Jim Almo’s career trajectory sprung remote working on him. What started as working one-on-one with customers transitioned to in-person team work, and finally, a full-time remote position. And he’s worked from a bunch of interesting places, too (but we’ll let him tell you about that). Jim’s a great example to be open to the possibilities around you, and you may be pleasantly surprised with what life offers.
Some people set out to work remotely. Others simply fall into it. Tell me about your career trajectory. How did you fall into your current role?
How long do you have? I’ve had a number of “careers” over the years, mostly in the service industry, but I’ve almost always been a writer, whether professionally or not. Some of my first “published” work was band and album reviews for ‘zines. I’ve written copy for ads in places I’ve worked, training manuals, web copy for friends, academic journals, and now, through no fault of my own, I’m writing and editing copy for some nationally and internationally distributed publications.
Honestly, I never really thought about working remotely; it just evolved naturally. I went from working in a variety of service sector jobs to mixing that with writing and social media work, which was partially remote, to working for Lantern. We did have a traditional office, but after some especially snowy winters, we remote part time. Then the owners of the company moved and we became fully remote.
While you may be a managing editor for your full-time remote job, you’re also a musician. Tell me about your musical goals. How does being a remote worker affect your musical lifestyle?
Working remotely makes it possible to tour without taking vacation time or getting behind on my work. It’s definitely led to working in some interesting spots. I’ve worked from the back of a van traveling through Ohio, beside a lake in Michigan, in a restaurant in Toronto, in a bar in North Carolina, coffee shops, and plenty of DIY warehouse spaces.
I think at this point my musical goal is pretty simple, though: a weekly happy-hour gig playing traditional jazz or classic country. Something laid back, but still danceable.
There are so many benefits to working remotely. What’s your favorite?
Because I don’t have to talk to anyone.
Seriously, though, it’s really conducive to working at your own pace. I can be really focused for hours without getting distracted, or if I need a break, I can do something constructive like take the dog for a walk.
It sounds like you’ve adjusted well to remote work. Are there any challenges?
I think for me the biggest challenge is because I don’t work in an office, it’s harder to maintain a “normal” workday.
That’s a common complaint. Since you know it’s an issue for you, how do you structure the day to make it work?
I try my best to stick to a 9-to-5 type schedule, but that doesn’t always work. After taking the dog out for a walk and helping everyone get out to school or work, I can usually get started on my work around 8:30 or 9. I find myself working through lunch a lot because I like to go out for an afternoon run, so that’s my “lunch break.” Then, the stretch from 2:30 on just depends on what’s happening with the kids. If I have a lot of running around to do, I may end up calling it a day and picking things back up later at night after everyone goes to bed.
Part of that is because my work is project and deadline based, rather than hours-based. I’m fortunate that my boss cares more about getting quality work done on time rather than the time of day I’m working.
Sounds like a great employer! How does communicating with your team work in your situation?
Alright. Let’s switch gears for a moment. Tell me, what does your workspace look like?
That depends on whether or not I get to my favorite chair before the cats do. I like to sit on the porch with my dog when it’s nice out, but I live in a city, so sometimes it gets too noisy. As long as I have access to coffee and WiFi, I’ll work pretty much anywhere.
One more thing. Do you have any advice for current remote workers?
Don’t fall into working all the time. Set boundaries for yourself about when you are and are not working. Make yourself take weekends off, leave your home/office at least once every day, and don’t be averse to closing the computer and going for a walk. It’s easy to burn out when the work is always there.