How to be successful with remote work and Clevertech

At Clevertech we work hard, and we solve even harder problems. We focus on growing in our careers, and with our team. You’ll find that we hold each other accountable, trust one another, and focus on cultivating ourselves in service to our client’s ambitious goals.

We make sure you still have that water cooler talk you crave, cool co-workers, all while making sure you stay challenged, and excited about what you’re doing during your 9-5 or 12-8, depending where you are in the world.

We asked 3 of our CleverPeople to highlight how they’re successful while being remote, and we hope it helps you too!

Meet Donavan, Jake, and Robin!

Left to right: Donovan, Jake, and Robin

Meet Donovan- Donovan is a software architect and project leader with Clevertech. He keeps projects running on time, works on delivering the best products to our clients, and contributes to the codebase. Donovan currently lives in Ballito, South Africa which is an absolutely stunning coastal town with beautiful beaches, perfect weather, and is bursting with culture.

Meet Jake- Jake is a Tech Lead with Clevertech and also works with clients to ensure our products live up to the Clevertech standard. Jake is originally from Australia, but is currently living in British Columbia, Canada. When he’s not working, you can find him brewing beer, or visiting Australia when Canada gets too cold for him.

Meet Robin- Robin is also a Tech Lead and loves working with our internal teams, and with clients. Robin is currently from, and living in, the United Kingdom. Robin’s a pilot, a former British trampolining champion, and has a love for mechanical and electrical engineering. He is also our resident 3D printing guru!

Donovan working with one of his triple Cortados.

Where do you work from?

Donovan: I mostly work from two offices. Being a project lead and contributing to code can be quite tricky based on managing distraction. Mornings I can be found at my local coffee shop (they serve the best triple cortado in town). This is where most of my technical work takes place e.g.: implementing functionality, resolving issues and checking off tasks for the day. From there I head to my home office where I focus more on managing client expectations, and take care of my team’s needs while contributing more to the codebase. I personally find that splitting up the day allows me to deliver an optimum amount of focused work.

Jake: I usually work from a co-working space where other engineers work from in my town. When I’m not working from there, you can find me working out of my home office or coffee shops.

Robin: I work from home, I created an awesome home office that allows me to close the door and focus on my work when I really need to get my head down. It’s designed to promote a calming space that is modern and comfortable. It also rocks an awesome 3D printed Clevertech sign behind me that I made, which looks great while attending video conferences.

What’s your favorite part of being remote?

 Donovan: My favorite part of being remote is being able to deliver my best work consistently. I know it sounds cliché, but being able to find a rhythm that suits me regardless of where I choose to sit and work is what makes me love working remote.

Jake: Flexibility. I really like being able to choose my working hours as well as location. Clevertech just asks that people have a six hour overlap with EST. With that flexibility,  I’m free to travel whenever I want, and can even go for a round of golf during the day and finish up things in the evening.

Robin: Freedom. Not having to wake up at the crack of dawn and rush to work through traffic to try to get to the office in time makes me so happy. I also enjoy that being remote allows me to start my day relaxed, fired up, and ready to blow the day out of the water!

Some of the tools and set ups for Donovan, Jake, and Robin! Calvin decided to make a guest appearance too!

What tools help you succeed in being remote? 

Donovan: I primarily use a large diaphragm condenser mic which allows me to sound really great, with a logitech webcam. For my equipment, I rely on a Macbook Pro 15” 2.2ghz i7 16gb ram which I love for the battery life as my mobile rig. My fixed rig is a 3.2 i7 64gb gt1070 which I use for heavy processing and meetings etc.

Jake: My most important tools:

-Lenovo Carbon X1 Laptop: Great keyboard, excellent linux support and long battery life, perfect for working from coffee shops or airports.  
-A great set of headphones for music while working, as well as meetings. I use Sennheiser HD650’s.
-A good webcam/mic is critical for video calls: I use the logitech C920, great audio/video quality in general.
 

Robin: My whole setup helps me to succeed, and everything serves a purpose. I have a great workspace, and a great camera (Logitech HD Pro C920) that allows clients to feel well connected and build trust. I use my Apple AirPods when I’m working in public spaces since it provides me with some privacy and has great audio and a mic. I also use a Henge dock for my macbook pro that allows me to quite literally pick up my laptop and go. It also connects to my Acer Predator Z35 35" screen, this is great for multi-tasking due to the screen real estate, and also hooks up automatically to my Logitech G502 mouse and Razer BlackWidow X Chroma keyboard.

What you can usually find us wearing on calls

What do you usually wear on a video call with a client?

Donovan: I have a pretty consistent wardrobe to avoid decision fatigue. Aka: I wear pretty much the same outfit every day. It consists of a good looking t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I found that being presentable helps you gain trust with clients and your team. 

Jake: Easy! Tech swag t-shirt and pants.

Robin: You can usually find me in a nice t-shirt or polo! I like to look presentable and professional, but I do also believe that being comfortable while working is important. Clevertech has some great branded swag that we can order and it is super comfortable too. So I will often wear a lot of that while on video calls.

 If you’re a developer and you’re interested in some Clevertech swag, hit us up on Twitter. We’d be honored to have you rep us!

Do you feel like you’re still growing in your career even though you’re remote?

Donovan: Yes very much so! As we all know, technology moves at a pace that consistently requires growth. Working with the latest and greatest frameworks and technologies really pushes me to grow.

Jake: I have a great network of like-minded technical people I rely on. We frequently chat through our technical/process challenges and learn from each other while helping solve problems. Additionally, I am always exploring new technology and learning new things in my free time through online courses, and applying them to an endless stream of side projects.

Robin: Yes, most definitely! More so than when I used to work in an office. There’s more time to learn, a wider variation of projects, and the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best developers as we’re not restricted by location. There’s also a wide variety of time zones worked, so whatever time of day or night I may have a question, there is always someone online. Everyone at Clevertech operates as one big team, and everyone is always happy to jump in and help out! On top of that, Clevertech is always driving personal development and has provided me with some great resources and assistance in growing my own abilities.

Coffee at Jake’s local spot where you can find him working and drinking cappuccinos.

How many cups of coffee do you go through a day?

Donovan: I drink around 7-10 triple cortados in the morning. In the afternoons and evenings I drink about 4 liters of sparkling water.

Jake: Lattes or Cappuccinos in the morning, and around 2-3 more Americanos throughout the day.

Robin: A grand total of… 0. I stopped all caffeine intake about 3.5 years ago, and I feel great! I believe that I’m more productive naturally and much more in tune with my body. It wasn’t easy as I used to drink 6 large cans of energy drinks, coupled with a few mugs of coffee.

What is the most challenging part of being remote?

Donovan: I think the two greatest challenges would be managing distraction and discipline. Having worked remotely in the past I was able to develop techniques that worked for me. Once I figured out what tools work best for me, working remotely is now the only way to work.

Jake: Initially I found the hardest part was maintaining the social aspect that you get through a traditional office environment. I feel like I’ve been able to reproduce the positive social aspects of an office environment without the usual office politics that come with a traditional company.

Robin: I would say the most challenging aspect is creating and maintaining work and personal life boundaries. I simply love what I do here, so I could work all day long! But over my time at Clevertech, I’ve found that it’s important to make time for a personal life too. Being in charge of a project, clients will constantly be looking to speak to me about things, and I pride myself on always being available to respond. Overtime, I found ways to keep this up, but maintain a healthy lifestyle too.

 Where you can find Robin after solving some hard problems at work.

What’s the best part of working with Clevertech?

Donovan: Clevertech is truly an amazing company, and to pick only one attribute is a challenge! I would say the best part is delivering projects which make an impact. I really enjoy delivering a project to a client regardless of how big, small, or how technologically complex it is, it’s highly rewarding. Our clients are awesome!

Jake: I love the effectiveness of the teams here. Our teams are small, and work very close to the problems that our clients face. We work with very little management overhead between the solution and the problem. That means we get to work quickly and solve more interesting problems while making our clients happy. The flexibility of working remote is also huge plus.

Robin: The awesome people. We also work on a variety of projects, and the quality of those projects are incredible. I love being able to work in my own space, and also fly to another country without having to take time off work! When I’m in the middle of solving hard problems and need a break, I enjoy the freedom to jump up and go play my piano in the middle of the day. It makes me so much more productive as my brain has a chance to rest and digest things. The list goes on and on…  

It’s hard to not feel connected when you’re on video calls with your co-workers! 

Do you feel connected to the people you work with?

Donovan: 100%. The teams I’ve worked with in the past are absolutely amazing and often involve a deep connection. A lot of the people I’ve worked with are closer to me than most people I’ve met in person.

Jake: I have worked with some great people at Clevertech. My team has a great personal and professional relationship, and we’re able to give critical feedback when needed but also joke around and support each other.

Robin: Being a product owner, I take great care to ensure that the people on my team know they can trust me. I make sure they can talk to me about anything that is important to them. One of the ways I achieve this is to get to know them on a personal level and show an interest in their life outside of Clevertech. As a team we communicate daily, and always find out what drives them and motivates them. Because of this method of leading a team, I not only feel very connected, but have also built lasting relationships with every one of my teammates.

 If you read this and are excited about the possibility of working with Clevertech, check out our Careers page. We’re hiring, and can’t wait to meet you!

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