepad.
I’m always careful about my posture and the distance between my wrist and the desk because I had chronic shoulder pain from years ago when I worked in an office that didn’t have the appropriate work setup.
I might get a second screen and standing desk eventually since I have a home office now. Still, I’m more interested in turning my workspace into a mini co-working space that can accommodate two people, in case I have a friend visiting who’d like to work from home with me.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
I’d be pretty sad if I couldn’t have Spotify.
How do you keep track of what you need to prioritize?
At MURAL, we use KOAN, an OKR tool, to write weekly reflections on what we accomplished during the week and share our main priorities for the upcoming week. It’s quite useful to share updates with the team because it also creates transparent communication and accountability.
How do you recharge or take a break?
In these times, nature walks are probably my favorite way to recharge on the weekend. During work breaks, I like to call friends abroad and catch up on their lives. If they’re busy, I’ll leave them a long voice message, which I jokingly refer to as podcast (they can get excessively long, but I’d rather talk than text).
What are you reading currently? What do you recommend?
The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. I’m still at the beginning, but it’s been recommended to me by so many people whose work ethic I admire that I’m recommending it already.
Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?
Make sure you do your research on the company and the role. Don’t apply to a job only because they allow you to work remotely because it will show during the interview (and you might not realize later that you’re not a good fit for the role).
What qualities would you recommend are a must-have for a person seeking a remote job?
Be a good communicator, both for work and non-work related stuff. Emphasis on written communications, as we’re all in different time zones.
People often underestimate how important it is to connect with others in a remote setting.
I find it’s actually easier to open up about your own life sometimes rather than come up with complex rituals or events that require a lot of time and prep.
What, according to you, are the pros and cons of remote work?
Better work-life balance for a remote employee and ability to hire talent from anywhere for the employer, but at the cost of social isolation and overworking for the employee. The employer needs to be intentional about fostering a culture where people can connect and respect each other’s time.
Want to work remotely like Laïla? If you are searching for a remote job, go through these common questions remote workers usually ask. And while you're at it, join like-minded remote workers in our LinkedIn community.