Henry O'Loughlin
Consultant
December 14, 2020

Interview with Henry, a consultant who found remote work by saying No

Sometimes a "no" can lead to an exceptional opportunity. For Henry, that answer led to an ideal remote work career. In this interview, Henry shares his remote work tool stack, and essential tip for remote employees and managers.

How did you get started with remote work?

A friend of mine, based in the small town of Rockland, Massachusetts, was trying to hire a marketing strategist at his agency. He couldn't attract anyone to work in Rockland (the talent pool was too small), so he asked if I wanted to move from California to Massachusetts to join his company.

He had recently leased space with a conference room and five offices. He had a dream of filling it with a growing company.

I said no. Well, he hired me anyhow and I've been working for him ever since. He gave up the office space after that and we realized there was a lot more talent in the world rather than within driving distance of Rockland. We turned the company fully remote.

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What are you working on?

After working from home for seven years, and going through desk after desk and software tool after software tool, I started Buildremote. It's a resource for people who run remote companies.

You can find resources like this one on remote work tools.

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What's your typical work routine?

I wake up at 5 AM. I wouldn't really consider myself an early bird, but my daughters (one toddler, one baby) have backed me into a time-corner. I wake up before them to work for about an hour, then help out with breakfast.

I'll go back to work around 7 AM and work until the girls wake up from their afternoon naps around 3:30. It's a great program, that only work-from-home could allow.

I get all the work time I need, save on time without a commute, and spend quality time with my kids.

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Do you have a dedicated space to work?

My wife and I both work from home, so we have a dedicated home office we share. We have two desks (we each invested in those before we had kids), but only one chair.

We gave away our second office chair when we realized we wouldn't be working at the same time until our kids were much older.

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

These are the ten tools I use every day, specifically because we are a fully remote team. We also use Xero (accounting software), Gmail (email), and other basic tools—I just wouldn't consider those remote-specific.

Check out the Build Remote Remote Tools site for a full list of tools that people in my network use.

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How do you stay on task?

My main tip as a remote employee or manager is to do less interaction than you think necessary.

When people start working from home, the instinct is to be more available and check-in more. It must be something about not being seen physically at your desk that makes people feel like they can't show how much effort they are putting in.

As a result, people will respond on Slack more quickly than when working in person, set up more check-in meetings over Zoom, and respond to emails right away and outside of work hours. This erodes the ability to do real, focused work without interruption.

It's important for managers of remote teams to encourage people to sign off and set limits on meetings.

Encourage people to pick small blocks of time to respond to email and close it otherwise. The more time you have without notifications and digital communication distractions, the more efficient you'll be.

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What do you like about remote work?

I don't like wasting time. That's not to say I'm the most efficient person in the world (not even close), but with little kids and a company to run, I just don't have a ton of extra time.

I love that I don't have to waste time on a commute.

I love that my mental breaks don't have to be at the computer, discreetly going on Facebook like in an office. I can take a real break.

I love that my fridge is close by, rather than a shared office fridge.

It's a healthy lifestyle with work built-in.

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What do you not like about remote work?

It's harder to divide work from home. If, in the middle of a workday, there is something better to do in my life... I can take a break. If I want to work at night, my computer and everything I need to work is just a few steps away.

When I'm not focused on it, the easy access to work can sometimes negatively impact my life, and the easy access to my life negatively impact my work.

I try hard to block off times to start and end work.

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Biography

Henry O'Loughlin

Henry is the director of operations at Nectafy, a fully remote marketing agency, and the founder of Buildremote, a remote consulting company.

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