Remote Work Interview with Peter Macaldowie

Remote Work Stories
24 December, 2021
Peter Macaldowie

Hi, Can you please introduce yourself?

I'm Peter, a 22 year-old currently based in Edinburgh. I've been out of university for about six months, and worked a couple of remote jobs while I was there to pay the bills - and because it's a very viable approach in my field.

What’s your profession, what do you do?

I work on industrial software for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that serves to coordinate and acquire data from a range of industrial devices. This is done with a wide range of protocols, meaning the data can be organised in lots of ways; we essentially work to simplify that data for people to utilise in industry, so that they can give high-level commands and see a real effect in the systems at play.

What company do you work for? Are you a freelancer or Digital Nomad?

I work for IoTech, a medium-sized company that has offices in both the UK and Taiwan. I'm currently hybrid-working with a couple of days in the office each week, but the company are flexible on days spent working from home - it's part of why the company appealed to me when I applied for the job.

How did you start with a remote work journey?

I took on a remote, part-time job with a Manchester-based company after my first year of university. I did spend a few weeks in Manchester in the office, but this obviously wasn't viable once I returned to university. They very kindly offered to let me keep working on my own terms, and I kept the job for a couple of years while balancing it with studies.

What do you think are the main benefits of working remotely?

More flexibility with your time and workflows is the major one. My attitude has always been that so long as the work is getting done to a professional standard and you're suitably communicative with colleagues and clients, there's not much reason that remote work shouldn't be utilised. I'm certainly happier when I have more control over my day, and feel I should strive to meet expectations if the company has trusted me to work on my own terms.

Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

There is less passive interaction, i.e. 'water-cooler chat', but this is something that can be accounted for by socialising with the new-found time given by remote working in many cases. The only other thing is that there's an argument to be made for is less creative crossover, but I think technology provides lots of opportunities for that if your workforce is collaborative and invested in the work anyway, so long as the company encourages rather than quashes people reaching out to their peers with new ideas.

From what cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? What are your favourite countries or cities to work from?

Only Scotland (Glasgow and Edinburgh), but it afforded me the opportunity to work for that Manchester-based company throughout university, which isn't something that would have been viable otherwise.

From what type of places do you prefer to work? Home, co-working spaces, coffee shops, or others?

Home usually, as I find it helps me to focus. Having home comforts to hand throughout the day is also useful though, and usually helps me to save a fair bit money-wise, since there's no coffee shop visits during the day!

What places would you like to travel to while working remotely?

Anywhere, really - I'd love to live in Italy though, and remote working definitely makes that more possible than it would have been otherwise.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? Share your remote productivity, communication, management, etc. tips based on your experience!

The biggest challenge was probably time management, but I think it was a valuable one to learn in any case. It definitely served me well for the rest of my degree, and beyond! In having to balance and consider how much work I had time for, I was forced to accurately scope my own capabilities to the task. It's of course tempting to overestimate how much time you'll have when it's largely up-to-you (which I did initially), but learning where that boundary lay really forced me to reflect on my own efforts and evaluate them realistically.

What tools do you use to improve productivity and manage work efficiently?

Extensions like Blocksite on Chrome help massively to prevent procrastination through the day. Also Slack and other similar apps, for staying in touch with colleagues in a relatively informal environment - most of our teams are fairly tech-savvy of course, so messenger-style applications are ideal for our purposes and allow for snappy and easy coordination of tasks.

How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?

I don't particularly at the moment since I'm not working freelance, that's largely up to my employers.

What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely?

Try it! You might find that it doesn't fit entirely to your style of working, but chances are that you'll see at least a few benefits which will help you evaluate how you spend your time. Losing the commute was the major one for me, since I felt I had far more time in the day to put my focus towards sonething productive, work-related or not.

Would you like to share any interesting stories while you worked remotely? Please share if you can.

Not really a story, but I would like to reiterate that I held down a couple of those jobs throughout university and both were extremely valuable experiences. I found that I worked harder and more happily with the employer's trust that I could get it done on my own terms location-wise. They helped build my skills significantly and I just couldn't have done them alongside university if it had been in-office work for the whole period. I'd highly recommend giving it a shot if you're in a similar position, or if any of that sounded appealing to you.

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