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work-from-home must-haves

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I’ve been super lucky to have been working remotely for almost five years now, and I think I’ve gotten it down to a pretty productive science. There’s definitely a lot to be said about creating a workspace that is comfortable for you, but not getting too comfortable. Through a lot of trial and error (and too many days working from my bed,) I thought I’d share some of my most-used products and setups for getting the job done!

I really like ambient background noise, which is funny, because usually that kind of noise pollution while I’m at a coffee shop or something will make me crazy. Ambient-mixer is one of my favorites, but when I’m really struggling to focus, I bring out the big guns: Brain.fm. It’s an AI composer with music and sounds that help you focus, relax, or even sleep. The Beach Focus station is constantly on repeat for me, and I always feel hypermotivated when I have it playing.

In your home office, it can be really easy to think of something in the house that needs to be done, then doing it. Instead, I keep my bullet journal next to me wherever I’m working. This has been more effective for me than any other planning method – even my much-beloved Passion Planner – because it is so customizable. In addition to pages of to-do lists, I also keep my weekly schedule here, including meetings, scheduled breaks, and my weekly work outline. (If I don’t schedule breaks, I don’t take them, and not only does my productivity tank, my burnout hits me like a ton of bricks.)

Not sold on scheduling breaks into your day? Watch this video from Marisa Mohi on how scheduling breaks and sticking to them is an important part of self-care.

Create a dedicated workspace that you enjoy being in. I’m guiltier than anyone for working in bed more often than I should (i.e., at all.) Sometimes it just happens – it’s 1pm and I’ve been typing away since 7 without relocating or moving more than once. It’s important to have a place that isn’t your bed in order to work – trying to condition your brain to be more work-oriented will not only increase your focus, but it will also help you sleep better and improve your posture. Eventually, if you work in bed long enough, your brain and body will be conditioned to work when you’re laying down to sleep, and that’s no good for anybody. (My office is a work in progress, but by the time I’m done, it will feel like you’re on the beach in California – sand in your toes and all.)

Honestly, a dedicated workspace doesn’t even need to be fancy – it can be your kitchen table or a desk in your bedroom. Being in that space is a good physical symbol for your brain that now it’s time to work.

Find a desk that you love (or pop on craigslist to find a cheap one and do a DIY revamp so it becomes a desk you love,) and outfit it with things you want to be surrounded by. A vision board of inspirational quotes or your dream vacation, a candle of your favorite scent, and easy access to your favorite pens – whatever it takes to make it a space you like to spend time. I like a really simple, empty desk – otherwise, I won’t want to sit there. The file organizer that sits on my desk was $1 at Target, as was the wall calendar I have tacked up. I’ll rotate candles out with the season (I’m currently loving Bath & Body Works’ Salt Flower, thanks Dani.) Other than that, there’s not a lot of clutter on my desk.

(Yes, I do have a treadmill desk, but it can be hard to type and walk. I still sit at my old stationary desk pretty often as well when I’m working on copy-heavy projects, like blogging.)

Another thing that can help you get out of bed or off the couch and over to your desk is a mug you love that’s for work only. I have a giant one from my old arena that I love, and I only use it when I’m working at my desk. It’s important to keep a water bottle nearby too – when I moved from an office to a home office, I was constantly dehydrated because I wasn’t drinking water at all. My favorite is this Contigo one, which keeps drinks cold for hours.

Get dressed. I hate this as much as the next person, but to be honest, my work uniform isn’t even that fancy. I get up, put on a sports bra and workout shirt along with workout capris, and call it a day. The act of changing out of my pajamas is all I need to get the creative juices flowing. You could even change out of sleep clothes into sweats – as long as it works for you. This could also be the start of a morning routine – another way to slide into your workday. Get up, maybe do some yoga, start the coffee machine, make breakfast, take your vitamins, say some daily mantras – it’s a good and gentle way to transition from sleep to work.

Lastly, it’s important to have a place to escape to. Luckily I have the option to enjoy my outdoor patio office (since I live in Chicago, I get to do this for about two weeks a year, but still) but sometimes being home at all is too much of a distraction and it’s time to get out of the house. Or maybe the internet has gone out for the tenth time in a day and you can’t deal with one more router reset. Knowing what coffee shops nearby helps because some days you just can’t focus on the work at hand with all those distractions – or the power will go out, the internet goes down, or your neighbors decide that 9am on a Tuesday is the appropriate time to have band practice. Escape to the coffee shop for unlimited caffeine, camaraderie (there’s always someone else working in a coffee shop,) and internet connection.

Do you work remotely? What are your home office must-haves or favorite products?

June 6, 2018
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7 companies hiring work-from-home employees this month: may 2018

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Memorial Day weekend is here! That long weekend-free stretch from January to the end of May is a struggle for me every year – by this point I’m definitely feeling the burnout, and I’m grateful for the refresh. If you’re looking to make a change in your career, you could use this extra time off and the vibes you’ll have after relaxing for a few days to work out your resume, write some awesome cover letters, and apply to some awesome new jobs! Fully distributed companies and teams continue to grow, and even traditional companies are seeing the benefits and offering more work-from-home positions. Here are a few to look into this month!

Part-Time Sales Representative at Museum Hack: I’ve been really interested in Museum Hack for awhile – they offer “renegade” museum tours in cities across America, and their non-tour guide positions are all remote. If you’re looking for something part-time to supplement an existing job, or want to test the work-from-home waters, this position could be a great way to put your customer service skills to use!

Customer Success Manager at monday.com: When dapulse rebranded last year, they chose monday.com as their new company name, and I can’t help but wonder how much that domain name cost. They’re growing exponentially now, and looking for an MST/PST Customer Success Manager to cover their off-hours. The company is based in Tel Aviv, so this would essentially be an overnight coverage position. If you’ve got lots of experience in customer support, this autonomous position with a cool productivity SaaS could be for you!

Virtual Administrative Assistant at Modern Tribe: Virtual assisting has been a great side hustle choice for years, and if you want to transition into making it your full-time gig, Modern Tribe might be looking for you. They’re a digital marketing company that has worked on a ton of really creative projects (Tuniversity is my favorite) and they’re growing their Operations team.

Travel Guide for WOW Air: Talk about a dream job. WOW Air is looking for someone to travel to each of the cities they service and write travel guides for the city. One of my life goals is to be published in an airline magazine, but I would never have thought about an option like this!

Recruiter at Invision: Invision is a collaborative design app, and it’s used by a lot of leading companies. They’re looking for an HR recruiter to hire more engineers for their platform – this is a great opportunity for anyone with a background in SaaS HR and working with developers and engineers.

Analysts Relations Manager at Gitlab: Gitlab is one of my favorite tech companies. They’re inclusive, diverse, and best of all, they’re very transparent about their hiring process. The Analyst Relations Manager will facilitate relationships with Gitlab influencers, research trends and manage outreach programs. Many bloggers participate in influencer programs, so this could be a way to apply the skills we’ve learned from blogging!

Communications Administrative Assistant at 350.org: Passionate about climate change and the environmental crisis it’s causing? 350.org is a non-profit working toward awareness and research of this growing problem. If you’re looking to transition into communications, this is a great way to get your feet wet while using your customer service and organizational skills!

Are you looking for a new, remote job for the summer?

May 25, 2018
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7 companies hiring work from home employees this month: april 2018

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We’ve finally strung together multiple sunny days here in Chicago, so I’m still pretty cautious, but I think I feel safe enough to say that spring is here. Something about the summer has always made it seem like it’s time for new beginnings – and maybe for you, that means a new job. Here are seven current opportunities – many of them don’t even require prior remote experience!

Fan Happiness Associate at Gametime: Gametime is a mobile ticketing platform, and they’re currently hiring in certain states. Preference is given to those with previous remote experience, or in a tech or live entertainment setting, but don’t let that stop you from applying! If you enjoy providing excellent quality customer service and solving problems (often time-sensitive), this could be the gig for you.

Customer Support Associate at CareMessage: This company is a nonprofit that helps make healthcare more accessible to underserved or rural communities. As a CSA, you’ll help customers find answers, troubleshoot issues in the software, and work with the engineering team to implement user requests. They also have a clear 1/3/6 month plan for new employees, which helps to eliminate some of the stress and imposter syndrome associated with starting a new position. Knowing what the company expects from you helps a lot!

Beauty Writer at Elite Daily/Bustle: This one screams for beauty bloggers or Sephora VIBs to apply. I love mindlessly browsing Bustle, and I’ve found some great beauty suggestions here – if you’re always getting your friends hooked on new beauty items, this is the writing job for you. Bonus if you have a background in commerce writing (if you’re a blogger who uses affiliate links, that’s probably you!)

Support Team Manager at Trello: I’ve long loved Trello, and their company culture sounds just as great as the product. Apply for this position to manage the support team, develop strategies to improve customer retention and acquisition, and manage daily operations, among other tasks.

Customer Success Manager at monday.com: If you’re in the PST/MST time zone and have excellent self-management skills, this customer-facing role with Saturday hours could be a great way to launch a remote career.

Lead Editor, Home Office at The Wirecutter: If you love home office tech gear and writing about it, this could be your “in” to work with the New York Times. They’re looking for an editor to manage and assign projects freelance staff, project manage content, and interact with the community. Sounds pretty cool for my gear-loving nerd head!

Customer Success Specialist at TaxJar: I’ve been learning a lot lately about taxes, and that’s all due to TaxJar. If you have a retail background, some remote work experience, and very patient, this could be a great option for you to build your support resume!

One of my favorite resources for freelance gigs is AND CO’s The Gig List. Every week they send an email with ten freelance opportunities – while they aren’t all remote options, many of them are (and they always find really cool options and companies!)

If you’re looking for freelance writing jobs, check out this post with tons of websites that pay for your submissions – or check out Contena, where you can search hundreds of new, legitimate writing and editing jobs every day.

April 27, 2018
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7 companies hiring work from home employees this month: march 2018

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This month as I continue on with my Skillcrush class, I’m focusing a bit more on the development side of the remote world. While it’s still possible to find plenty of customer support jobs (so you can start working from home without any previous experience!)

Developer Program Manager at GitLab: This tech company has a great reputation and reviews from employees. The program manager is responsible for growing the community of GitLab developers, working to improve open source contribution and work on educational programs.

QA Analyst at Modern Tribe: If you like breaking things, finding mistakes, and getting them corrected before a product is shipped, QA might be the life for you. Apply for this position with Modern Tribe, a digital agency that creates some really cool campaigns and websites – QA can be a really great opportunity for employees looking to make a jump from support to dev.

Release Manager at Analytics Fire: Always dreamed of being a rocket scientist… kinda? Analytics Fire builds software for companies in solar power, and that’s kind of the same thing. If you have a lot of experience in Ruby, Python, and React, the primary role of this position is communicating with clients to ensure smooth product launches.

Growth Product Manager at Creative Market: I love Creative Market and download the free goods every Monday (click here for those!) They considering remote candidates from specific states for this position that works with departments across the company to implement ways to measure metrics and grow the userbase.

Developer Evangelist at Twilio: Have a hardware product background but prefer to write about things, rather than create them? Twilio is looking for someone to create content for their blog and social channels, speak and volunteer at relevant events and conferences, and building partnerships with companies and developers. If I had the experience (and was at all considering leaving my position, which I don’t see happening ever!) this sounds like a great role.

Web Developer at Pennsylvania State University: Penn State’s teaching department is looking for a developer with two years experience in Ruby. I see a position at a university and all I can think of is FREE EDUCATION, but, you know, maybe that’s just me and my desperate desire to go to grad school.

Site Reliability Engineer at DuckDuckGo: DuckDuckGo is the search engine that protects users’ privacy – a pretty hot topic, considering. They’re looking for another engineer to keep the site online and stable including building updates and scoping new projects.

One of my favorite resources for freelance gigs is AND CO’s The Gig List. Every week they send an email with ten freelance opportunities – while they aren’t all remote options, many of them are (and they always find really cool options and companies!)

If you’re looking for freelance writing jobs, check out this post with tons of websites that pay for your submissions – or check out Contena, where you can search hundreds of new, legitimate writing and editing jobs every day.

March 30, 2018
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7 companies hiring work from home employees this month: august 2017

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This month’s remote job roundup is support and content heavy, as normal – with a few big name companies included. You might not even realize that places like Snapchat or TED hire remote workers, but they do – and they’re hiring now! Update that resume and dedicate some time this weekend working on your job search!

Operations Manager at The Engine Room: Here’s a secret: I’ve always wanted to work in operations. In high school, I would think and think: “what kind of job organizes things? How can I spend my life getting people where they need to go?”Tour managers, for sure. Event planners? When I moved to Virginia and worked at the arena, I learned about the operations department. Their entire jobs are dedicated to strategizing and planning. If this is something you enjoy, this job with The Engine Room might be for you!

Customer Support & Happiness at Later: I just read a book about women in technology that talked a lot about working at a startup. I’ve never had the interest, but this customer support opening at Later isn’t strictly service. You’ll be doing technical writing, triaging bugs, and working with the engineering team to work on a new product.

Operations Support Specialist at Karat: Karat is a company working to ease the hiring process in engineering. They’re looking for some evening and weekend support on their operations team – you’ll be developing communication protocols, assisting on interviews, and working to ensure quality. Operations Support Specialists also provide customer support, addressing any questions applicants have. This is a great opportunity for anyone with some HR experience who is looking to go remote! 

Copy Editor at Snapchat: Yep, you can work remotely even for companies like Snapchat. This part-time contract position for a copy editor sounds really fun, and requires evening and weekend availability to cover the current entertainment news. You’ll be creating copy and editing graphics and filters for their Our Stories feature, and collaborating with the Content team to provide marketing assets that are pitch-perfect and on brand.

Marketing Manager at Code HS: If you’re passionate about technology and education, you’re probably familiar with Code HS. It’s an organization that makes it easier for schools to teach coding, with full curriculum and support. They’re looking for a marketing manager to spread the word through traditional routes, and favor those with a technical bent due to the nature of the product. If you have a blog, that includes you!

Customer Support Specialist at FormAssembly: Customer support jobs typically have the lowest barriers to entry for someone who is just starting a career with a remote position. Nearly everyone has some kind of customer service position on their resume, whether it’s in retail, serving, or a summer job at a golf course. FormAssembly gets great reviews from employees, and could be a fun and friendly place to start your new remote lifestyle.

User Experience Designer at TED: This job requires a bit more prior technical experience than I typically share here, but it’s such a cool one I couldn’t resist. TED Talks is looking for a new designer for user flows, UI mockups, running usability tests, and more. If you have a web and graphic design background, this would be an awesome chance to work at a really fun and influential non-profit!

August 4, 2017
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