Pola Henderson
Content and Community Manager
February 10, 2020

Interview with Pola, a Paris-based content writer

A job ad in an online group led Pola to find her ideal career as a content writer—see her remote work & job seeking takeaways.

How did you get started with remote work?

I had done freelance work before as a travel writer, but it wasn’t until I found my current job that I learned the term remote-first.

It’s having the freedom to work from anywhere, as opposed to a company policy that allows for occasional work-from-home days.

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What are you working on?

I’m currently focused on writing about work management and digital transformation, both for our company’s resource site and external publications.

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How do you stay on task?

By limiting distractions. That could be silencing the phone, changing online status to “do not disturb,” or not checking emails right as they come in. If I’m looking at a blank page too long, doing a few stretches can help. Oh, and coffee!

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What do you like about remote work?

When I need silence to focus on a project, especially writing an article that requires research and statistics, I prefer to work alone. Less noise means fewer interruptions.

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What do you not like about remote work?

Sometimes you may feel isolated like it’s only you and the laptop.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. - John Donne, scholar, and poet

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

I use Kantree for work management and my monthly content calendar. Buffer and TweetDeck are time savers when it comes to social media.

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How do you use these tools?

Kantree is the project HQ. I use it as a to-do list to keep track of what needs to be done and as a database of content ideas. I can also communicate with the team or clients directly from the dashboard, which helps to cut down on email clutter.

Buffer is great for analytics and to quickly schedule social media messages for the whole week. As far as TweetDeck, I use hashtag lists to see what’s going on in our industry and to find interesting content.

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Where do you conduct your work?

I have a dedicated workspace in my apartment, plus a few favorite coworking cafes in the neighborhood. As it happens, our office is a few minutes away, so I can walk over there if I want company or have a meeting with the team.

Even though we work remotely, we still like to get together sometimes to discuss business or have a team lunch.

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What about your space helps you to be productive?

It’s a combination of the right lighting, room temperature, and limited distractions— a great setup for writing. But when I’m not working on an article, it can get too quiet, and I need to be around people to feed off the energy around.

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What does your workday routine look like?

I check in with the team in the morning, make coffee, and then get on with my projects!

I make sure to take a real lunch break (luckily, France is good for that) to recharge and avoid the afternoon crash.

I also like to take a walk in the evening, because too much time in front of the computer can take a toll on the body. Not having a commute means I can get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, which makes a big difference in terms of productivity and mood.

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How do you decide priorities?

We operate as a worker co-op, which means many decisions are made together. Sometimes it’s good to have a quick chat with the team to decide what needs to be done first.

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How do you avoid burnout?

I once experienced it, and I’m smarter now.

I knew I had to find work that I would enjoy doing, to stop dreading Monday mornings.

I make sure to sleep well, eat well, get enough exercise —all the things we hear about ad nauseam, but that are crucial to our well-being.

Saturday is my sacred day - no work stuff, not even freelance projects or blogging. And I like to do fun things throughout the week: see a movie, go out to eat, meet up with a friend. Balance is key.

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What is the best advice you have ever received?

“You’ll never regret taking a chance on Paris.”

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How did you land your remote work job?

I found the job ad in an online group, dropped everything to apply, and luckily got a phone call a few days later. I knew the moment I met the team that I had found my home. We are all about collaboration and flexibility. Having come from a corporate world, it was refreshing.

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What advice would you give to a new remote worker?

Figure out a routine that’s good for you and remember that remote work is still work.

In my case, that means dressing comfortably but professionally and having an actual workspace, as opposed to sitting on the couch. Have a solid to-do list and a way to keep track of your projects. And don’t forget to talk to your colleagues, not just about work.

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What advice would you give to a remote jobseeker?

Look into startups; they often have distributed teams.

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Biography

Pola Henderson

Pola Henderson is a communications specialist based in Paris, formerly Chicago. She currently serves as the Content & Community Manager at Digicoop, a remote-first startup in France that develops collaborative online tools for teams, including the work management platform Kantree. Pola is also a freelance writer and public speaker, previously featured on CNN, NPR, TechCrunch and more.

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