RED is made up of a diverse group of people pursuing the same goal: helping you help the world. Where do we come from, and what brought us here? Here is your chance to see inside a remote team – what makes us tick?
“I want to work with people who think singing in an interview is a good idea. And you all want to work with someone who sings in an interview.”
Ryan joined the team in early 2017. He brings a lot of skill to RED’s team, and he even sings to us!
RED: How did you end up at RED? What attracted you to RED?
While living in Thailand during a break from my career as a software engineer I came to the realization that if I could work from anywhere I would be able to spend more time with family and friends while also enjoying the freedom to travel and live wherever I wanted. Location independence became a goal for me, so I began working as a freelance web developer. One fortunate day I saw a job ad for an opening at RED. In my first phone conversation with Emma I immediately knew RED was a special company with a compassionate leader. RED made me feel right at home. I even sang to the team during my final interview! It was a perfect fit.
One of the first things I loved about RED was that we build quality websites for non profit organizations that are providing services and resources for good causes. I prefer to focus my efforts on projects that can help make the world a better place to live. RED makes a positive and meaningful difference everyday for our clients by helping them to help others.
RED: What are some of your interests outside of work?
Music has always been an important part of my life. Once upon a time I was an opera singer. I studied opera performance and musical theatre while earning my BS in Computer Science at Northwestern University. These days I enjoy learning new songs at my favorite karaoke spots. I’ve been known to get on stage to sing with live bands as well from time to time. I also enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures. I hope to be doing a lot more of that in the coming years.
RED: Why is remote work important to you?
Remote work gives me the freedom to live the life I want to live. After years of missed opportunities to spend time with family and friends the idea of trading life experiences, precious moments, and memories for money just didn’t seem like a good deal to me anymore. Remote work is the perfect way to be where you want to be while still having a meaningful career. Another important benefit to working remotely is that I can live a healthier lifestyle. By working from home I’m able to eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. I’m also able to go for a walk or swim and work a schedule that is optimal for mental clarity and overall well being. Since I joined RED I have experienced a high level of happiness and contentment and a significant reduction in stress. Everyone at RED is kind, thoughtful, and supportive of each other. We aren’t just a remotely distributed team that does great work. We’re family.
RED: Where do you normally work? Are there other places you like to work?
I work wherever I have a strong wifi connection, and I don’t stay in one place for too long. I currently perform most of my work from my home office. My gear currently consists of a late 2013 MacBook Pro. It’s perfect for any work related tasks and is very convenient, especially when I’m traveling.
RED: Do you work with music, TV, complete silence, other white noise?
I like to listen to music while I work. I’ll usually pick a few songs and play them on repeat. It helps me to focus especially when I’m working on bigger projects that require long stretches of programming. One of my go to bands to get me in the zone is Coldplay. Sometimes I’ll even start singing along while I code. This is another reason why remote work rocks! Try singing “Yellow” from your cubicle in an open corporate office and see what happens. Once you go remote you’ll never want to go back.
RED: How do you structure your day? What is your most productive time of day?
I’m a night owl, but if I load up on caffeine I can rock any time day or night. I mostly keep a loose schedule working in two to three hour blocks with breaks in between. I find that stepping away from the computer once in a while to get some fresh air and to get my blood pumping helps to clear the mental cobwebs and increases my overall productivity.
RED: It’s not easy to work remotely. Many find it challenging to stay motivated and miss the communication with coworkers. How do you handle these challenges?
Remote work is indeed challenging, but the RED team communicates so effortlessly online using tools such as Slack and Zoom that I feel like we are a closer and more functional team than most. The culture at RED makes a world of difference. One really cool thing we do at RED that helps keep our team close over the distance is sharing pictures and random updates about our lives every Friday. We also have weekly team meetings where we can all see and talk to each other face to face to go over our highlights and lowlights of the week and to discuss new projects and developments at RED. We also allow everyone to step away on weekends with a no emails on weekends policy. Because of our communication online I feel like I already know my teammates at RED better than many coworkers I’ve shared a physical office with for years.
Staying motivated can be challenging at times, but we each are given a variety of tasks so that we can shift our focus from one task to another as needed to help with mental blocks and to keep things interesting. We also have a Slack channel for swapping tasks with each other. We each have a our own unique set of skills, so being able to swap tasks helps us work more efficiently as a team while also preventing each of us from getting burned out. Emma takes the time to meet with each of us one on one by phone to discuss our work on a regular basis and to talk about the challenges we face. I always look forward to our conversations, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this amazing team.