Today, we’re sharing our interview with Alexander Harling, the Head of Operations at Dynamite Jobs, connecting remote companies and remote talent.
Alexander Harling has been working remotely for the past three years. He studied economics at the University of New Hampshire but decided to pursue a career that would give him the freedom and lifestyle he wanted.
He started with tutoring online and learned as much as he could about business and marketing until he began doing contract remote sales and marketing projects. Today he is Head of Operations at Dynamite Jobs where he is thrilled to help remote companies and professionals connect. Alexander and his girlfriend, Lina (who also works remotely), have been traveling through South America this year and plan on spending the second half of the year in Morocco, Greece, Thailand, and Vietnam.
How Does Your Remote Workday Look Like?
My days are mostly full of meetings and I try to schedule them earlier to get the day off to a good start. However, my days are flexible so sometimes I’ll spend the nights instead of the days working. I do my best to make sure I finish the projects I had planned for that week and fit in the hours necessary, but generally, I am more results-focused than hours.
The flexibility is great but I don’t like to shake things up that much because then my schedule is all out of whack. I don’t like to change locations that often either. I do my best to stay somewhere at a minimum one month so I can best plan out my weeks.
What Tools Do You Use to Get Things Done?
Evernote, Airtable, and Google Drive. I used to be on the search for the king of all tools to give me the best productivity. In reality, it comes down to discipline and focusing on the work, not necessarily the tools.
Of course, there are projects where you need to implement certain tools and software, but day to day I focus on using fewer tools to have more time to do good work.
What’s the Biggest Challenge of Remote Work?
Integrity. You have to know how to have a productive day, stay focused, and communicate. A lot of people who have to report to an office think that location independent workers can travel all the time but that’s not the case. Yes, I’ve been in Peru the past two months seeing all the sites I want to see, but that’s just on the weekends. I still spend the working week putting in the time and getting good work done. It can be very tempting to just skip a day of work and relax, but remote work is about meaningful, results-driven work. Your team relies on you and have to do things you said you were going to do.
Remote work is very isolating. It is not meant for everyone. It’s too easy to stay inside your apartment all day working and hide yourself from the world. As a remote worker, you have to get yourself out of the house and interact with your community. When you’re traveling and switching places it can be hard to maintain friendships and can even more isolating when you don’t have a group of friends nearby.
What Are the Advantages of Remote Work?
Flexibility and trust. Remote work is about meaningful work. There are advantages to having an office but when you’re working remotely, you have to show your work, not just show up. People who are able to work remotely are able to lead the lifestyle they want and pursue things that may not be possible when you have to remote to an office 9-5 M-F.
For companies that buy into remote work, they have access to talent all over the world. Companies who are based in one city only have access to talent in a certain proximity. If your company has a remote team, they can pursue the best talent all over the world. Anyone who has grown a company knows how important it is to have access to talent. It’s also cheaper, no need for an office.
What’s the Future of Remote Work?
I think the future relates to the advantages. People are looking for more work-life balance and remote can assist with that. More and more companies will offer the option to work from home a few days a week, but I believe as companies are looking for more talent and it becomes scarcer, they will bring on remote team members. New companies and future ones that haven’t yet been created will start as remote from the beginning. I don’t see massive companies switching to remote, but see them experimenting with it.
Cities that want to solve a lot of problems like pollution, congestion, traffic, and even affordable housing can incentive companies to go remote. Why is rush hour terrible? Because everyone is trying to get to work. Imagine if half of those employees were remote. Imagine the impact that would have on cities. Many schools are 100% online, those are “remote schools.”
Just as traditional schools introduced technology into classrooms, I think they will introduce remote work from home days. A lot of productivity is lost due to weather in some areas in the world, if students and employees could work from home on those days, productivity would increase.
What Made You Consider Remote Work?
The idea of 9-5, climbing a corporate ladder, wasting my life away… I had a lot of terrible visions while in college of what life would be like after I graduated.
I thought the only way to have control of your life was to run a company or make a lot of money and retire early. I was always told to follow my passion (a lot of people are) but I think we shouldn’t confuse passion with what you do to make a living.
I began to realize that what I did to make a living should give me means to live the life I want and doesn’t need to define me. I watched a lot of videos online, listened to podcasts, and read books about how to become a remote worker, freelance, start a company, etc. – all the things I thought were what I needed to do to have control of my time.
I began to learn about all the types of companies and work that there is to do. There are so many types of lives you can lead and live! It’s amazing what they don’t teach you in college. The Tropical MBA Podcast was my biggest inspiration. The hosts, Dan and Ian, talk about the many location independent companies out there and I began to learn about all the different options, the skills I needed, and the path I needed to follow slowly started to form. Funny enough, I now work for them! They own Dynamite Jobs.
What Are Your Favorite Destinations in the World?
This is always a challenging question. I’ve been traveling fairly extensively for the past 5 years. There are some places I visited 5 years ago and I’ve now recently returned to and they are more special to me and mean different things.
Paris is a good example, I’ve visited a few times and each time I’ve stayed a little longer and with different people. I didn’t care for it much at first and now I love it! I’m sure 5 years from now I’ll think very differently about some of the places I love now.
I am a big fan of Malaga, Spain. It’s fairly accessible, I love the city and the beaches, it has my favorite wine in the world, it’s affordable, and I have great friends there. Malaga is the kind of place I’d like to live for a long time.
I also love Bogota, Colombia is very different than Malaga. It’s affordable, the people are so much fun (they also know how to dance and cook), and I find the city interesting.
I also really love Morocco and Lina and I are planning on doing a remote month tour there in August. I love the entire country. It’s adventurous, amazing food, and so much different than anything I’ve known my entire life. Peru is similar to Morocco in the sense of the diversity of adventurous things to do. I love it here in Peru too…
I could go on and on about places but what I recommend depends on the qualities you’re looking for. Where I’d like to go on vacation is probably very different from where I’d like to spend 2-3 months of living and working.
What People Who Want to Work with You Need to Have?
I’ve made a few hires for our company and currently helping hundreds of remote companies hire through Dynamite Jobs. The biggest thing I look for is a person’s motivation to work for a company and where they are at in their life.
A lot of people are excited by the idea of working remotely but don’t understand remote work culture or have enough integrity yet. Their motivation, lifestyle, and goals are important to consider. I also look for people who have work experience or have been working on some sort of team. People need to be flexible and communicate.
In terms of skills, it depends on the position of course, but you should be able to show that you can figure things out and are willing to take on new challenges or responsible. I’m not looking for anyone who is going to say “that’s not my job.”