Insights on Working Remotely - Jordan Carroll

remote work May 08, 2021
Mark Struczewski, Jordan Carroll

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As The Remote Job Coach, Jordan Carroll has helped hundreds of individuals on their journey to find remote work. He's worked for over 6 years remotely in the US and while traveling internationally. During that time he's had experiences at a Fortune 50 company, multiple start-ups, and his own businesses. He's a member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

TRANSCRIPT

Mark Struczewski
We're going to be talking about remote work. Now, have you heard about the COVID pandemic?

Jordan Carroll
Maybe in passing...

Mark Struczewski
A lot of people work remotely—a lot of people like the idea of working remotely. A lot of people don't like to work remotely; they want to be with other human beings. So let's talk about remote work. How do you see the landscape of it right now?

Jordan Carroll
I don't think right now is true remote work. This is pandemic work from home, you know, being forced into your home, being away from everybody else kind of remote work. So it's not true remote work in that sense, where I think a lot of people who've been exposed now for the first time to work from home, they may not like it because of the environment that remote work is taking place in. But I think for the future, I think what we're seeing is that people realize maybe there's an industry, or a company or a role where for so many years, they were told that it's not even possible. And now, when you're forced to do it, you find it actually can be done. But you don't really like it, because you're forced to be here. So I'm interested to see once all the dust settles and people can actually be remote by choice.

Mark Struczewski
Very interesting how you said that this is more of a pandemic remote work than true remote works. I've never heard that before. So let's talk about the pluses and the minuses of remote work. We're not talking about pandemic remote work.

Jordan Carroll
I always like starting off with a negative and end with a positive.

Mark Struczewski
Okay, so go ahead and talk to us. Give us your insights and your thoughts on the negative negatives of working remotely.

Jordan Carroll
Well, I'll give you one, Mark. Remember when we were going to first do this podcast? I live down here in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, where the infrastructure is pretty good. But every month or two, we'll have these times where we just lose power for a day or so, and you can't really predict it. About an hour before we were scheduled to record, the power went out. And I thought, I know Mark is serious about his audio, so I don't want to be trying to run on my cell phone. So I think that that's one I think for people who do want to have that face-to-face interaction, do want to have that collaboration. Having the remote setup is hard. And for different people, remote work is not a great thing. I don't want to give you the impression that remote work is good for everybody because it's certainly not.

Mark Struczewski
And, of course, Zoom fatigue is real. I have clients who are in meetings all day long. And in one of the meetings, invariably, they talk about how they're not getting work done. And I'm thinking to myself; if I were on that Zoom meeting and talking to the leader, I'd say that's because your staff is in Zoom meetings all day. There's a clue. If they're in zoom meetings, they can't do their work.

Jordan Carroll
Exactly. And this goes to the concept, and you're a productivity guy, so you know about deep work and getting to a place where you can be able to do that is actually harder for people who first start off with remote work. And they haven't done, they haven't had to have the self-motivation. Maybe they've had other situations where they work in an office, and they have the pressure of management and collaborators and colleagues. So then they feel like, Oh, I have to get work done. I have to. I have someone over my shoulder, so I'm going to get it done. But then, when you're by yourself, and you're in your room, and Netflix is a couple of feet away, it could be really easy to just turn the TV on. And I think having that self-motivation for people who don't have that, at least at the beginning, it's a learning curve, like anything else. And it was for me when I first started with remote work, I was one of those people, I'd work on my bed. And then, like, I joined in on an audio call, and I would just leave it next to my head and would fall asleep because I didn't have to talk very much in some of those calls. So I would just be on it to look good.

Mark Struczewski
True Confessions from Jordan Carroll. Yeah. Yeah. I remember those before the video calls, I remember you dial the number, and it'd be what they called teleconferencing. And I remember those calls. And here's the problem. Not everyone is conditioned to work from home. The people who are struggling to work from home because there are a lot of temptations, also known as distractions from home, the dishwasher, the laundry, and you have to be disciplined to resist that. And so some people are just not equipped. I'm not saying they're bad employees; they're just not good work from home people.

Jordan Carroll
And they just haven't set up the environment in a way where it's conducive for them to avoid those temptations. So if you don't have a dedicated space, you don't have the discipline, as you mentioned, I think it can be very difficult.

Mark Struczewski
So let's flip this over. What are the positives of working from home? And I don't know if you want to break this down between entrepreneurs and corporate, but I'll let you handle that. So let's talk about the positives of work from home.

Jordan Carroll
I think the way that I would break it down is actually the level of remote right. So for me in particular, I can work wherever in the world, which is maybe different than someone who is working for a company and can only work in a certain state or city. So there are completely different levels of remote, and 95% of remote jobs have a geo-restriction. So they're either restricted to a country, they're restricted to a timezone, they're restricted to something because companies have certain tax or legal restrictions to the ability to hire people in different places. So the way that I would kind of break down, some of the benefits are like, how remote is it, right? If we think about just working from home, that obviously offers a great amount of flexibility for people who want to be around their family, and you want to be around their pets want to be in a place where they can make their own meals, I mean, even just the ability to go to the gym, during the day, in a time where maybe you would have previously been at the office in a meeting or just sitting at your desk. But that's a better time for you to go to the gym. I mean, that's awesome, right? Like that's, it's such a, it's such a big relief for people who have been in that nine to five in the cubicle, and they're like, Oh, I could just go to the gym right now at lunch. That's, that's really cool. So that's definitely that that freedom, that flexibility is a huge benefit. And then you look at the other, the other extreme of that of the fully remote life from anywhere. It's like I can live from Mexico. That's pretty cool. And so that's a huge benefit for me because I live in a place where I'm a few minutes from the beach. And, you know, obviously, there are some differences in quality of living here that I can again attain with the US dollar. So all my clients are, you know, from the US.

Mark Struczewski
We live in a global society now. So there are people I remember, Tim Ferriss wrote a book called The Four-Hour Workweek, and he was the first person to talk about Virtual Assistants and how if you're in the US, you can have someone in the Philippines work on a project, you wake up and poof, you got work done while you slept. But what I find interesting about working from home is, most people, to your point earlier, were forced into this due to the pandemic. They didn't have a dedicated workspace; they probably were at the kitchen table or wherever. And I think they went through phases. I think, first of all, they're like, okay, I don't know what's going on. I, you know, they're trying to keep all the plates up in the air. But as it went on weeks, in the months into a year, I think, no one knows for sure. But I think what happened; they started letting their guard down, you know, maybe they didn't get up and get ready for work, they just showed up, they wake up at 8:59 and at 9:00, they're on Zoom; you can tell by their hair, of course, I don't have any hair. But you know, they didn't take it seriously. And I believe that when you're working from home, you should treat it like a real job. So if you normally get up in the morning, and you take a shower, or you have breakfast, take a shower, go for a run, then do that. Don't stop doing that. Because then I think you have a different mindset. When you go into your workday, do you agree with that?

Jordan Carroll
100%. Routines can create that consistency and discipline in our lives. And when we have things that we know that we're going to do every single morning, that gives us the structure, and also the feeling like, Okay, I know what I'm going to do this morning, I'm not going to just use this extra time to sleep. And that's frankly, again, that's what I had done. That's what I did when I first started. So I don't blame people for that as they make the transition. But to get to your point, it's good too if you do those things, the running the breakfast, the whatever it is that you do in the morning meditation, keep those habits up. And try to imagine what the ideal day is. I try to always think of what's my ideal day if I were to just have a day. That's going to be incredible; what happens on that day? And then do the best that I can to create that every day.

Mark Struczewski
Now, do you coach people differently if they are entrepreneurs vs. corporate people who work from home? Is there a difference? Or is it the same thing?

Jordan Carroll
Yes, it's a different ballgame, being an entrepreneur. So we want to recognize the specific challenges to each person's specific case. And I find that there are a lot of, it's much easier to create a program that's got kind of consistent structure for people that are looking for a remote job than people that are entrepreneurs because I find that people are in very different parts of their entrepreneurial journey. And whether you're like pre-revenue, and don't even have an offer or a product or service yet, versus You know, you're already making 510 $15,000 a month; there's a very different place, you want to try to take that person. And so, but as far as a job, yeah, people are going to be in different places in their job search. But I see a lot of the same things. So that there wasn't, it's much, it's been much easier for me to create a consistent, structured product and service for people that are looking for Remote Jobs.

Mark Struczewski
And of course, when you work for a corporation, you get a salary and entrepreneurial world, if you don't work, if you just go to the beach all day, or binge watch Netflix, there's no money coming in. And so I think with entrepreneurs who know, they're mainly listened to my show, that there's more of a sense of urgency. So when you're in a corporate world, you have a good day, a bad day doesn't matter, you shouldn't get the same paycheck because most people work remotely are probably not hourly; certainly, some are but not most of them are probably getting a salary. But when you're an entrepreneur like you and I are, that's where the rubber meets the road. And if you aren't working, you aren't getting paid.

Jordan Carroll
Yeah, and I think that's why it's so important to try to, like you said, find ways that work gets done without you. So whether that's leveraging outsourcing or delegation or creating assets that produce income, you know, without your hours, that's really where I've been focusing this past year and have found, you know, quite a bit of success in doing that. So that if I do have an off day, or I do have a day, or I want to, I do want to go to the beach all day, and I do want to hang out chill, and I mean, I'm burnt out, and I just need to need to have that time away from the screen. Then at least there's still something coming in.

Mark Struczewski
I talk about this a lot. I want the entrepreneurs out there to think about the question, why are you doing the things you're doing? Do they need to be done? Some people get into working from home as an entrepreneur, and they're doing all these things. When they come to me, and I say I don't understand why you are doing all these things. Like read an article on Entrepreneur magazine? Like, no, no, no. Why are you doing it? And I think people don't understand what needs to get done. And what I encourage people do get to, like, you know, your thoughts on this, get a notebook, get a pen, go someplace quiet and take a What do I need to work on? What are my priorities every day? Instead of just winging it, I think one of the worst things you can do as an entrepreneur, especially when you're working remotely, is just to wing it; I don't think that's going to serve you. It's not going to serve your customers, not going to serve your mindset. So what say you?

Jordan Carroll
Yeah, it's required for the people that I work with. And I have two specific examples. There's the productivity planner and the Five Minute Journal are the two things that I recommend highly to people. But even if it's not those two, then it's just writing things down; I find that gratitude is a minimum daily practice that you need to have; I find that writing out the three most important things that you need to do is a very effective thing. And then also having weekly and monthly recaps because you can iterate and pivot on what it is that's happened. And I have a couple of different methodologies for doing that. I have a metric spreadsheet where I keep track of every single thing that, like all the most important KPIs of my business, I keep track of every single week. And then yeah, you can, it's hard to, it's hard to know what to fix if you don't know what's going on. So So having that awareness, having the daily reflection, the weekly reflection, the monthly reflection, I think that those things, and then even quarterly, and I have a mastermind where we go over that stuff as well. And then you have that accountability along with tracking things. It sets you up to have those days where maybe even they don't feel like they're that productive, at least you're going in the right direction, you're getting a little bit of momentum, as opposed to just winging it.

Mark Struczewski
And for those of you who are not familiar with KPI, it's key performance indicator, and I want to make sure that we have served someone there. So was there anything else on your heart that you'd like to share with the audience today about what you do? Or maybe how can we find out about you shared some of that with us?

Jordan Carroll
Sure, yeah. I think the best place to find anything, for me, is TheRemoteJobCoach(dot)com. Everything links out from there. So that's kind of the homepage of all things remote work for me, and I specifically help people find Remote Jobs. But I also do work with entrepreneurs who are looking to start a remote coaching business. But I did want to plug shamelessly this, this program that I just started that I think you'd be obsessed with. It's called Building a Second Crain by Tiago Forte, you know him?

Mark Struczewski
I am not. I'm not familiar with him.

Jordan Carroll
Okay. So, Mark, you're gonna go into like a spiral now into this guy's stuff. I think he's; I think he's right up your alley, man. It's Forte, Forte Labs. And this guy, he basically goes through the entire digital organization, capturing, you know, making sure you understand what is actually important—and building a system around information, basically digital information, because there is so much of it. So it's something that we just started; it was like a week, one of the cohorts right now. And I just thought you'd really love it. So I thought I'd bring it up. But man, it's he has a bunch of articles two on one stuff. So it's easy to kind of dig into his thoughts and the way that he sees the world. But it's just so important that when you are working remotely, and whether you're an entrepreneur, whether you're a remote worker that you have systems around, and structures around everything, like your workday, how you're doing things like just build those structures. I know that resonates with you, Mark, but for people out there, you don't know where to start; just do what's intuitive to you. Don't feel like you always have to go copy someone, like do what's intuitive to you and do what's easy. I use the Notes app on iPhone a lot for a lot of different things. And instead of thinking, Oh, I have to go get this whole other app and do this, like I already used that a ton. So let me find a way to use that. And systemize that in a way that makes sense to me. So I recommend the same for other people.

Mark Struczewski
Yeah, I love that. And you know you mentioned those two planners. I've used so many planners over the years. Now what I've done is I, I've really liked using my bullet journal because with a bullet journal, I can customize it the way I want it. So a lot of my guests will send me journals, and I'll, I'll say why I like this one spot, I put this in my bullet journal. So I only have one journal, I take all my notes in there, I plan to do is everything's in there, I bring with me everywhere. And I use archival, waterproof, fade-proof ink. So if I drop it in the puddle, it's all going to be there, which is really important. Because if you use regular felt tip pens, and it gets wet, it's destroyed. So something to think, think about there. So But to your point, you got to find something that works for you. I mean, Jordan gave you his ideas, you know, my ideas at this concert or other ideas out there, but find what works for you. Because when you find what works for you, you're going to use it. So, Jordan, any last words of wisdom you want to leave with us?

Jordan Carroll
Today? Yeah, just take the first small step, right? It may seem like all the stuff that we talked about today is big and grandiose. And if you're working at home and you don't feel like you're as productive, the first small step might be just relocating, where you're working, like don't work on the bed or so find that first small step to get to the next place that you may need to be in. And don't feel like it has to be this big thing.

Mark Struczewski
Yes. And speaking of beds, there are only two things you should be doing in bed; having sex and sleeping. So unless you are making money having sex, or sleeping, go work someplace else. That includes watching TV or playing video games. That's not what the bed is for. So I'm just glad you got a chuckle out of that.

 

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