Home > Remote Workers Q&A > Randle Browning

Randle Browning Works Remotely

3
Years Remote
Home
Preferred Workspace
Waco, TX
Home Base

Head of Content,
Skillcrush

Digital Nomad
Digital Nomad Life
100
% Time Travelling
PAST YEAR: 20 Cities 3 Countries
CAREER: 20 Cities 3 Countries
*All figures approximate as of October 2016
Randle Browning
Interview with Remote.co

It was sort of an accident! I had moved to Waco to get married (my husband and I own a restaurant there that we had opened before I moved away to grad school). Long story short, I didn’t really fit into my local economy. I had a graduate degree in English but didn’t want to work as an adjunct teacher or pursue a PhD at the local university; I had worked as a chef but didn’t want to work in a steakhouse (Waco’s a smaller town); and I didn’t want to work in the restaurant with my husband day-to-day. I started learning to code online via Skillcrush, really clicked with Adda, the CEO, and a few months later was hired to kick the blog into shape and take over the newsletter. From there I quickly took on more hours and went full-time building the content marketing team. 🙂

After 2 years of working remotely, I decided to take full advantage of the work flexibility. Now I live on the road full-time in an RV with my husband and dog. We don’t know how long we’ll travel, but at least through the end of 2016.

I love that at Skillcrush I’m in communication with my team pretty much all day. But on weeks when that hasn’t been the case, I’ve quickly started to feel the lack of social interaction. Before you take a remote job, find out how much communication you’ll have with your team (via video, chat, email, etc.) and think about what you want and need. I find that while no one wants to be in video calls all day, if I go too long without seeing a coworker face-to-face I start to get glum…and less productive!

The company has been remote from day 1, and the remote culture is totally built in.

Well, I’m currently sitting in an RV outside New York City, so I’d say the flexibility. 🙂

Networking. Sure, I network online, but it’s so much easier to build relationships in person. I often wish I could connect more with other people like me working in content marketing, at tech companies, or just working in the same digital, creative space.

Not really. My team has a 15-minute daily check in each morning, and we also have scrum meetings (we’re a marketing team running on scrum, an agile methodology) on a recurring 2-week schedule. Outside of that, we are pretty flexible! Although I love getting a day with several hours of no meetings or interruptions, when I can put my head down and work.

I definitely get distracted by shiny things! Most often it is actually a colleague who needs help with something. I set an away message on our chat platform when I need to focus, and it helps to work in a public place or near someone else (even if it’s not someone who works at Skillcrush), because I’d be less likely to fall into an Instagram hole without noticing the minutes ticking by. Another trick is to keep my phone on silent and in my bag or out of sight.

Overworking! I think this is more common with remote work because you don’t notice everyone leaving the office at 5. It’s easy to power through and overwork yourself when you don’t have to physically leave your office. My big secret is that I tend to log off at 5…and then sneak back on around 8 or so to get more work done. I am definitely still working on this, but I’d say that it helps to set reasonable expectations with myself and my team about how much I can REALLY get done in the official workday. A 12-point to-do list is usually a red flag!

I have used WeWork before, as well as lots of private ones. I don’t really have a favorite yet, but I’m interested in Regus and these new Capital One cafes.

  • My Karma Go data device for Wi-Fi
  • My noise-canceling Bose headphones

I have a dedicated home office above our garage. I keep it pretty sparse in terms of furnishings and just stuff, so I can’t get distracted. I have a regular desk (this one is usually set up as a filming set, because I use it to film our curriculum videos), plus a standup desk, a TV that is always off or showing the news on mute, and of course dog beds. ^_^

Google Hangouts, HipChat (similar to Slack), email, and, if we really can’t find each other, cell phone!

Easy! Make your own coffee. ^_^ And remember that for a lot of the bigger expenses like coworking rent, a computer, Wi-Fi, travel, etc., it’s likely your company will chip in.

Skillcrush is an online education platform designed to help students learn tech skills and make a major career change. We create 100% online courses for learning how to code or design websites.

I would do it in a job I really loved in a city I really loved, provided I never have to wear “business casual” again, or count up vacation days.

It makes it hard to choose a higher salary or a more prestigious role if it means losing flexibility.

Creative meetups, working in coffee shops, and sticking to a schedule—yoga every day at the same time, the coffee shop every week at the same times, etc.

Twitter and Instagram. And “old-fashioned” email.

Reach out to people you think are cool and find a way for your company to partner. If that’s not an option, build rapport on social media. A good policy is to think of something you can do for a person, whether it’s as simple as sharing a useful link or as involved as doing some kind of work for them.

I get to travel A LOT, and I get used to seeing my friends and family more often. Also, I’m able to prioritize my health and happiness more—for example, when I’m in Waco, I make time each day for yoga during a long lunch hour and take one afternoon a week to get acupuncture. That wouldn’t be as simple in an office job!

Hugely. It means I get to have a career I’m proud of without uprooting our family. I mean…except when we WANT to be uprooted, like now! But before we left on an RV trip, it meant I could move forward in my career and make good money without moving to a major metropolitan area. We didn’t have to choose between my husband’s career and mine.

Honestly, they’re pretty integrated. Some of my coworkers are good friends!

I tend to make time to talk to them while I’m doing something mundane, like cleaning the camper or heating up dinner. It’s great to catch up while driving too! Also, now that we live on wheels…I get to visit friends and family I normally wouldn’t be able to see for months or years!

Just be open to chatting. It’s easy to shut down since you know you probably won’t see people again, but sometimes you click and you end up choosing to see each other! 

So far, I loved Boston, and I think I’ll love NYC. The best places to work remotely have lots of Wi-Fi, coffee shops, and coworking spaces with meeting rooms. Working from a campsite is pretty nice too, but I can get a little stir crazy after a full day working from a camper.