The idea of working from home, at least some days, is appealing to almost everyone. Waking up and getting paid while being in our own space can be both relaxing and productive. The days of needing to be in an office environment are over, and more and more employers are starting to offer the option to work from home.
With the right company and industry, the reasons for offering remote working options are clear. Employees love the flexibility in schedule and location that comes with remote work. Moving to a new city for personal reasons no longer means you have to find a new job. Staying connected to coworkers is easier than ever with new technologies. And software allows employers to track productivity regardless of location.
These days people working remotely tops 3.7 million, a number that has doubled in the last 10 years. Employers who offer work from home options are looking far more appealing in the eyes of talent. So, now is a great time to learn about remote working and if your company could benefit. We sat down with Louisville Geek’s John Kesselring, who works remote from Charleston, South Carolina. We found out the benefits and downfalls of working remote and how John stays connected and stays productive while hundreds of miles away from the office.
Can you give a high-level overview of what types of services do you perform on a daily basis?
So, I am currently part of a team of senior engineers, and a lot of us are also working on projects underneath a project manager. So, with what I’m doing right now I’m pretty much solely focused on a project, because of the scope of that project, how much money is involved, and the need for it to go smoothly for the rest of the year. It’s one of the biggest things I’ve ever done, well, it is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. So right now, my focus is making sure this active directory domain migration from 20 different active directory domains into one big parent-child structure goes smoothly. Planning it all out, implementing, doing the cutovers, that’s taking most of my time. But, if I wasn’t solely focused on that, my work would be, and I say would be because it was, a mixture of working on projects and receiving ticket escalations from the help desk that entry-level guys don’t have experience in. I receive some of those issues and figure it out.
Doing that, what do you like about it, is there anything you dislike about your job as a whole and what you do on a daily basis?
So, I love problem solving. Probably one of the main reasons I enjoy the field I’m in. I’m pretty much, every single day, problem solving something I haven’t problem solved before. There are some exceptions where I’m just clicking buttons, doing some menial task. But most of my job is problem solving. So that’s one of the things that is most enjoyable for me. And I think I’m probably a little bit of an oddball when it comes to a computer geek. I miss the interpersonal interactions with clients. If there’s any part of my job that I don’t love, it’s that I wish I could go in and shake hands with some of the owners of companies I work with and make them feel comfortable and let them know they’re taken care of.
So about working remotely specifically, you said that being limited to the phone is a slight disadvantage, but you were also telling me earlier that your productivity goes through the roof when you aren’t in the same space, talking to coworkers all day. Are there any other advantages of disadvantages?
I mean, exactly what you just said. One of the advantages of me as an employee whether for Louisville Geek or anybody else is that I am way more productive when I’m remote because I don’t have those coworkers coming up and shooting the breeze or catching up or chatting over lunch or whatever. And those interpersonal relationships are important, but from a strictly books, numbers standpoint, my billable hours are significantly higher. I went from about 20-25 billable hours working in the office to usually over 30 when I work remote. A lot of that is due to the lack of distraction. And some of those things are necessary, like if I’m talking with a coworker about something we are working on, I’m building up relational equity while also giving them information which will help the client, but its less quantifiable. What I’m doing as a remote engineer can, for the most part, be quantified, and the company can see exactly how valuable I am.
How do you stay connected when you are remote? What tech do you use and how do you maintain a healthy mind state?
Teams messaging is huge. Microsoft’s most recent instant messaging platform which also has video chat built into it. So, on the phone quite often with coworkers and on Teams quite often with coworkers. Some email as well, but email is mostly for client facing communication, like giving status updates on a project. I actually have, not related to work, but I have a Bible study that I do on Wednesday mornings. That helps to stay connected with coworkers and maintain relationships.
What makes you continue to work for Louisville Geek despite being in Charleston where the tech market is growing?
Louisville Geek has been very, very fair to me, and I mean that in the best way possible. I say fair, but that is probably an understatement. It’s my perspective that I will work as hard as I can, I’m not the best engineer to walk the planet but I will work my hardest and Louisville Geek has taken care of me in regard to my salary. And that’s from a purely pragmatic, I need to survive standpoint. But right, there are other jobs out there. Well, there are benefits to working in an office where I’m seeing people but there’s also benefits to working remote where I can do my job wherever I have internet. So, an example would be I just made a two-week trip away from home to visit family. I worked 95% of that time during the workweek because I had internet and I had a laptop. I can just do my thing wherever I am and then I can see family in the evenings and that’s great. Then I go back home, and I do remote work from Charleston. Most jobs I couldn’t do that. There are few jobs that give me that freedom. And that’s from an even more than fair standpoint from Louisville geek’s side. I feel extremely blessed to have a company that trusts me enough to do my work from anywhere. So that’s what I do.