Hi, I am Lance Robbins, Workforce Development Consultant at Distribute Consulting. I am focused on guiding change management projects at Distribute. We work with large businesses that are adopting more flexible working practices. I serve as an SME on workforce issues and manage projects and accounts. I also serve a couple of other clients as a talent acquisition consultant as the founder and CEO of RemotelyConnected.

Current Location?

Homebase in Summerville, GA but currently in Ketchum, Idaho on a 6-week road trip.

Current Gig?

Workforce Development Consultant at Distribute Consulting along with my remote recruitment practice, RemotelyConnected.

Current Computer, Mobile, etc.?

Apple devices: MacBook Pro with a wireless trackpad and Logitech Keyboard. iPhone for mobile.

Where can we follow you on the Internet?

Linkedin, Instagram

Describe how you work in 10 words or less?

Asynchronous as a default, but love real-time collaboration.

Tell us a little bit about your background & how did you get started with remote work?

In 2008, I started working with a reforestation company of about 90 people. I didn’t realize it at the time, but managing a workforce spread across the Southeastern US was actually managing a “distributed” company.

After nine years, I was the general manager of a 350 employee decentralized company. By then, I craved more flexibility and personal growth, so I moved to a brand new industry to support People Operations at XWP. Since then, I’ve been a huge advocate of remote work and focused my career path in the remote industry.

What apps, gadgets, or tools you can't live without?

My workspace is nothing fancy. I use an extra bedroom in our house. I have a sit/stand desk and a hard plastic folding chair (it encourages me to stand more than sit).

Since I’ve been on this road trip, I’m finding Krisp to be super valuable! An external keyboard is also a must-have for my home office.

Aside: You can also look at some of the best headphones for remote work to get some tunes going while working.

How do you keep track of what you need to prioritize?

  1. Building in the routine, by putting mundane tasks right in my calendar. I block chunks of time that are assigned to specific tasks that always need to be done.
  2. It’s pretty simple, but I like to use the "tasks" feature in Google’s email to make a todo list of non-ordinary tasks and prioritize them within that list.

How do you recharge or take a break?

On a day-to-day, getting out into the garden is an excellent way to get my hands in the dirt and slow down for a bit. Whether it's pulling weeds, picking cucumbers, cutting a bouquet, or collecting eggs from the hens, any of those are good ways to help me slow down and recharge. I also make sure to block off meal times and step away from the keyboard to spend them with my family.

What are you currently reading? What do you recommend?

Right now, Cal Newport’s "So Good They Can’t Ignore You." A couple of my other recent favorite reads are:

1. Bob Burg: The Go-Giver
2. Shane Snow: Dream Teams
3. Chris Voss: Never Split the Difference
4. The Legendary Stephen Covey: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?‌

If you asked me this question about a year ago, my advice would have been more about making a strong business case for change, but now everything has changed. I’m taking a little liberty to reshape this question; hope it’s not too far off base...
If you find yourself in a remote job now for the first time, my advice is this.

Give yourself some slack (I’m not referring to the app).

This isn’t remote work as it’s meant to be. This is trying to adapt to significant changes while enduring a economic recession, political unrest, and a slew of other factors. Make sure you’re being kind to yourself and permit yourself to turn off the notifications.

If you’re not already experiencing it, burnout is a massive problem for remote workers. Don’t join the burnout club just because everyone else is doing it.

What qualities would you recommend are a must-have for a person seeking a remote job?

The emotional intelligence suite of skills is so valuable for a remote worker. Self and social awareness and management are indispensable. I would put this group of skills at the top of the list.

The great thing about these things is that they are different from our fixed personality traits. They are learnable and growable, so I would recommend leaning into this topic.

What according to you are the pros and cons of remote work?

I'll start with the cons. First off, it can get lonely. If you don't have a strong social network around you, feelings of isolation can quickly wear you down. Secondly, I'd say that burnout is a huge problem for a lot of remote workers.

The pros are enormous, so if you can manage the cons, the potential upside is totally worth it. The good things extend well beyond personal convenience. We're talking about potential global impacts in terms of socio-economic impact, environmental sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and more.

While I love trading commute time to spend with my family, I'm thinking about the bigger picture, like how will families be stronger and how will that impact our society's social fabric? The impact potential is massive, and right now, most people are only talking about the tip of the iceberg.

‌Want to work remotely like Lance? Go over our guide to see how companies hire remote employees and learn essential qualities a remote employee must-have. Adn while you're at it, join like-minded remote workers in our LinkedIn community.