“I haven’t met my team in person yet, but I already feel like I’ve known most of them forever. That’s the power of the Internet!”
Buckets‘ Content & Social Media Marketing Manager, Gráinne Logue, initially started freelancing with the company just over a year ago and then transitioned into a full-time remote position.
Gráinne enjoys being able to travel and explore new destinations while working remotely, but she’s glad to be back in the one place for now. She recently returned to her home city of Dublin, Ireland, after spending several months in Toronto, Canada. We caught up with Gráinne to find out more about her remote role and the Buckets’ distributed team.
Tell us about Buckets
Buckets is an online collaboration and productivity platform that can be used for everything from project management and team collaboration to keeping track of your everyday personal to do lists. The Buckets head office is in Seattle and we’re a partly distributed company with 12 team members (and a dog!) spread across Seattle, Mexico, the Philippines, and Ireland – where I am at the moment. Roughly 70% of team members work remotely.
How long have you worked remotely?
I’d been freelancing full-time for about a year before I started working with Buckets and I worked with a number of clients during that period. Previous to working remotely/from home, I’ve spent over 10 years building up in-house experience in marketing, business development, advertising, and content writing.
How did you find your current remote job?
Mike (Buckets co-founder/CEO) got in touch with me via Twitter after reading a few of my published articles and following my Twitter feed. I started off with a few blog posts and it took off from there. Initially, it was a bit of a balancing act because I was managing my freelance workload with what was turning into a full-time role. It quickly came to a point where I had to cut down on my other work commitments to focus solely on Buckets.
Where do you work from?
I manage all of my work projects/ to do lists/ checklists in the Buckets app and I communicate with the team via Buckets and Slack, so I can work anywhere once I have Wifi. I know it’s the hip thing to work in coworking spaces and coffee shops, but I seriously don’t know how people focus in Starbucks! When I’m writing, I need a distraction free space.
I love working from home but also having the flexibility to work ‘from home’ wherever I please – whether that’s in Dublin or wherever in the world I am at the time. In my place in Dublin, I’ve a desk area where I do most of my work, but I’m also prone to whipping out the laptop on the sofa or when I’m still wrapped up in bed in the morning! That’s what’s so great about working remotely, you can literally work from anywhere at anytime – whenever you feel at your most productive.
I prefer to organize my work in blocks of time; so I’ll usually do some work in the morning, then take a few hours to chill out or hit the gym, and come back to it in the afternoon – which is when the guys in Seattle are waking up, so that works out pretty well.
What tools and systems do you use to stay connected?
I use Buckets to keep track of everything that’s going on within the team, i.e. to manage my own projects, have brainstorming sessions, collaborate on projects I’m a member of, and stay up to date with what’s going on with our app developments and updates.
There’s a new feature in Buckets called the Sandbox which I find really useful because it allows me to instantly jot down any ideas or project notes on the go; I just open the app and log my notes in the Sandbox straightaway so that they don’t slip through the net. Then I can come back to those items later, and decide whether to assign them into projects or just delete them.
In addition to Buckets, I also use Slack on a daily basis for communicating with the team. Google Docs is my go-to for writing and sharing content. Zendesk covers our customer support so I can keep tabs on any issues our members are having whilst using the system. And Buffer is pretty important when it comes to managing our social media – especially as I’m working remotely and there’s the timezone to deal with.
Do you ever meet in person with your team?
I haven’t met my team in person yet, but I already feel like I’ve known most of them forever. That’s the power of the Internet!
We’re still a pretty small team so we haven’t arranged any social events on a company scale… yet. Mike and Eric (the co-founders) have been out in Mexico and the Philippines to meet up with the design and development teams, though.
Although we haven’t all met in person, we get on really well. And to be honest, these are some of the soundest people I’ve ever worked with. Oh and ‘sound’ meaning; ‘most down to earth, hard-working, friendly, and fun’. There’s some Irish slanguage for you!
How has working remotely changed your life?
Ah, it’s been amazing. Honestly, the freedom and flexibility that it’s given me has completely changed my life. I did the whole 9-5 thing for a long time – over 10 years. I worked in some great companies, and I enjoyed my work, but I never loved the whole ‘corporate vibe’. I was always the girl in the office kicking off her heels for her Converse when 5pm came around!
Working remotely means that I can wear whatever is comfortable, work when I’m at my most productive (often midday to evening for me), and work in an environment that sure as hell beats an office cubicle! I suffer from sciatic pain, so sitting in an office chair all day would make that even worse; but because I work from home, I can take regular mini breaks to go for a walk or do some stretches and foam rolling!
Ultimately, working remotely has allowed me to be myself and design my working day around how ‘I’ work best, and that’s something that’s increased both my productivity and creativity in spades. On top of that, it’s given me the opportunity and financial means to travel and see the world whilst doing what I love!
What has been your greatest achievement working remotely?
Definitely getting approached to work with Buckets! Do you know what the very best thing about that was? They got in touch with me because they’d noticed my Twitter feed, and I’ve always had this thing about being completely authentic on Twitter. I don’t shill; I don’t do endless self-promotion; I’m just myself. I share stupid memes that I find hilarious, I rant about the things that grind my gears, and I talk about my day to day life.
I’ve never wanted to have 100000 followers whom I never interact with, what would be the point of that? I use Twitter to find like-minded people who share my interests and values and who are fun to talk to – because that’s how you build relationships. Not via auto-DM. In Buckets, we have the same mentality; it’s all about engaging with your community like a real human being.
Oh, and can I add one more thing that ties into that? Where I am now is all down to the success I had when I first started freelancing; I managed to pitch and land gigs from the outset and it wasn’t long before I had clients coming to me instead of the other way around. I didn’t realise what a big thing that was at the time and I think it’s because I had a lot of confidence due to my work experience.
It’s something I get asked about a lot; ‘how do I get into freelancing or becoming a remote worker/digital nomad’, and I truly think it’s simply about having belief in yourself and your abilities. I built up a portfolio of freelance work pretty quickly and I probably wouldn’t be working with Buckets now if it wasn’t for the work I put in back then. So if anyone needs some pointers in the right direction, check out this article I wrote on finding remote work and how to use Buckets to manage your client list!
What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
When you first start out as a freelancer, you can end up taking on too much work because you don’t feel secure enough about the contracts you have in place. It’s understandable, but it’s also a one track road to burn-out city. Before I started working with Buckets, I’d sometimes find myself working 24/7 one week and then spending the next week freaking out about finding a new gig. Then, it got to a point where I was being offered extra work but I didn’t want to turn it down and I didn’t want to give it away either, so I was working seriously long hours. But you start to figure things out pretty quickly if you throw yourself in the deep end – you have no choice! It doesn’t take long to nail down a schedule and a way of working that works for you.
Re: remote work in general, I think that ‘switching off’ is a big one. It can be hard to let yourself switch off when your work is so accessible and you can be logged in 24/7. Working in Buckets, I try to be available as much as possible because I’m sensitive to the fact that everyone is on a different schedule to me, but I always make sure that I have room for ‘downtime’ during my week and that I make myself stick to it!
What skills do you think people need to be successful remote workers?
I think you need to have a very strong awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses and also know where you have room to improve. You’ll need to be comfortable and confident with working autonomously, taking control of your own schedule, and prioritizing/ managing your own day, so good time management skills are pretty essential.
In terms of communication, you need to learn to ‘over-communicate’ because it’s something that’s par for the course when it comes to remote work; you’d be surprised at how much difference a smiley emoticon can make to an IM! And you need to be okay with asking the tough questions, e.g. if you’re not sure what you’re doing with a project then you have to ask, and if you’re still not sure – you have to ask again.
And finally, you need the proper tools in place to allow you to work at your most productive in a remote setting. Using Buckets has been a key part of empowering myself as a remote worker because I can manage every single aspect of my workload (and my day) all in the one place, which makes things much less stressful and a lot more organized! By using reminders and labels to prioritize my tasks, I can basically colour code my day!
Do you have any other advice for a job seeker looking for a remote job?
Work with what you know. I see so many threads by people looking for advice on how to get a remote gig or become a digital nomad, and rather than focusing on the skills they already have – they’re asking about what new skills they have to learn. Why not utilize the skills and experience you’ve already built up in your career to find a remote based job? Search for jobs that you’re actually passionate about, and not just because they’ll allow you to work remotely.
And also – let people know! If you’re on the lookout for a remote gig, start sharing that across your social media channels. You never know who might spot it and snap you up! I often get queries re: freelance or remote-based work that I can’t take on, and I always refer it to other solid professionals I know who are on the lookout. But how will anyone know you’re available for work if you don’t tell them? Oh, and if you get a Skype interview, dress for the occasion – seriously. It’s no different to a normal job interview and you should present yourself just as well.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes! At Buckets, we’re launching our new iOS app week beginning 6th March 2017, and I’d love for you guys to check it out. We’ve updated the UI to provide a more streamlined experience for our users and everything is that little bit more intuitive.
If you’re interested in checking it out, you can download it here from the app store. In the meantime, don’t be shy and come say Hi over on Twitter @bucketsdotco! You can also connect with me personally @grainnelogue and I’d be happy to answer any Q’s you have about working remotely.