As Co-Founder & CEO of Pangea.app, a Rhode Island-based startup that connects companies to students for remote freelance projects, Adam Alpert is no stranger to digital work. Even before the pandemic, Adam used Zoom calls to stay connected to people all over the country.
Thanks so much, Adam for talking to us about your remote work experience and sharing your thoughts about how the pandemic has opened up opportunities for working digitally.
After graduating from Brown University in 2017, Adam developed a way to help college students and recent graduates build relationships and gain real-world experience. Pangea.app connects students with companies searching for employees with specific skill sets. Despite remaining in Providence, Adam connected with companies and students nationwide. As a digital company, Pangea.app and Adam have always worked with people beyond their immediate geographic reach. While Adam and his team were familiar with remote working even before the pandemic, the shutdown of the rest of the country meant changes for Pangea as well.
The pandemic was closer than he thought
The realization that life as Adam knew it was changing came in early March, as he and his co-founder sat in a workspace in Miami. Despite the spread of the virus in a few countries and a concentration of cases in the United States, Adam believed things were still in control. The office was empty except for the two of them, which didn’t seem unusual for a Saturday in Miami. However, an email letting them know the office had shut the day before due to a positive coronavirus case made Adam realize the pandemic wasn’t as far away as he thought.
After flying back home and making the decision to quarantine for two weeks, Adam and his co-founder adjusted to an exclusively digital work environment. As college campuses began to close, Pangea.app halted their ambassador program to send students into classrooms. Adam and the Pangea team now had to figure out new ways to advance their goals, which meant staying productive despite the shutdown.
Sometime, change is great for a startup
Adam told us that having a daily team meeting at 9am is an important way to get their days started and make sure the team stays motivated. He also found that the pandemic made some aspects of his work easier. The fact that everyone is now working from home means conversations with clients, investors and advisors can all be virtual. “For me, it’s opened up a lot of productivity. I can talk to so many more people because I just set back to back Zoom meetings.”
He noted that while this productivity is empowering, it’s tiring. Being trapped at home since March means he uses the weekends to recharge. Adam says that’s essential to making his work week manageable. It’s taught him a bit more about the importance of balance. Living at home for the majority of the pandemic meant blocking his schedule for family dinners. “7 o’clock comes around, and it’s time for dinner and spending time with my family.” Adam strives to maintain balance wherever possible. His second tip to others working from home is, “make sure to keep a clean workspace, even if that means just making your bed every day.”
Despite the sudden changes, Adam now views the transition to entirely digital work during the pandemic as liberating, not restraining. He notes, “For me, it’s been pretty empowering embracing the fact that I can work from anywhere.” Travel is difficult at the moment, but that won’t always be the case. The pandemic has changed Adam’s perspective on how he’ll work once he can travel again. “I’ve always been one to explore and go on adventures, so this shift toward remote work will enable that.”
Pangea has benefited from this abrupt switch to all-digital work during the pandemic. The app has grown quickly because of the influx of college students seeking remote work opportunities. “We went from having 1,000 students on the app to about 6,000 almost overnight.” For businesses like Pangea, the digital shift has become a key part of their success. And while Adam misses meeting face-to-face with his co-workers, he appreciates the flexibility and future possibilities that remote work presents. We hope he gets the chance to take his work on the road again soon!