56 - Brie Reynolds of FlexJobs on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast

BRIE REYNOLDS works with FlexJobs, creators of Remote.co: a resource providing information and best practices on starting, training, and managing remote workers and teams. FlexJobs has about seventy-five employees working from all over the United States. They use Sococo as their virtual office and Yammer as their virtual water cooler.



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Her tips for working remotely:

  • Set up a productive workspace for yourself.
  • If you’re working from home, set boundaries with your family or housemates.
  • Be honest and speak up when you don’t understand something.
  • Proactive communication is key.
  • Hire people with solid writing and communication skills.
  • When your company gets to a certain size, hire an HR manager.
  • Offer your remote employees creative benefits: tech stipends, housecleaning services, food delivery services, gym memberships, etc.
  • Be open to new technologies.

Podcast production by Podcast Monster

Graphic design by Alfred Boland


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Original transcript


Lisette: Great. And we’re live. Welcome everybody to this remote interview. My name is Lisette, and I’m interviewing people and companies doing great things remotely. And I’m super excited today to be speaking with Brie Reynolds from FlexJobs.com. And Brie, I’ve been following you guys on social media for a while now – great Q&As with remote companies, great resources. And we’ll talk a little bit about that. But if anybody has any questions during this interview now or in the future, tweet to #remoteinterview and we’ll get those answered.

So, Brie, let’s get started. So how about a little introduction about yourself? And tell us what your virtual office looks like.

Brie: Sure. Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been binge listening to your podcast, and I love what everybody said so far. So hopefully, I’ll say a couple of things that people will find interesting.

Lisette: I’m sure.

Brie: So my virtual office, yeah, in terms of my personal office, the things that I really love are double monitors. I have my laptop monitor and then another monitor. I also have a standing desk that I made out of a dresser that I love to use. I tend to get pretty tired sitting down all day. I like standing. It kind of freaks things up a bit. But I’m pretty much a homebody. For the most part, I like working from my house. [If I’m ever – 00:01:12] getting a people fix where I really need to interact with other folks, I’ll go to a coffee shop. I try the local library. That’s really nice. But for the most part, I like to work from my office. And with the monitors, I love wireless keyboard and mouse. Those are my friends. My mouse goes everywhere. Coffee shop, I always have the mouse there with me. I cannot do the little pad, the touchpad.

Lisette: I totally understand.

Brie: [Laughs] And so yeah, so that’s it. It’s very basic office. It’s in the guest bedroom of my house, so nothing fancy there. But it’s comfortable. The one thing I did invest in way more than I would normally spend on anything is a really comfortable chair, and it’s pretty too.

Lisette: That matters.

Brie: Yes, I like it. It makes me happy to come to my office every day. And as far as the sort of virtual office at FlexJobs, we are a team of, I think, over 65 people now. And when I started five years ago, I was number nine. So we’ve grown a lot over last five years. We’re all over the U.S. We were international, but one of our international folks actually moved back to the U.S. last year or the year before. So now we’re all in the U.S. in 25 different states. We’ve got a big concentration in Colorado. That’s where our CEO lives. She is Boulder. We have a lot of people in California, a couple of people here in Texas. I’m in Dallas, Texas. And people up in the Northeast, in Connecticut, in New Hampshire, in Georgia, in Florida, in Alabama, in kind of all over the place. Up in the Northwest, we’ve got Oregon and Washington. So we’re kind of all over.

Lisette: That’s quite a big team of people, 65 people. That’s quite a big team. How do you guys communicate with each other and keep up with what’s going on?

Brie: We try a lot of different things out. That’s one of the big sort of keys of our communication, i.e., testing a lot of different equipment and software and options to see what works best for everybody. So we’ve tried quite a few things. And the ones that we’re really stuck with are Sococo. We use that for our virtual office environments so we can kind of see everybody’s little icons and where they are in the office. That’s really nice just to see who’s working at the same time. We have flexible schedules. So we don’t all have to be working at the same time. But it’s nice to see who’s there when you’re there. And if you have a quick question, you can pop into their office. So we really liked that.

We also use Yammer, which is mainly for sort of water-cooler conversations or big announcements of the company, to wish people happy birthday or happy anniversary at the company. It’s sort of that meeting place where everybody can go and kind of learn more about each other. We have groups on Yammer where we do things like a book club and cooking group and pet photo share. We have a lot of pet-friendly people here. So we’re always sharing pictures of our animals. So it’s really kind of the casual chitchat location.

And then just for day-to-day business stuff, we use email a lot, obviously. We use Gmail. So we use Google Chat too for IM. We also IM in Sococo quite a bit. And we use join.me for web conferencing. And in Sococo, we can do videoconferencing, so that’s nice. And then we host webinars. FlexJobs is a job search website, I should say. We focus on flexible employment – things like telecommuting or remote work, freelance, flexible schedules, part-time jobs that are professional level part-time jobs. So for our jobseekers, we use GoToWebinar to host webinars for them. We’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t quite work to figure out what we actually like.

Lisette: And why did you start Remote.co? And maybe describe what Remote.co is, and then describe why you guys started that. It looks like a fabulous resource for remote workers and managers.

Brie: That was our goal, so I’m glad it looks like that. It’s Remote.co and we call it Remoteco. And essentially, as a remote team and talking to a lot of other companies that either are totally remote or partially remote, we learned that there was a lot of demand for resources on how to be a remote company, how to hire remote workers, how to manage them, how to grow with a remote team – sort of the questions that you’re asking: how do you communicate? What questions do you ask in a job interview? All the little stuff that comes up. There’s never really a big resource that covers all of that. So our CEO, Sara – who’s the master of brilliant ideas – came up with that idea for Remote.co, which is basically just a place for remote companies to come together and share ideas, share what works with them. So we have a lot of questions and answers with… I think now we have over 40, maybe almost 50 companies who’ve done our question-answer session. But it is companies like GitHub and [Automattics – 00:06:05]. There are bigger remote company names that you might’ve heard of. But then there are smaller companies like travel agencies and law firms that are also remote, and they answer to a ton of questions. I think it’s about 30 questions about how they function as a remote company. And so other companies who want to do that, it’s a free resource to go in and figure out how do other people do it, how are they successful, and what are some things that you can do to be successful yourself remotely.

Lisette: I don’t know if you have insight into this, but what are people really struggling with in the remote? I mean I know it’s not just one thing, but what are some of the things that you see that people are finding really challenging about this new way of working?

Brie: Yeah, there are certainly some challenges. And the nice thing is that the companies that we talk to are really upfront about what the challenges are, and then kind of how they’ve addressed those. So one of the challenges that we’ve heard of is, of course, with communication. Even with videoconferencing and stuff where you can actually see the other person, body language is still one of those things that aren’t quite replicable in a virtual environment. So we’re not technically making eye contact. I could be looking at your eyes and you’re looking at my eyes, but it’s a little off on the video screen sometimes, so just those little things that you can’t quite replicate. You really have to do different things to get around though. So it could be just the way you hold the meetings, having a lot of emoticon options for people to actually express what emotion there goes with whatever they’re saying. And also having people who are really solid writers in general who are good at communicating in writing is one of the ways to kind of get around that. And also to be open as managers and just team members and to saying, “This is confusing. Can you rephrase it?” or “I don’t quite understand. Can you tell me in a different way what you mean?” So to be totally open and honest when you don’t quite understand what somebody is trying to get across is one of the challenges. It’s always, of course, communication. But as I listed before, [inaudible – 00:08:06] different ways to communicate as a remote company, so that’s not too bad. One of the other things that people mention is that sort of getting to know you on building personal relationships with your co-workers when you work remotely. You can’t take somebody out to coffee really quick or go to the happy hour on Thursday night with all your co-workers. But there are a lot of ways to get around that.

Actually, one thing that we’ve started at FlexJobs is a trivia night. Every couple of weeks on a Friday night after work at about 5:30 my time, everybody gets together with a drink of whatever they’re interested in drinking. And we host virtual trivia. It’s very similar to just going to a bar and hanging out with your friends and doing trivia night. So it’s just a fun way to kind of casually hang out with your co-workers virtually.

Lisette: And you don’t need designated drivers.

Brie: Yes, it’s perfect. [crosstalk – 00:08:58] your home, and you can go sit on your couch afterwards. It’s really easy.

Lisette: [Laughs] I love that virtual trivia, lovely.

Brie: Yeah. One of the things we found with all the companies we’ve interviewed is that they’re really creative in the things that they do to engage their employees or their freelancers – whoever it might be that they’re working with – to keep everybody engaged and learning about each other and having fun at work because that is one of the points, i.e., to not only be productive and efficient and do a lot as a company, but also to have fun with each other.

Lisette: Yeah, I can imagine. You mentioned that communication and relationship building are some of the main challenges. And what about the FlexJobs team itself? What’s something that’s hard for you guys?

Brie: That’s a good question. FlexJobs, in particular, one of the things that actually make us stand out as a remote company is we actually do have an HR director, which for smaller companies is not usually the case. And so one of the challenges was initially sort of that team-building aspect growing as a remote company, bringing new people on. We did a pretty good job of it. We had a lot of luck going initially in hiring the right people at first. But then when you get to a certain level, it actually worked out really well, that somebody that we hired in a writing position had an HR background. And so as we grew, we kept tapping into what would you do in this situation, or what are your ideas for this, and she sort of grew organically into that position. So I think one of the challenges that we potentially would have faced is that growth area where somebody isn’t looking at all of the different aspects of hiring and retention and culture building. Having somebody in a position like that can really help you through with the stumbling blocks of being a real company because everybody is so focused on what they’re doing. But it’s hard for some of the top-level people to also focus completely on culture and hiring the right people and developing your professionals and all of that sort of stuff. So that’s something really handy to have somebody looking at each little piece.

Lisette: Brilliant, indeed. And I can imagine also with hiring processes in different locations. I mean the rules are different in different locations, especially if you’re global. I mean all of a sudden, you’re hiring people in Italy. And then there are different laws and different things to take into account, so I’m assuming that there’s somebody who knows at least where to look [crosstalk – 00:11:24] that information out.

Brie: That’s really finding someone who not only knows all the individual laws but who knows how to research them and where to look and what the resources are for that because that can be daunting for any company, especially for a company that’s very used to hiring locally. They know all the rules. They know all the laws. They know what their state requires or the country. And to then start looking at hiring people to work remotely from another city or another country can be really daunting. So yeah, having somebody who knows where to track that information down is very helpful.

Lisette: Right, yeah, I mean I wouldn’t know the first… I mean I’m sure I could figure it out eventually, me and Google. But it sure would be nice if there’s somebody who… I mean it’s a whole art. HR and all of that is a whole art in itself, so interesting.

Brie: Really interesting to have somebody in that position who’s paying attention to it all. It takes the pressure off of a lot of different people of a company for them to be able to focus on their jobs too, which is really nice.

Lisette: Right, they know that there’s somebody there that nothing is slipping through the cracks as far as somebody sort of catching all the balls in that respect. I give that advice as well as [I say – 00:12:29] higher remote-office manager, somebody who’s just keeping things organized. So it sounds sort of like the same idea.

Brie: Exactly, yeah, somebody who’s paying attention to all those little pieces and who you can say, “Hey, can you handle this?” And you know they’ve got it. And they’re going to give you the right info or keep the right information in the right place for you. And then it’s often your mind. I think that’s one of the big things about working remotely, i.e., all your files are in your brain. Accessing all that information can be a little bit tricky. So they have certain people who are really highly organized and good at that and help a lot.

Lisette: Right, right, we need all types.

Brie: [Laughs].

Lisette: So [they’re not – 00:13:06] the challenges, but what are the things that you’re seeing that remote companies are doing really well or that people are coming [out to]? And then of course what FlexJobs in particular is doing that makes you guys shine?

Brie: Yeah. At Remote.co, some of the companies that we’ve talked to, the culture building is really interesting. So I mentioned that we do trivia hour. But I mean we’ve seen the questions’ answers come back where they have get-togethers with team members who live in a certain area that they’re relatively close together. So if they all live in the Northeast, they might have like a holiday lunch together where at least once a year – or maybe some of the companies have once a month – they’re getting people together in person to just bond as a team. So that’s really interesting to see that.

We also see a lot of trying to replicate those really fun office things like free snacks or devices and stuff like that. So we’ll have [inaudible – 00:14:03] companies that offer stipends for snack delivery. So there are a lot of companies now that do healthy snacks in a box. I can’t remember the name of the one that people have been mentioning, but their remote employees every month will get a nice little snack box delivered to them of healthy stuff that’s tasty, and it’s nice. It’s like the water cooler, but it’s at your house instead.

Lisette: Right, right. Brilliant replication of a nice office [work – 00:14:29], actually. I think it’s really a great idea.

Brie: Yeah. And then also for devices that… I think the bring your own device thing is really popular, BYOD, with most remote companies. But offering a tech stipend where remote employees can go out and sort of have their technology that they’re using for work subsidized. So it’s not all on them to provide all the equipment to make that investment. But there is some support from the company whether they can choose what they’re most comfortable working with. So if you are a PC person versus a Mac person, or if you like a particular headset, it’s really up to you to pick the stuff that you want to work with, the stuff you’re going to be using every day – which just makes for a more comfortable work experience overall. You’re faster on the stuff that you’re comfortable with. So that’s a nice thing we’ve seen a lot of people doing at different remote companies.

Lisette: I love that. And what about [at – 00:15:22] Flex jobs? What do you guys do that’s just great?

Brie: [Laughs] I think everything we do is great. We give the tech stipend. We do snack. It’s actually a choice. So you can either have the nutritious, healthy, delicious snacks delivered to your home office or you get a stipend for your gym membership. So they help pay for that. Or a house cleaning service, which I haven’t [crosstalk – 00:15:48], but just one of those things because when you’re thinking of the distractions of working from home, one of the things that everybody cites is [the forage just – 00:15:58] looks like it needs a quick sleep. Or let me just put those dishes in the dishwasher. And there are lots of those little things that if somebody else is helping you with that once a week or once a month, whatever it is, you can focus more on work, which is great – just takes a little bit of that pressure off. It’s because in an office, you have a cleaning crew coming through every night, for most offices anyway, or at least a few times a week and emptying new trash and tidying everything up and dusting and doing all those little things that in a home office, you’re going to do yourself. But it’s not the most fun part of working from home.

Lisette: Right. It’s always on the list somehow, but it’s never really at the top of the list.

Brie: But when you really need to focus and be productive, all of a sudden, the vacuuming is extremely important. I’m on the writing team. From my perspective, there’s always something distracting me that when I just need to sit down and write, it’s just in the back of my mind there. So having that taken care of is very nice.

Lisette: Indeed, I love these tips. I think that these are some really creative things that people can think about. I mean what a great… The house-cleaning stipend, the gym stipend, I mean the working-from-home perks, I think that’s an area that I haven’t seen many people be very creative in yet. So I’m really looking forward to highlighting this.

And you’re touching on something that I find interesting, which is productivity. And I know that this comes up a lot for remote workers. And oddly enough, it seems… I had actually one woman quote. She said, “I think some people work remotely because they’re actually workaholics.” I see that it’s not… I mean a lot of people always ask… It seems like from the manager’s perspective, trust is a big issue on remote teams, because how do I know people are working? But when I speak with people who are actually working remotely, the trouble seems to be that they’re always on. And they have a hard time turning off. So I always think that dichotomy is really funny. But what are some productivity tips that you have to pass on that you use for yourself?

Brie: Yeah, sure. So actually, that was one of the things. I can’t remember the company that actually said it in their questionnaire. Managers always have that fear of people not being productive when they work from home. They’re just going to slack off and watch TV or whatever it might be. And that fear only exists before people actually start working from home. And then as soon as somebody is working at home, they see like, “Oh, they’re actually productive. They’re getting their work done.” So it’s just sort of a fear of the unknown, I guess. And so one of the things that we found is that people are way more productive when they work from home. At least on our team, we found all of us say that across the board. Compared to when we used to work in an office, when working from home, we just get a lot more done. We took a survey last year of job seekers who were looking for flexible jobs because that’s our audience. People who want more flexibility want to control when, where, how they work. And the number one reason that people say they want to work from home is to get away from office distractions. They want out of the office politics and the quick pop-ins to their cubes. And they want to be able to focus and actually get work done. And there are so many of those distractions every now and then. And it’s not that they want to get away from the people that they work with or the collegiality of an office environment; it’s that they want more length of time to focus on what they’re actually doing and not having somebody just say, “Hey, can I ask you a question for a minute?” that turns into like a 20-minute conversation. And then you can’t remember where you were. So that’s a big deal. So as far as productivity for myself, I like to stick to general, regular hours each day. I have my typical schedule. I think actually I’ve seen it called the split shift now. So I have a two-year-old. And he goes to school, daycare during the day. I work from like 9:00 to 4:00. And then in the evening, I’ll work another hour or two after he goes to bed. And I think that’s really common. Especially with working parents, there’s that evening/afternoon rush of when the kids come home, you’re helping with homework, you’re making dinner, you’re getting everybody bathed and ready to go to sleep. And then it’s quiet and you can focus again. So I like [inaudible – 00:20:00] hours. I like knowing. Having that time logged off in my schedule, that’s always when I’m working. So that works for me. And some people like to have a lot more flexible schedule, and they work really well with a lot of different schedules.

But as far as productivity, I started reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. And I love his to-do list style, having one sort of giant to-do list but then breaking it up by all sorts of things. It’s fairly complicated but not really. So I recently started doing that over the last couple of months, and I found that to be really helpful. It also helps me to see what I’ve done. So when you go to the end of the day and you’re like, “I feel like I didn’t do anything today. I feel like I was just like putting out fires or responding to emails. And what have I actually get done?” You can see all of the things that you actually did cross off your list and then look back at the whole week and see what you’ve done for the whole week. And it just makes you feel like, “Okay, it’s in my brain that I’m not being productive, but in reality I’m getting a lot of stuff done.” So getting things done. I guess that makes sense to think all of that. So that’s been really helpful. That’s a newer thing that I’ve tried. And then I think just working remotely, setting boundaries with their family, letting them know that work time is work time, or your roommates, whoever. If there’s somebody else living in your house, letting them know. And then your workspace too, I really like to have a separate office space where I can close the door if I need to really focus. My husband works from home every now and then, and he doesn’t like to work from home. He actually loves the office environment. He goes stir-crazy when he’s at home. So he’ll be popping in every couple of minutes, “What are you doing? What are you doing?”

Lisette: [Laughs].

Brie: [inaudible – 00:21:44] be like [inaudible] to work. I’m going to shut the door. I’ll see you later. That could be really helpful.

Lisette: Right, right. And you said something earlier about how you really enjoyed working from the home office. And actually, I do too. I have a lovely home office, and I love working here. But I know a lot of people complain. It sounds like your husband would be one of those people. They complain about being lonely, working all by themselves. I mean your husband would be the opposite of that. He wants to be in with people and talking with people in the office. But do you see more? I mean for me to be alone and talking with people online, that is ideal. So I don’t really even crave going out there. But do you see that with a lot of people? I mean do a lot of people complain about loneliness that you’ve come across?

Brie: I see it mainly with people who don’t work from home full-time. So it’s a lot of times that people who work from home during emergency situations. Or if they’re waiting for the plumber, they’re going to take the day to work from home. Or I know in the Northeast when they had all that snow this year, it was just like piles and piles of snow non-stop. A lot of people started working from home because they just couldn’t get to work. The trains were messed up. The buses and driving was like impossible. And so it’s that sort of like emergency working from home where people really feel uncomfortable. They don’t have their office set up. And that’s kind of how I feel when I leave the office and go work from somewhere else, if I’m at like a conference and I’m working in my hotel room off my laptop and I don’t have that second monitor. You’re not quite in your elements. So I think a lot of it would be if they had the right office set up and they really had all the resources they needed to work from home full-time, I think it would probably be a different story for a lot of people. But for folks who are popping back and forth and working from home is sort of that last-ditch call when something else has come up, and they just need to work from home. That’s when people get a little bit stir-crazy. But most of people who enjoy working from home, I think, like you and me, they don’t [mind it at all – 00:23:40]. They don’t really notice. And I [feel like] you’re interacting with people all day long anyway, whether it’s IM or you’re having a quick chat. The nice thing about Sococo is you can pop into somebody’s office, turn on your microphones, and you’re talking. You don’t have to dial a number. You don’t have to enter an access code. It’s just like instant. So that really helps to replicate the office environment, that collegial kind of thing. So I think if you had all those things in place, it wouldn’t be nearly as uncomfortable.

Lisette: Interesting. And that also brings something. I mean I’m a huge fan of Sococo. I think it’s a fabulous tool. Especially, it sounds like the way you guys are using it, it’s really useful. But do you encounter on your team problems with people that have tech illiteracy, people that aren’t just used to all these tools? Because there’s not just one tool that solves it; we’re always using like 10 different tools. Do you come across that?

Brie: We haven’t too much. I think a lot of people who are drawn to working from home full-time have a certain… at least not tech-savviness, necessarily, but they’re not afraid to try new things and learn new things and click buttons and see what works. So I think that’s a big thing for anybody who’s thinking about working from home or working remotely, even just a little bit. It’s to know yourself and whether you have sort of a fear of trying new technology and seeing what works, or whether you’re like, “All right, sure, I’ll try it out. You know, what’s the worse that can happen?” And I think for the most part, remote companies actually talk about how in hiring four remote positions, they look for somebody who’s comfortable [inaudible – 00:25:14]. They want to see what you’ve used in the past. Even if it’s Skype and sort of stuff that’s for personal use, FaceTime. But you’ve actually adopted new technologies as they come out. You’ve tried new things. And you’re used to communicating in that more virtual way. We haven’t seen it too much, but I think working from home… I don’t know if it’s that people kind of self-select in terms of what they’re going to apply for. So maybe people who apply for work-from-home jobs or remote jobs are already predisposed to be interested in technology at least a little bit. [crosstalk – 00:25:50]. He just retired. He’s going to be 65 this year. And he is looking for remote jobs. He loves the idea. He’s not super tech-savvy himself, but he picks up on stuff really easily. He likes to learn new things about it. It’s a good example. It’s really more your personality and how open you are to new ways of working.

Lisette: And I really love that remote working gives whole new classes of people the ability to do work from anywhere. I mean for instance if you’re retired but you still love your craft and you still want to contribute somehow to the community but maybe have some physical reason why you can’t go into something everyday. I think I heard… it was either on the podcast or through one of my interviews. Somebody said that they had, I think, one of those beam robots at a hardware store. And there was somebody who was a carpenter by trade, but he just wasn’t physically able to go there. So he was there at the store via robot giving people carpentry advice because that’s what he did and what he loved. And he could just do that in a spare time. So these are the kinds of things worth a yeah, this is a new world.

Brie: And it just helps people stay active. Both my parents are in retirement now. And that’s the main thing, i.e., they want to stay active. But they don’t want to commute every day, and they don’t want all the office politics stuff. But they want to be applying the knowledge and the skills that they’ve learned across their lifetimes into doing something in retirement. My mom is a retired librarian, and she’s going to be working part-time. But they both are using FlexJobs, which is great, to find part-time project work – whether it’s reviewing books or helping out digital libraries do cataloguing and all sorts of stuff. There are so many options. Or for people who are physically unable to get to an office or have some sort of issue that prevents them from working a traditional 9:00 to 5:00 office job. There are so many people who can be engaged with remote work that wouldn’t necessarily be in the workforce otherwise. Military spouses are a great example. My right-hand woman at FlexJobs, Jessica, is like my go-to person. She’s a military spouse. And not knowing where you’re going to live next year or the year after that, it’s really hard to hold down a job. So having a remote job, she’s worked with us for four years. Her job has gone everywhere that they’ve gone. And the fact that it’s flexible too. I think with remote work comes a little bit of added flexibility in terms of the hours that you work. So when her husband is deployed or otherwise unavailable, she can adjust her hours to be there for her three kids and still have a full-time job and be contributing to the family’s budget and all of that stuff. It’s really nice to see how much easier remote work makes it for groups of people who otherwise have a really difficult time finding jobs that fit their life.

Lisette: Right. I mean yeah, if you’re moving to a whole new country where you don’t know the language, and then you can’t work necessarily. I mean that’s a really difficult transition for somebody, I would think, to make because you’re not out in the world necessarily. You’re not contributing to the family. So yeah, these whole categories of… It’s such a life-saver.

We’re nearing sort of the top of the time, and there are still many questions. But in terms of people looking for flexible work, clearly, FlexJobs is there to help people find flexible work and flexible jobs, which is really cool. And what advice would you give for somebody who’s starting out, that is looking for flexible job? What advice would you give them? Because it’s not as easy as it looks. So we’re not just sitting here in our pajamas, folks [laughs].

Brie: It is, yeah. And I guess that’s the number one [piece – 00:29:28]. It is real work. We get that question a lot. Are these real jobs? Is this really something I’m going to be doing? It’s real work. There are a lot of scams with work-from-home jobs. So a lot of what we do is help people to be able to stop those scams and stay away from them. We pre-screen all the jobs on our site and all the companies before they get posted. So if you’re using FlexJobs, there’s no chance that you’re going to run up against the scams. But wherever you’re searching, if you’re getting those emails in your scam box to be able to work in your pajamas and earn thousands of dollars a week for doing what? They don’t actually say.

Lisette: But if it sounds too good to be true, then it is too good to be true [laughs].

Brie: Yeah, that’s the golden rule. When it sounds too good to be true, it is not true. [Laughs] It’s just not true. So just be aware that those sorts of things do exist and that you should be critical about the jobs that you’re finding. You want to research the company [inaudible – 00:30:24] that are offering these jobs and get a real job description. If somebody is being very vague about the type of work that you’d be doing from home, it’s probably not a legitimate job. Otherwise, they would be telling you what you’re going to be doing because it’s an actual job.

Also, I would say be open to all the different types of possibilities. I think the number one thing that we hear from jobseekers on our site who find jobs is I didn’t know this job existed or I didn’t know you could do this job from home or I never would’ve found this job, all of those things. Just expand your horizons. Do a lot of research. Figure out what’s out there. There are a lot of jobs that exist now and that are remote jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago. And who knows in the next 5 or 10 years what sorts of jobs are going to be out there that are remote. I mean a lot of nursing positions now are telehealth nurse, where you’re at home helping people over the phone with whatever ailments they might have as a nurse. You have to be a licensed, certified nurse. You have to have certain years of experience, but you’re working from home. So there’s a lot of stuff out there.

Lisette: Interesting. And actually, that kind of spurs a different question. And I don’t know if you would know this off the top of your heads. I’m going off on a tangent and I apologize, but what are some of the newer, flexible jobs that are coming up? Like telehealth, of course. I mean that seems like… but I mean remote nursing. So I didn’t think of that. What are some of the other things you guys see coming through? I mean I’m sure there’s got to be writing and programming and things like that.

Brie: That would be the obvious ones. So there are all sorts of things. Medical and health is actually the largest flexible job fields that we see. [crosstalk – 00:32:01] physician positions. We saw a neurosurgeon who is a remote physician. And essentially, the main thing to know with that is that not all telecommute positions are 100 percent remote. So in those cases, the physician or the neurosurgeon might see people in person on certain days. They might have visitor or patient hours, or they have surgery scheduled, obviously. But then the rest of the time, instead of working from the office doing all their paperwork and patient follow-ups, they’re working from home. So a lot of work-from-home positions require a little bit of time in the office or a little bit of time meeting with clients that are otherwise work-from-home positions. So that’s something important to note. As far as some of the interesting jobs we’ve seen, a lot of virtual instruction jobs – it could be college faculty, as high-level as that, where you need a Masters or a Ph.D. in a certain field. But it’s also a lot of tutoring jobs, K through 12 education jobs. There are a lot of virtual teaching positions, classroom assistant positions. There are specialized positions that are all virtual because there are a lot more virtual classroom environments nowadays, so that’s a big one. Virtual education is really growing. And one of the interesting jobs that I always think of is Internet Assessor. And it’s actually to help companies. It’s a part-time freelance remote job. And it’s to help companies assess the usefulness of the ads that they’re putting out there on the Internet. So your job is basically to search the Internet and see which ads come up, what catches your eye. And there are certain parameters, of course, things that you need to be looking for. But I mean it’s a job that 10 years ago was not a thing. And now it’s one of the common sort of part-time telecommuting jobs that we see, and it’s great. In telecommuting jobs, there are a lot of full-time options, but there are also a lot of good options for side-gigs. So if you have a regular job but you want to be supplementing your income or trying something new on the side, there are a lot of those part-time positions.

Lisette: Right, because you might want to just try something new without diving headfirst into it. You want to just kind of dip your toe in.

Brie: Yeah. So if you like it, if you really want to pursue that before you quit your steadfast 9:00 to 5:00 office job, you might want to see if what you’re thinking of actually works. So there’s a lot of opportunity for that.

Lisette: Wow, that’s super exciting to see. I love that the education field is going that way. I mean I’ve seen. I’ve taken tours in Second Life where people are taking classes and getting Ph.D. online and with avatars. And you just think, “Wow, this is mind-blowing, actually. I could be taking a class in Lebanon or something.” And with people from all over the world, super exciting, I think, that whole field.

Are there personality traits? I think we talked about this a little bit. But I want to just highlight really quickly before we go. And then I’ll ask the last question. But personality traits, maybe things that’ll work and don’t work. So you’ve already touched on a few, which, of course, is like having good communication skills, maybe having discipline for working at home. But are there things that maybe wouldn’t be so suitable for remote working?

Brie: Oh, the flip side. Yeah, you mentioned communication skills, things like that. Things that wouldn’t work… I think there’s a lot of question as to whether being an extrovert versus an introvert is better for working at home. And I think actually extroversion can help a lot. A lot of people think extroverts like to be around people. Maybe they wouldn’t be quite as suited. But the proactive communication thing is really key. So not just waiting for somebody to ask you questions or ask you what you’re working on but to actually be putting it out there that these are the X things that I did today. I have five questions about this. Being really comfortable communicating outwardly without being asked. I’m an introvert, so I too think introverts can work from home really well. But I also have to push myself to be an active participant with all of my co-workers and not just kind of sit back and wait for people to come to me to communicate, which is not my nature. I’m used to just being the quiet one in the corner in the classroom. I’m not usually raising my hand or asking questions. But in a virtual world, you have to be able to do that sort of stuff. So that’s a big piece of it.

As far as other things that wouldn’t work well, I think if you have a lot going on at home, if you think that you’ll work from home to supplement your daycare so that your kids will be at the home at the same time that you’re working from home. There might be at home, but you have a nanny or a babysitter or something like that. I think a lot of people think, “Oh, if I work from home, I don’t need daycare.” And this is different, I should say, for older kids. If they get older and more responsible, they’re able to kind of manage themselves a little bit better. But as the mom of a two-year-old, there is absolutely no way I can work from home and have him here with just me and him at the same time. It’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to me. It’s not fair to my company. I had a friend who actually said, “Oh, you’re working from home, so Jack will be at home during the day too.” And she’s like, “That’s great. You’ll get to spend all sort of time with him.” That’s not at all how it works. This is a real job. You wouldn’t bring your two-year-old to hang out with you every day in a traditional office environment. Certainly, can’t have him at home either. So I think that disconnect people really need to get around and find what childcare is going to work for them because you really do need it.

Lisette: Right. I can imagine because the distractions are not predictable, I would think, for everybody.

Brie: [crosstalk – 00:37:34] I’ll be able to work during that time because he always naps from X to Y and we’ll know, but it’s not the case. It’s nice because it lets you focus. You know that your child is well taken care of. He’s having fun. And you can focus on your work too. That’s the big thing.

Lisette: Right, give the full attention to whatever needs to be done and the meetings that need to happen. There’s no noise cancelling headset that I know of that is going to cancel out the noise of a two-year-old [laughs].

Brie: Exactly, there definitely is not.

Lisette: If anybody knows of one…

Brie: Yeah, that’ll be a great invention if somebody could cancel out that particular noise. That’ll be very good.

Lisette: [Laughs] [inaudible – 00:38:17] just for the airport or something, I think.

Brie: [crosstalk].

Lisette: So then last question, which would be if people want to get in touch with you and learn more about you, what is the best way to contact you?

Brie: Sure, yeah. So there are a couple of different ways. I’m on Twitter. So that’s always helpful. You can do Twitter. It’s @briewreynolds. And then you can also email me. That’s great. brie@flexjobs.com. I recommend checking out, obviously, FlexJobs.com and Remote.co too. Those are two big ones. We also have a sister initiative for anybody who’s interested in work flexibility. It’s 1 Million for Work Flexibility and it sort of spans the whole scope of flexible work – so flexible scheduling, the legislation that goes on for paternity leave and maternity leave, and just the whole wide range of flexible work options. That’s workflexibility.org.

Lisette: Wow, that’s a lot of resources under one umbrella. I love it. I love it. Yeah, it definitely looks like it’s a great website. It looks like some great things, great resources, so I highly recommend people going there. I’m looking at Remote.co right now on my screen.

Brie: [crosstalk – 00:39:43] relatively new. I think we launched it about a month ago. So we’re adding new resources every day, new articles, new interviews. So it’s a good thing to keep going back and checking out if you’re at all interested in remote work from the company perspective or from an individual perspective.

Lisette: Right, great. Well, thanks so much for the conversation today. And I hope that people contact you and contact your site. Please let me know if they do.

Brie: Yes, yes, please do, everybody. I like to hear from people.

Lisette: Tell them Lisette sent you so that I will know that they came through listening to this interview. That would be fun to see who shows up.

Brie: Thank you so much.

Lisette: All right, everybody. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, be powerful.


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