How I Became a Remote Worker (And Why I Don’t Plan on Stopping Any Time Soon)
This post was written by Steven Watkins, our Email Marketing Analyst.
Growing up, I had no conception of what remote work was. I come from a family of skilled tradespeople who worked mostly in mechanical, hands-on jobs. This is how I viewed what my work life would be like. I was expecting to be involved with the family business and work with my hands. However, the path I took ultimately led me on a different course. Here’s the story of how I discovered a preference for remote work and explored various departments before becoming FormAssembly’s Email Marketing Analyst.
My Path to Working Remotely
As I went into college at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, to study computer science, I began to understand what remote work was and what it really meant. It didn’t necessarily just mean distant separation and a lack of skilled work, but really it meant operable from anywhere and highly specialized work. With the technological improvements of the world that I saw and had access to during my academic career at Indiana University, I began to understand the kind of career I could build for myself after graduating. I had a heavy background in graphic design with my computer science degree, however, I focused on understanding the capabilities in information and how it moves.
With Silicon Valley continuing its boom and big data coming into the picture, I moved into software sales, working in a downtown Indianapolis office after school and living with my father. After a year and a half, I grew tired of the commute and all the hassle and expense that went with actually earning a living. Eventually I decided to move on to start pursuing a career working remotely. Fortunately, my performance at my first job had solidified my name already and after confidently leaving “the grind,” I immediately got an offer.
My first job working remote was selling LED lights for an out-of-state manufacturer and I worked there for 6 months. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but like I’ve found out, the first step towards any goal usually is not ideal. I performed well but it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. I eventually found another opportunity to return to a traditional workplace, and I took it. Moving on to driving back into an office, an hour both ways, was a good move for my professional career but it also made me realize that remote work was better for me in the long run.
Eventually, traditional office culture wore on me enough that I began to look for another opportunity. After a short search I found a position at FormAssembly available in Bloomington, a town I dearly missed and a place I felt comfortable living on my own in since I earned my degree there. FormAssembly gave me a shot and I began working for a company that actually promoted remote culture instead of just entertaining the idea.
Though FormAssembly is a remote-first company, being so near to the headquarters allowed me to interact face-to-face with other Indiana-based co-workers during those first few pivotal months on the job. I believe this was critical to my training and onboarding. The first few weeks on any new position is a very sensitive time for a new team member and the company hiring them and that’s why I wanted to get as much face time as possible with the team. My position with FormAssembly was originally meant to be in Sales, but I started out by choice in Support because I felt that it would be the best way to learn the pain our current customers have alleviated, in order to better help prospective clients understand our services. I feel that this client success-focused start, coupled with my ability to work remotely or in the office, gave me the best start at a new company that I’ve ever had.
After a few months with Support, I made the move to Sales and that’s when I began to work remotely again. In this transition, I was at a point where I could literally talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime about FormAssembly because of my firm grounding in Customer Success. As I was moving into Sales, our company was also growing and more people were coming onboard and working remotely 100 percent of the time. I worked remotely but also went into the office from time to time for some crucial human interaction (which is definitely important no matter where or how you work).
The Importance of Social Interaction on a Remote Team
When I started at FormAssembly, we were at 12 people, now we are over 30. I believe that part of what makes a growing remote team work is the opportunity for social interaction. One thing I’ve really enjoyed is that FormAssembly has company reunions annually where we all have a chance to be together at one time. I’ve been a part of two, and they are absolutely wonderful. For example, last year we had a pontoon at our local reservoir along with jet skis and row boats to use on our own if we wanted. I feel that these kinds of events build the camaraderie in our company and bring us closer together, allowing us to appreciate the remote culture even more at our own pace. They say that the heart grows fonder with absence, and it’s true for remote coworkers because I’ve seen and felt it.
I’ve never had apprehensions that a remote company would work, because people naturally want to be together to share their stories of winning and losing in order to learn more and grow, and that’s true success. Learning and growing together.
Career Growth on a Remote Team
Recently I’ve transitioned to a role in marketing as FormAssembly’s Email Marketing Analyst. I felt that this was another natural step in the progression of my previous roles. Having spent time getting to know how our clients are successful, how they aren’t, what drives them to us and what does not, gave me the knowledge and experience to understand how I could be effective at communicating to them through our marketing department. As I continue my new role here, I look forward to learning more about our clients and how they want to engage and learn about FormAssembly.
Remote Work: The Right Choice for Me
Working remotely changed my life in so many ways. I’ve found that working remote allows me to be more resourceful to myself and even to those around me. Working remote has allowed me to be there for family when they have needed me the most as well as the freedom from any type of workplace apprehension and that feeling of dreading ‘going’ to work, no matter what the reason may be. Remotely I’m able to make the office space that allows me to be productive and focused. I have my own office dog and I also have a nice aquarium to look at. I guess overall, working remotely gives me a chance to enjoy the things I work for so much more while still working for more.
See the rest of the FormAssembly team here, and browse the Culture section of our blog for Teammate Highlight Articles.