My name is Teresa and I work as a people manager and analyst for Kaplan Test Prep. She is the coauthor of Working Remotely: Secrets to Success For Employees on Distributed Teams. I also write about ways to enjoy (or troubleshoot) your remote work/life. I hold an MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an MFA in fiction from Sara Lawrence College in New York.
I work full time for Kaplan Test Prep and a People and Operations Manager
Current Computer, Mobile, etc:
For Kaplan, an HP laptop and Skype phone
Where you can find her online?
Describe how you work in 10 words or fewer?
I manage results through people relationships.
Tell us a little bit about your background & how did you get started with remote work?
I moved into remote work almost by accident. My company decided to go remote, and I had to decide if I wanted to stick with them or find something else.
I was 7 months pregnant with my second child and was thinking about getting an MBA, and remote work sounded like a great way to accommodate these changes in my life. I decided to take the plunge.
What job responsibilities do you have?
I manage part time staff and work as an analyst. ‘Analyst’ covers a lot of ground but for me that means taking a look at markets in my territory, deciding which of our classes might run in each area, and monitoring their financial health.
Take us through your typical weekday?
My work week is never boring. I start work at 6:30am and spend time on the part of my job that requires focus. I look at class financials, and plan out the classes that I want to put on the schedule in different markets.
Mid morning is generally full of meetings and answering email from part time staff. If someone gets sick, or we have a weather event (hurricanes, fires, etc) I spend time finding subs or rescheduling a class. I run or work out at lunch. In the afternoon I staff classes. My Kaplan day ends at 2:30, and then I transition to my author activities.
I perform research, reach out to people I want to interview, and write articles. Somewhere in there I pick up my children from school, and then depending on the day I hang out with my children or write until 5pm.
What’s your workspace setup like?
I have a small but mighty office off of my bedroom. I have a desk, printer, and a small set of plastic filing cabinets. There are plants everywhere, and I have a small Betta fish named Mac.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Todoist is my lifeline. I have a lot going on, and the only way I can keep track of it all is by using my todoist app with my google calendar. I also pay for very good internet, and a good headset with mic.
We have created a list of great pair of headphone suitable for people having work from home jobs.
How do you keep track of what you need to prioritize?
I plan reflection points in my week and in my month. I take a look at where I’m spending the majority of my time, and check to see if this matches up with my personal and professional goals.
Did I do what I said I was going to do?
Sometimes life gets in the way of our plans, but sometimes we let other people’s urgency change our plans. Setting aside time to think about what I’m doing helps me keep my life aligned with my goals.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Working out on my lunch break helps me unplug from work, and I often come back with ideas about how to tackle the issues in my inbox.
What do you like to do in your free time?
So many things. I run on the weekend, knit in the evenings, and read whenever I can. I also enjoy meeting with my writer’s group once a month.
What are you reading currently? What do you recommend?
Right now I’m reading ‘The Culture Map’ by Erin Meyers. It’s a must-read for anyone who manages a cross cultural team. It is a book where an international business expert helps you understand and navigate cultural differences in this insightful and practical guide, perfect for both your work and personal life.
Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?
Set up your support structures now before you go remote--find a hobby, and connect with a professional organization so you have a way to network in your career and unplug at the end of the day.
What’s your best piece of advice you have received?
‘Don’t forget to schedule your lunch.’ It seems like basic advice, but once I started putting my lunch time in my calendar, working remotely became a lot more humane. Put buffer time in there as well. If a meeting goes long, you still need time to stretch and eat. .
What qualities would you recommend are a must-have for a person seeking a remote job?
There’s this misconception that people who work remotely are people-hating hermits. The opposite is true.
If you really want to thrive in this medium, you must have great people skills. You also need to be proactive--your boss and colleagues won’t always know if you run into an issue or aren’t getting what you need. You need to be the sort of person who is comfortable reaching out for information, and imposing your own structure to your day.
What according to you are the pros and cons of remote work?
I love how flexible remote work can be. I work an early schedule so I can write, run, and spend time with my family.
Remote work has also allowed me to make professional connections with people that are located far away from me.
It’s also a great medium to sharpen one’s people skills. Like any work set up, remote work does have its challenges. You have to be the sort of person who knows how to reach out and establish those human connections, because you won’t bump into your coworkers in the office.
Loneliness and burnout are also challenges. The good news is that you can set up routines and structures to deal with all of these issues.
Getting a remote job is no more difficult than a normal job, it’s just requires a little effort. Looking for a remote job, get inspired by people like Teresa and start searching. Also while applying for a remote job keep in mind to avoid the common mistakes and start preparing for remote job interview. Go get it.