September 11th, 2018 by

Employee Perspectives: Working Remotely for the First Time

Working remotely and being across the country from your company HQ isn’t always the easiest, but the benefits for some people can outweigh any of the cons that some might think of. I got to catch up with Ryan Geyer who joined Turbonomic in May of 2018. Ryan joined the company, but lived in Southern California. He embraced the ‘what’s next’ in his career and took on a new challenge, which has proved worthwhile.

Ryan, can you give us a rundown on who you are, what you do at Turbonomic and where you were prior to joining?

Ryan: Where to start? I’m a California native and I grew up around IT and technology. I’m a father to three young boys (with a 4th baby on the way). When I’m not selling or supporting IT software, I like to spend time with my family, ride my bicycle(s), and work on my car(s).

At Turbonomic, I work on the Channel and Alliance team, as a Sr. Pre-Sales System Engineer, most closely aligned with our cloud partnerships. Before Turbonomic, I spent nearly 8 years at RightScale mixing it up during the early days of cloud.

Did you always work remotely? If no, what made you want to make the change?

Ryan: Actually, this is my first time being a remote employee! In previous jobs I’ve had some work-from-home flexibility, but I’ve always lived near the headquarters. This is an interesting new experience for me, and it’s decidedly different from just working from home a few days a week.

The change was mostly a result of wanting to branch out of the “Silicon Beach” tech market to explore other companies, combined with my desire to stay in Southern California where I’ve made my home. 

What advice would you give someone considering a remote job?

Ryan: If your employer supports it, and you’ve got the discipline to be productive, DO IT. Make sure that you find a small group of your peers that you can lean on for advice and “on the ground” relationship building. When you’re entirely remote, you have to build your village so that you can get things done and keep in-the-loop of new developments.

Setup a cadence with these people and stick to it even if it becomes difficult (I have to confess I need to improve on this). This is the equivalent of the water-cooler conversations you’re missing out on at headquarters or a regional office.

What are the biggest benefits to working remotely?

Ryan: Flexibility and (for me) the lack of distractions during the workday. This allows me to be MUCH more productive, particularly first thing in the morning. I also love being able to walk around while on conference calls and get outside a bit.

The challenges?

Ryan: Focus, urgency, company culture and did I mention focus?

Focus: Sometimes it can be difficult to remain on-task when you’re working from home. It’s easy to get distracted by every day personal happenings. The best remedy is to be disciplined about your time and space. For me, 7:30-8am is for getting the kids to school. After that it’s reading emails and setting the day up to be productive.

Urgency: Sometimes it can be easy to focus on tasks which are individual when you work remotely. This can cause you to prioritize this work and miss the urgency of a group task or meeting. My team and leadership have done a great job of communicating on a regular basis what things are at the top of the pile.

Culture: This one was especially evident for me when moving from being in the office to being full-time remote. It’s hard when you join a new company and work remote, since you have no prior integration into the culture.

“It’s easy to underestimate the value of just meeting and chatting with your co-workers at the water-cooler or coffee machine, but it certainly does build camaraderie.”

Turbonomic did an excellent job of getting me out to the Boston HQ early and immersed in a well-prepared on-boarding program. While I was in Boston, I made the best of my time and got to know as many people as I could face-to-face.

Finally, to wrap things up… what apps, websites, or tools are critical to you working remotely?

Ryan: A good web conferencing tool (we use Zoom, and it’s great) is vital. Also, being willing to be “that guy” who is sharing their webcam is also a great help. I didn’t always appreciate the value of sharing webcam video, but as a remote employee I do it as often as possible, and it often encourages others to do the same. This makes the whole experience a bit more authentic.

An absolute necessity is a quality roll-aboard suitcase. While I don’t travel an exorbitant amount, being willing to hop on a plane to be with other Turbos, or to get in front of customers is hugely valuable when working remotely. It helps you stay immersed and engaged.

Finally, making sure that your calendar is well curated, and includes important personal activities is key. I also use a program called “Mobile Day” which makes joining most phone and web conferences a single-click affair from my mobile device.

 

About our featured employee:

Ryan Geyer joined Turbonomic in May, 2018 as a Senior Pre-Sales System Engineer. His strength as a pre-sales engineer is in understanding business needs and effectively translating those to scalable and elegant technical solutions. Prior to Turbonomic, Ryan worked at RightScale for 8 years. He’s also a big contributor to github!

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